Danny Glover stars in the suspense thriller set in the Colorado Rockies. The name from the film refers to a type or railroading in order to gain altitude in a short space, while keeping grades at a minimum. The movie stars the famous Danny Glover, as stated at the start of this post, and also co-stars Danny Quiad. The movie was a blockbuster at the time of its release, it was one of the first Rated R movies that I had ever seen. The only thing wrong in the movie, are the locomotives. The movie is set on the Denver and Rio Grande Western railroad west of Denver. The locomotives used are rare EMD SD39’s, however, the DRGW never owned any SD39’s. Whats even more interesting is, when the movie was shot, the DRGW had been merged into the Southern Pacific Transportation Company in 1988, but in September of 1996, the Southern Pacific had been merged into the Union Pacific Railroad. The Union Pacific refused the production company use of any real ex-DRGW locomotives for use in the film, so the company leased two ex-Southern Pacific SD39’s from a rock company, painted them up in the classic DRGW paint scheme, and commence the filming. Lets take a look at those two rare Locomotives.
The lead locomotive in the production is “Rio Grande” #5319. The locomotive was originally built for the Southern Pacific Railroad by the Electro-Motive Division in April, 1970. She was built with Serial #35816 and Frame #7219-2. The locomotive was part of the largest SD39 fleet built, and was part of the 2nd and Final order that the railroad ordered of the model. She served the Southern Pacific for 15 years, and in 1986, the locomotive was retired from the roster. She was then sold to National Helm Leasing as NHL 5319. Right away, the locomotive, who’s owner was CIT Financial, with National Railway Equipment acting as a broker, the unit was sent to the UTAH RAILWAY on short term lease, for the purpose of lugging coal trains over Soldier Summit. When the lease was up, the locomotive was withdrawn from service and stored on the Utah until the locomotive was again leased out. Where the locomotive went to is unknown, but in 1993, the locomotive was sold to Andesite Rock Company for use on pulling rock trains in the Upper Midwest. In 1996, the locomotive was leased to the production company for filming. The unit was sent to Midwest Rail Car in Kansas City to be painted in Rio Grande Colors. When filming finished, the locomotive was sent back to Andesite, without being Re-painted, however, the locomotive was renumbered to ANDX 4027. Since Andresite operates mainly over the D and I Railroad, The locomotive was leased to the D and I Railroad in South Dakota for use on their railroad in the mid 2000’s and she continues to operate, although she has been repainted from the theatrical Rio Grande paint scheme into DAIR’s yellow and black paint scheme.
Here’s a photo of SP 5319 when she was on the SP: http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=384311
Here’s a photo of the ANDX 4027 after filming had finished: http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=1129926
Here’s a photo of the locomotive as she appears today: http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=1129913
The REAL DRGW 5319
Want to know something else? There Really WAS a Rio Grand 5319, but she was not an EMD SD39, but an EMD SD45. She had the serial number 32693 and frame #7951-5. Here’s a photo of the REAL Rio Grande 5319: http://www.locophotos.com/~locophot/PhotoDetails.php?PhotoID=48632
Just like the locomotive above, the “Rio Grande 5325” followed the 5319. She carries the serial #35822 and Frame #7219-8. She was the last EMD SD39 produced for the Southern Pacific. Built in April of 1970, she emerged from the EMD plant in La Grange, IL in the classic Southern Pacific Bloody Nose paint scheme. She worked for the SP for a total of 15 years before being retired in 1986. Right after retirement, the locomotive followed the 5319 to the Utah Railway on short term lease. When the lease expired in 1988, the locomotive was sent elsewhere for further work. She ended up with the 5319 working for the Andresite Rock Company hauling rock trains. Just like 5319, the unit was sent to Midwest Rail Car in Kansas City when the unit was selected to appear in the film, and repainted into the classic Rio Grande paint scheme. After filming, the locomotive was sent back to the upper Midwest to continue hauling rock trains, with a new number, ANDX 4028. The until was leased long term to the D and I Railroad in the mid 2000’s. The unit continue working for the the D and I, but has since been repainted and renumbered to D and I #4028.
Here’s a photo of the SP 5325 as she looked on the SP: http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=528457
Here’s a photo of how she looked after filming, working for ANDX: http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=1128928
Here’s a photo of the unit as she looks today on the D&I Railroad: http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=1129918
The REAL DRGW 5325
Just like the 5319, there really was a Rio Grande 5325. She was also an EMD SD45, built in March 1968. She carries the serial #33757 and Frame #7085-1. Unlike the Real 5319, the real 5325 still exists today.
Here’s a photo of the REAL 5325 as she looked on the DRGW: http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=159001
Here’s a photo of the REAL 5325 after being sold to CEFX by the Union Pacific: http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=487212
Here’s a photo of the REAL 5325 after being sold to CITX: http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=2546551
I hope you enjoyed this presentation on the film “Switchback.” The producer may not realize it, but the two locomotives used in this film were a great choice. There were only 54 EMD SD39’s built. The movie is a great one, and I enjoyed watching it. I would not recommend this movie to children. Nude women, Pornographic images in a car, and very foul language appear all through-out the movie. However, I do rate this movie a 7.5 out of a 10. As always, if you have any suggestions of films you want me to research, learn how to contact me by clicking the “Submitting Ideas” tab under the CineTrains Banner! HAPPY RAILFANNING!