From director Robert Aldrich, comes one of the best known period films. Set in the Pacific Northwest during the great depression, the movie tells the story of hobo’s fight against a very cruel conductor. Shack, played by Ernest Borngnine (Convoy, Bad Day and Black Rock) is in my opinion, the 2nd best role that Borgnine has played, following very closely by his number 1 role, Sheriff Lyle Wallace in Sam Peckinpah’s 1978 classic “CONVOY”
The film does a great job at showing how tough life was for the homeless and the jobless during the great depression, and showing the hard life that faced the hobo’s during the period. It clearly depicts how they were set aside from normal society as they wondered around the country, hoping freight trains, looking for work.
The film was shot on the Oregon, Pacific and Eastern railway and Burlington Northern’s mainline between Banks and Vernonia, Oregon. The producers used 2 steam locomotives, and dressed one of them up to replicate different locomotives. The star of the movie, and Shacks train, is powered by Oregon, Pacific and Eastern 2-8-2- “Mikado” type locomotive #19, and OP&E 2-8-0 #5. Lets take a look at those two locomotives….
OP&E #19 was built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in April of 1915. She carries Serial #42000, and was delivered to the Caddo River Lumber Company in Rosboro, Arkansas. She was assigned the #4 and was also given a name, “R. L. Rowan.” Originally built as coal burner, the locomotive was converted to an Oil Burner sometime in 1920. In 1921, the locomotive was sold, without being retired to the Cia De Real Del Monty y Pachuca Railroad, and became CRMP #105. She was used at a smelter, owned by the railroads owner, in Mexico until she was replaced by a larger 2-8-2 Mikado bought new. In 1922, she was again sold to the McCloud River Railroad in northern California, and was given her current number, #19. She arrived on property in January of 1923. She was almost identical to the other Mikado type locomotive on property, McCloud #18, so therefore, it was decided on by the master mechanic to give her the number one above 18, as they were sister engines. She stayed on the McCloud river until June of 1953, spending 29 years on the McCloud, when she was retired, along with the 18, with the arrival of brand new Baldwin Diesel Locomotives. Surplus for the first time since her arrival, she was later sold to another California Shortline, Yreka Western. She stayed on the Yreka Western until 1971, when she was leased to sister railroad, Oregon Pacific and Eastern. She served on the OP&E as an excursion engine, hauling tourists on a daily basis until 1981, when the OP&E shut down operations, and the line was abandoned. After the Abandonment of the OP&E, she was sent back down to the owner, Yreka Western, where she currently resides.
Here’s a photo of how the OP&E 19 looks today, still in operating condition, pulling excursions. http://www.snowcrest.net/photobob/cyws15.html
The 2nd locomotive in the filme is Oregon, Pacific and Eastern 2-8-0 Consolidation type #5. In the filme, she played Engines #4, 5, and 27, to make it look like there was more than 2 locomotives used in the filming. She was built in October 1922 by the American Locomotive Company as Magma Arizona Railroad #5. She was the only standard guaged steam locomotive bought new by the Magma Arizona. She was used by the MA to haul trains of copper concentrate from the interchange with the Southern Pacific railroad to a copper smelting plant in Superior, Arizona. She lasted until the end of steam operations in the early 1960’s, when she was replaced by a Baldwin Diesel. After retirement, she was sold the Oregon, Pacific and Eastern, and was used as a back up tourist engine when the 19 was down for service. She stayed on the OP&E until the railroad shut down in 1981. After abandonment, she was on display at the old OP&E depot until 1995, when the locomotive was purchased by the Galveston Chapter of the NRHS. She is currently on display at the Galveston Railroad Musuem in Galveston, Texas, with the number 555 on her tender.
Here’s a photo of how the engine looks today: http://www.steamlocomotive.info/vlocomotive.cfm?Display=1175
I hope you enjoyed this blog about the Steam Locomotives of “Emperor of the North!” I hope to see you again, and if you have any leads you would like me to dig up, let me know, and I will start the research! HAPPY RAILFANNING!