Courage Under Fire is one of the more compelling movies ever made about the United States Armed Forces. The movie follows Lieutenant Colonel Nathaniel Serling, played by Denzel Washington, who was involved in a freak friendly fire accident during the first Gulf War in the early 1990’s, and his mission to determin if Army Captain Karen Emma Walden, played by Meg Ryan, should be the first woman to receive (posthumously) the Medal of Honor for valor in combat. During the visit to one soldier, who knew about Serling’s incident, drives along the tracks, mad with a case of PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and crash’s headfirst into a moving train.
The scene in question was filmed in Bertram, Texas, on the Gulf, Colorado and San Saba Railway, a shortline railroad in Texas that operates a former Santa Fe Railway Branch line between Lometa and Brady, Texas. The two locomotive used in the film were painted red for the film, and both of them came from the Chicago and Northwestern Railway. The first locomotive is GCSR 4303. The unit was built in November 1956 for the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway (M&STL). Built with the serial #22822 and Frame #7537-3, she was the final unit of a 3 locomotive order built by EMD’s long closed Cleveland, Ohio plant. This plant operated from 1946 to sometime in the Late 1950’s, during the race to replace all Steam Locomotives by North American railroads. The locomotive was delivered to the M&STL as its #602. She was acquired by the M&STL by trading in an FT A-B-A set (445 A, 445B and 445C) for the new EMD GP9s. She stayed on the M&STL roster until the railroad was bought and merged into the Chicago and Northwestern railway in 1960. She then became CNW #602 and retained that number until June of 1972, when, like most of the CNW GP7’s and GP9’s, were all rebuilt into EMD GP9R’s. The program was so extensive, and successful, that the CNW was purchasing retired GP7’s and GP9’s for their own use after rebuilding. The Locomotive was renumbered to CNW 4303 after rebuild, and remained on the CNW roster until June of 1995, when she was retired, just 1 month before the Chicago and Northwestern, Chicago’s first railroad, was merged into the Union Pacific Roster. She did not linger long before the locomotive was sold the the GCSR, along with sister unit 4308. When the movie was filmed, both the 4303 and the 4308 were both in a scarlet red primer, getting ready for paint, when the locomotive were used in the Courage Under Fire train crash scene. Today, the 4303 is still in everyday service on the GCSR, working the many grain elevators along the line.
Here’s a photo of the 4303 during when she was CNW 602 (She is behind the Locomotive): http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=2039438
Here’s a photo of the 4303, working the long abandoned CNW “Cowboy Line” in Nebraska: http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=257188
Here’s a photo of the GCSR 4303 as she looks today, along with other GCSR power: http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=468507
The second locomotive is also of Minneapolis and St. Louis ancestry. She was built by the EMD La Grange, IL plant in October 1957, with serial #22982 and Frame #7541-1. She was delivered to the railroad as M&STL 607. Like the 603, she was a product of another Trade in. The M&STL traded in EMD F2 A-B-A set #147 (147 A, 147B and 147) for GP9’s #606-608, of which the 607 was the 1st unit of the three built. The locomotive came to the C&NW when the M&STL was merged into that railroad in 1960, in which she became CNW 607. In July 1972, the locomotive was sent to the railroads former M&STL shops in Oelwien, IA to be rebuilt into a GP9R, and when she emerged a short time later, she had become CNW 4308. Along with other lower numbered CNW 4300’s, she was retired in 1995, and was basically immediately sold to the GCSR. Along with the 4303, the 4308 was in her scarlet red primer, ready to be painted, when she appeared in the movie. Today, the locomotive is not in service, as she suffered a major mechanical failure and is serving as a parts source, and will eventually either be rebuilt, or more likely, cut up for scrap
Here’s the 4308, about a year after the M&STL was merged into the CNW: http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=388638
Here’s a photo of the 4308 10 years after her 1972 rebuild: http://www.locophotos.com/PhotoDetails.php?PhotoID=41000
And here’s a photo of the 4308 as she looks today, as a parts source: http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=1513287
Hope you enjoyed the latest from ‘The CineTrains Project”, and I hope you will enjoy the past articles I have done and the future projects I have in mind. If you have an suggestions for me, just click the “Submitting Ideas” tab under our banner. All recommendations are looked into. HAPPY RAILFANNING!