8 comments on “The Black Widow of Black Rock – Southern Pacific in “Bad Day at Black Rock”

  1. Thought I might offer an update, based on some frame-by-frame study on a nice DVD copy of the film:

    The ‘B’ Train (Title Sequence):

    Black Widow F3A SP 6151
    Unidentified F3B
    Two articulated class 66-ACM/ACW Chair Cars
    One unidentified “Daylight” articulated Chair Car
    Parlor-Observation SP 2951.

    The engine has ‘X6151’ in the numberboards, which is how it would have properly operated on the Jawbone while filming.

    The ‘A’ Train (Picture Train for Principal Actor Photography):

    SP 6384 F7A
    SP 8127 F7B
    “Daylight” Coffee Shop
    A 1937 “Daylight” non-baggage-elevator articulated Chair
    1937 “Daylight” Tavern Car, SP 10311

    The Tavern car had its “Daylight” logo painted out in Socony Red.
    Parlor-Observation SP 2951, also had its logo painted out, and the original neon tail sign blanked.

    SP 2951 was likely the same car used in both the ‘A’ and ‘B’ picture trains. But the rest of the train’s consist changed.

    ~ Bob Zenk

    • As much as Golden Gate Railroad Museum would like the SP 6378 to be the lead unit in the movie, it was not. It is still alive and well and under restoration http://www.ggrm.org.

      This was related to me by retired SP Conductor Bo Golson

      Two sets of trains were used to film “Bad Day at Black Rock”,
      The West Train had 6151-8149
      The East train was the 6386- 8127
      Both trains Deadheaded with Made-Up Passenger Train and Engine Crews from Los Angeles. Total of 243.5 Miles from Los Angeles to Owenyo for this movie, and tied-Up at Owenyo.
      The “East Train” did all the filming between “Lone Pine” and “Owenyo” and as stated you can see the train crossing the Owens River bridge at MP 519.4 and would have been a Work Extra between “Lone Pine and Owenyo” for the filming moves.
      At the time Owenyo was the Train Order Office, Register Station and Tie-Up point for trains on the “Owenyo Branch”as Lone Pine had only the Agent there. The famous “Owenyo Hotel” would have been used for the Train and Engine Crews.
      The West Train would have had the Observation against the power on the way to Owenyo and the power turned on the wye at Owenyo to run West for the filming between “Little Lake” MP 468.3 and “Inyokern” MP447.2,
      Two Conductors were used on the West Trains “Harry Harvey and Robert Griffin, the Porter was Bobby Johnson. You can see in the movie that extras were used in the Passenger Cars for filming! Owenyo was 143.5 lonely miles from Mojave to Lone Pine.

      Dave Roth
      http://www.ggrm.org

    • Iˇve seen this movie yesterday. Also think lead engine in opening scene is #6151. Built in June 1949 with serial #6965, order #E1310-A. Later was probably renumbered to SP #6202.

      In final scene is SP #6386. EMD F7A, bulit in July 1952 with serial #16567 and order #3107-A.

      Both scenes used B-unit SP 8127. EMD F7B bulit as SP 6163C with serial #8214 and order #E1310-B.

  2. Bad Day at Black Rock
    Start of movie…. SP 6151/8127 headend. End: 6386/8127. I too preferred the Black Widow scheme. I have an engineer friend who started his career running a MP1500 Black Widow (now living as a CalTrain 150 in San Jose) out of the Brisbane yard. We spent many a wee early mornings talking ‘ol days as I fueled the CalTrain power at the corner of 7th & Townsend in SF between 2005 – 2010.

    • Sometimes you have to hate using a smartphone to send detailed mail… the spell check gets in the way.

      Bad Day at Black Rock
      Start of movie…. SP X6151/8127 headend. End: 6386/8127. I too preferred the Black Widow scheme. I have an engineer friend who started his career running a MP1500 Black Widow (now living as a CalTrain 1503 in San Jose) out of the Brisbane yard. We spent many a wee early mornings talking ‘ol days as I fueled the CalTrain power at the corner of 7th & Townsend in SF between 2005 – 2010.

  3. Thanks for the great info. I just watched the movie and had to know what engine that was. I guessed they were both F-7’s but I guess the first was an F-3. I hope they keep the existing example. Thanks!

  4. I think the horn is an m5,which is as was usual to be out of tune. Thats why they quit using them.
    I cant believe i a, the only one whomecen thought of whatbhorn it had.
    It seems that guys interested in trains should ask about the horn?

    • Yeah, the horn that’s heard in the opening credits and arrival scene is a Nathan M5, absolutely. The crisp notes and round, mellow tones with a pleasing musical chord are characteristic of that horn, which was more or less the standard for Southern Pacific passenger locomotives through the 1950s and on into the 1960s. The locomotive that probably served as the source of “wild” audio would have been the unit that’s seen pulling into “Black Rock” at the opening of Act One. The locomotive in the opening credits is a different unit, and is very visibly equipped with dual single-note Westinghouse horns; one-note honkers or “blat horns,” as some railfans of the period called them. The sound of the multi-chime M5 would have been stripped into that whole sequence during audio sweetening for continuity.

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