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!
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
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.
Was Charlie Steffes the engineer?
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.
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.
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!
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.
Great information! My only correction would be to point out that Marvin and Borgnine (and Ryan) starred together again in 1967’s, Dirty Dozen.
I enjoy this movie. It was the last movie that I sa with my father before he died.
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