When an engine becomes an actor, it tends to star in more than just one, especially if that locomotive is a Steam locomotive. In this post of The Cine Trains Project, we are not going to look at a particular movie, but a particular locomotive. That locomotive is Great Western Railway 2-8-0 “Consolidation Type” #75. Great Western #75 was built by the Baldwin Locomotive works in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the Builders Number is currently unknown, as I am unable to find any that number at this time. If some one can provide it to me, that would be great! Some of the films that #75 has appeared in that we will be discussing are the following:
- The Professionals (as Nacionales De Mexico [NdeM] #903)
- A River Runs Through it
- Breakheart Pass
Tha’ts just a small sampling of the movies this locomotive has starred in.
#75 was built in 1909 for the Great Western Railway in Colorado. Built by the Baldwin Locomotive works, she was immediately put to work hauling sugar cane and molasses for the railroads owner, the Great Western Sugar Company. The locomotive never had any major wrecks, and put in over 2 million miles of service on the 42 mile railroad upon her retirement from service in 1965. She put in nearly 60 years of regular, reliable service. When retired, the locomotive was sold to the Intermountain Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, who then turned around and sold the locomotive to the late Everett Rohrer , who formed the GW 75 Corporation, and also purchased 10 pieces of passenger and freight rolling stock, for the sole purpose of being used in movie making. When Mr. Rohrer passed away in 1995, the corporation, who was taken over by his son, sold the locomotive and all rolling stock to the Heber Valley Railway in Heber City, Utah. The locomotive is currently in operation on the Heber Creeper excursion train that rolls through Provo Canyon to Vivian, Utah.
One of the more interesting films that #75 starred in was the Burt Lancaster and Lee Marvin film “The Professionals” and in the film, the locomotive was simply re-lettered to become Nacionales De Mexico #903. What is interesting is, that there REALLY is a NdeM 2-8-0 #903, and the real 903 is preserved in Acambaro, Guanajuato, Mexico. Unlike the real 903, the #75 is bigger, since the real one was originally built for the smaller Narrow Gauge railroads. The locomotive is not a major star in the film, only being shown really good in an escape scene, but she is clearly GWR #75
Here’s a photo with the REAL NdeM #903: http://www.trainboard.com/railimages/showphoto.php/photo/81256/title/ndem-2-8-023903-in-acambaro/cat/1261
The #75 also had a minor role in the classic All-American Film called “A River Runs Through It.” However, the locomotive is now being protrayed as a Great Northern Railway Locomotive. I am unable to determine what the number is on the locomotive. What is very interesting is, even though the film was set in the middle of the Century, in this scene, if you look closely, you can see a Tractor Trailor belonging to SWIFT Transportation glide by in the back ground. Even though its not in this screen shot, its funny how SWIFT, who has a moniker of “So, What I F***k up Today” has totally ruined this shot! This is a classic movie, and I kinda got tired of it, since I watched it in High School too many times…..
#75 had her biggest role in the movie “Breakheart Pass.” This is a classic, Action-Drama film that is centered entirely on the train the #75 is pulling. The locomotive carries #9, and I am unable to decipher what is written on the tender. In the film, the locomotive acquired a fake “Balloon” smoke stack, and got ample amounts of colorful paint to brighten up the engine. The 1966 film is personally one of my favorites, and I highly recommend this movie to anyone, even if they are not a rail enthusiast like myself.
The locomotive has starred in more than these three movies, there’s other movie’s, like Far and Away, Geronimo, and Cat Belluo, with the possibility that the locomotive has also been on TV shows and commercials as well. She is a very photogenic locomotive, and I can see why the locomotive has been used in so many productions. If you ever get a chance to get to Heber City, Utah, you might want to go check out this locomotive. She has not operated in about 10 years, but the Heber Valley Railroad is currently investing a-lot of many hours and money to get the locomotive operational again!
Here’s a photo of the GWR #75 when she was in everyday service on the Great Western Railway: http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=2272669
Here’s a photo of the GWR #75 as she looks today on the Heber Valley Railroad: http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=362777&nseq=16
I hope you enjoyed this post in The CineTrains Project! As always, if you have any suggestions, be sure to check out the “Submitting Ideas” link under the CineTrains banner! As always, HAPPY RAILFANNING!
I would like to know if you could dig up more info on the film history, more specifically commercial history of engine #75. I have fond memories of this train, Mr. Rohrer was a close family friend & often took my father with him to work on this train. I actually have a couple pictures of Mr.Rohrer, my father, Tom Cruise & Ron Howard in front of this very engine!
I want to find the commercial spot the engine was in for Anhueser Busch, my dad still has a door that hung on one of the cars, beautifully hand painted logo
I had the opportunity of being one of many volunteers that helped bring #75 back into service when she arrived at Heber “Valley. She was one of three steam locomotives featured as transportation to the Soldier Hollow venue of the 2002 Olympics and served the railroad well until “time” on the boiler had expired…since then work has been very limited in getting her back into service. To update/correct some information in the above posting, her builder’s plate carries the number 31778/September 1907 and Mr. Rohrer had a daughter and son-in-law to whom he left his estate.
I have an image of the #75 (with its distinctive running board hump over the air pumps) where the tender bears the words “J.W.Grant” rather than the name of the railroad. Does anybody know if this was from some movie or is it from some prior life?
Cat Ballou featured Great Western 51, not 75. Currently, the 51 is owned by John Birmingham and resides in the Hudson Terminal shops. I’d love to see her out on the GW again, but not all miracles can happen…
My father, three bothers and I were at some of the filming of Cat Ballou. There to capture pictures of the engine primarily. Jane Fonda hurt a leg at one point getting off the train. Details are fuzzy since I was only 11 yo at the time.
In Breakheart Pass the tender reads “W&N R.R.” for Wasatch and Nevada railroad. It is visible in a shot at about 1 hr 22 min into the movie. Wasatch and Nevada is visible on one of the passenger cars and “W&NRR” is visible on the freight car.