I don’t think I have ever had so many requests for one movie! A Movie that only has an appearance of a train at the start and end of the Movie. In 1955, Ernest Bornine and Lee Marvin worked for the first time in this production, and they would not work together again until 1973′s “Emperor of the North,” a movie that we discussed in a another post of The CineTrains Project.” The train that was seen in the movie is powered by a Southern Pacific F7A and F7B, and was filmed on SP’s Jawbone Branch in California’s Mojave Desert. The town that the movie was filmed in, was not real, and any trace of its existence is gone. What is interesting about the JawBone Branch is that the northern end of the line was Narrow Gauge. This part of the line was better known as the “Lone Pine Branch,” and was also used by movie producers for train scenes in movies. This part of the line was abandoned by the Southern Pacific in 1961. The JawBone Branch, however, is today in operation by the Union Pacific Railroad, who merged SP into its system in September 11th, 1996, in order to provide an interchange with the shortline Trona Railway.
There were two locomotive sin the film, and I could only dig up information on the lead locomotive, Southern Pacific F7A #6378. The trailing locomotive is a cabless F7B, and without a number, I am unable to dig up any information. Southern Pacific F7A #6378 was built by the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors in July 1952. She carries serial #16559 and Frame #3107-A1. In the film, she is wearing SP’s shot lived, but very classy, and in my opinion favorite, “Black Widow” paint scheme. This scheme last on the SP for about 10 years before being replaced with a Grey and Scarlet red scheme that was used until Merger with Union Pacific. 6378 served the Southern Pacific until retired in 1972 and was sent to General Electric as a Trade In on new locomotives. Unlike most trade ins, that were cut up for scrap, GE sold 6378 and 2 other former SP F7A’s to the Salzburg family, who owned a group of shortlines. #6378 and 6380 ended up on the Wellsville, Addison and Galeton Railroad in New York. They arrived on the WA&G in 1975, and the unit became WA&G 2100. In August 1979, the WA&G shut down all operations and the units were transferred to the Louisiana and Northwestern, and became L&NW 46. She was in service on the LNW until her retirement from the railroad in the early 1990′s. The two units however did not immediately leave the property, and languished around for quite a long time. However, the LNW 46, as she was at the time of retirement, was finally sold to the Niles Canyon Railroad Museum in Sunol, CA. She is in pretty rough shape, but at least the locomotive is preserved for generations to enjoy.
Here’s a photo of the SP 6378 as she looks today in L&NW colors: http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=2562417
As always, I hope you have enjoyed this blog diving into more history of railroad equipment in TV’s and Movie. If you have any requests that you would like me to do, please see the Submitting Ideas section of The CineTrains Project
Special thanks to Gene Lewis, who found the opening of the movie, so I could finally get a decent screenshot!