Tag Archives: V&T #11 “Reno”

The Tall Target 1951

Metro Goldwyn Mayer

It’s February 22, 1861. The American Civil War is about 7 weeks from exploding on the scene, and the 16th President of the United States has yet to be inaugurated. Gosh. I wonder who the tall target is?

Filmed mostly on MGM’s Lot #2 and at RKO’s Encino Ranch (on just 1,800 feet of railroad track), today’s movie features a wonderful 4-car passenger train pulled by the venerable Virginia & Truckee 4-4-0, #11 the “Reno”.

Many thanks to Bruce Bruemmer for recommending this flick and a hat tip to Larry Jensen’s “Hollywood’s Railroads, Volume One”, for the skinny on equipment used. It’s 78 minutes of film noir murder, suspense and intrigue, onboard a speeding express bound for our Nation’s Capitol!

It was a dark and stormy night. Wreathed in steam is the wood-burning, 1872 product of the Baldwin Locomotive Works; Coming down the aisle is our hero, Sergeant John Kennedy (played by Dick Powell). Hey, that gal with the knitting on the left…that’s none other than June Cleaver (played by Barbara Billingsley)! I wonder if she spoke jive back then…

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Once Upon A Texas Train 1988

Columbia Broadcasting System

Let’s take a ride on the Nevada Northern Railway! The star of today’s movie is NN #40, a 4-6-0, July 1910 product of Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia. Bringing up the markers, is wooden coach-combination car #06, acquired by NN second hand in 1909.

In this made-for-TV movie, #40 and combine garner about 4 1/2 minutes of screen time during the opening credits & de rigueur train robbery and shoot out. We once more see the little train as the picture wraps up…heading away from the camera this time.

Filming also features a brief cameo by Virginia & Truckee #11, “The Reno” during its residence at Old Tucson Studios. Thus, I’ll be skipping over the bulk of this 93 minute movie for some tasty steam locomotive goodness. All Aboard!

Here comes the Queen of the Rails towing her little combine with a good head of steam. As the coal-burning 4-6-0 passes, we get a view of NN combine #06.

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Union Pacific 1939

Paramount Pictures

Cecil B. DeMille’s “epic” (translation: well over two hours long) film about the building of the first transcontinental railroad did everything in a big way. Big stars, train wrecks, Indian attacks and a messy love triangle for starters. Union Pacific utilized FIVE different steam locomotives — so many trains, in fact, Paramount had to obtain a railroad operating license from the Interstate Commerce Commission.

Doesn’t sound very obscure, does it? But…1939 was a long time ago and black and white turns many people off, so let’s just imagine obscurity and review it anyway. It really was a fascinating railroad movie to study.

Many many thanks to Larry Jensen and his book, “Hollywood’s Railroads, Volume One” for helping me identify the locomotives and passenger/freight cars used — most of which originally came from the Virginia & Truckee Railroad in Nevada.

As is my wont, I will concentrate on scenes where trains are involved. Camera…ACTION!

The movie premiered in Omaha, Nebraska over several days in April 1939. The recreation of the May 10, 1869 golden spike ceremony at Promontory, Utah was actually filmed near Canoga Park, California partially as a media event to promote the film.

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Support Your Local Gunfighter 1971



United Artists

James Garner is riding the narrow gauge rails of the Denver & Rio Grande Western (D&RGW) Railroad in this Western spoof follow-up to 1969’s Support Your Local Sheriff!

Train scenes in this film were brief, but feature 4 different steam locomotives, one of which I’ve not been able to positively identify. A big shout out to Larry Jensen whose “Hollywood’s Railroads, Volume 3” book helped me identify one engine used on the CBS Studio City (CA) lot.

As usual, I’ll concentrate on the railroad scenes in my review, even though the movie itself is great fun to watch — back when Tinseltown knew how to make an enjoyable, entertaining picture.

Let’s take a trip on the 3-feet-between-the-rails Rio Grande railroad. Highball!!

 

D&RGW #478, a narrow gauge K-28 class 2-8-2 Alco class of 1924, leads a short train of “Grande Gold” and silver coaches along the Animas River on the Silverton Line.

Helicopter shots of this train were used at the beginning and ending of today’s reviewed movie.
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