• Railroads in the movies

  • Discussion related to railroads/trains that show up in TV shows, commercials, movies, literature (books, poems and more), songs, the Internet, and more... Also includes discussion of well-known figures in the railroad industry or the rail enthusiast hobby.
Discussion related to railroads/trains that show up in TV shows, commercials, movies, literature (books, poems and more), songs, the Internet, and more... Also includes discussion of well-known figures in the railroad industry or the rail enthusiast hobby.

Moderator: Aa3rt

  by Hostler
Let's restart this thread again. I have two favorites. The first is Emperor of the North. I have probably seen it a half dozen times or so. Back when it came out, there was a steam excursion from Hoboken to Binghamton behind 2101 (I think). Before the trip the engine was set aside for photograhing, in the cab was Ernest Borgnine in his 'Shack" uniform from the film. Another favorite is Breakheart Pass with Charles Bronson, lots of steam shots, great scenery too. The cold weather really showed off the smoke and steam.


  by krobar
How about Denver and Rio Grande, Kansas Pacific, Night Passage, Danger Lights, Timberjack, and Runaway Train.
  by shortlinerailroader
Tough Guys......Hey, did they really run 4449 into the ground?
Under Seige 2...The wreck scene uses 0-scale models, I think.
Switchback.......The Rio Grande did not have any SD38-2s.
End of the Line..Mo-Pac GP38; also, the dialogue reminds me of home.
The Fugitive......Now THAT was a good train wreck--they used a real train.

  by Hostler
In 'Tough Guys' they also used models for the crash scene. The final scene probably used a full size mock up or even the actual loco with special effects scenery around it to make it look like it had plowed in the ground. Remember those FX guys can do some amazing things. I remember reading a article about the fugitive crash scene, wild in that they used actual full sized equipment. Any railroad item, the TV series 'Casey Jones' with Alan Hale Jr (Gilligan's Island), used to watch it as a kid. I don't I ever saw all of the episodes, but it was fun to watch. How about 'Back to the Future III, another steam crash scene using models. If you remember 'Dick Tracy' years back used models for the railroad scenes.

  by Aa3rt
Hostler-thanks for reviving this topic! Yes, we had a good thread going on the old site, I'm glad to see there's still interest. :)

Tough Guys-IIRC there was an article on the filming of this movie in an issue of "Railfan", you're right, they used both a large scale model and a full-size mockup of 4449 for the wreck scene.

My favorite railroad movies? Probably the same ones I'd listed before:

The Titfield Thunderbolt-filmed in 1953, about a group of British townspeople who start running their local branchline when it is threatened with closure. Great color (or colour, if you prefer) shots of British steam.

The Molly Macguires-not a railroad film per se, but lots of railroad scenes using 4 foot gauge equipment from the long closed Carroll Park and Western, lettered "Carbon and Schuykill" to represent late 1800's anthracite railroading. (A subsequent poster informed me that the steamer used in this movie is now at the Pine Creek Railroad in New Jersey.)

Buster Keaton's silent classic "The General". Filmed in 1927 on a logging railroad in Oregon, this one includes some great shots of some truly vintage equipment. In this one, they REALLY DO wreck a locomotive when it crashes through a burning trestle!

  by james1787
I was watching "Back to the Future III" this evening.. they had a pretty nice Steam Engine and wood cars that they used during the final scenes when they were in the 1800's. Were these movie owned locomotives and track? Or were they owned by a museum / railroad?

  by Aa3rt
The steam locomotive is the famed 4-6-0 from the Sierra Railroad in Jamestown, CA. This is the loco that was the "Hooterville Cannonball" in the "Petticoat Junction" television series and has been seen in a number of other movies. The diesel engines were from a California shortline that runs in the Port Hueneme/Oxnard area. Can't remember the name of the line right now, but it is used frequently for television and movie filming.

  by peirce
Everytime this topic is reintroduced, I have to bring up "Strangers on a Train," directed by Alfred Hitchcock. All the station scenes were shot on location, at what was then (1950) the Danbury, CT, Union Station. The station is now the Danbury Railway Museum.

  by krobar
Hostler, Hey thanks for adding Casey Jones to the list. I remember watching it too, but couldn't remember the name of the show. I'll have to do an internet movie data base search for more info. Also I think they used the Sierra loco in The Iron Horse TV series that starred Robert Preston. :D

  by Aa3rt
Gentlemen, glad to see so much interest! Perhaps I should revive the "Railroads on Television" topic as well, BUT since it was brought up here, here's a link to the Casey Jones television show:


One nice thing about our new format is that you can provide more than one link per post, so here are two to the "Iron Horse" which starred Dale Robertson as Ben Calhoun who won the bankrupt "Buffalo Pass, Scalplock and Defiance Railroad" in a poker game. This series aired from 1966-1968.


Last edited by Aa3rt on Tue Apr 13, 2004 3:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

  by Hostler
I used to watch Petticoat Junction, as I recall they had a series blooper in there. The long shots of the working engine was the Sierra loco. But the closeup shots were either another engine or mockup. This was pointed out years ago. The Sierra engine has the firebox backhead extending far into the cab where as the close up shots show a standard cab with the backhead more forward as was typical. Thanks for the link for Casey Jones, as I look at the list, I saw about half the episodes when I was young.

  by Ken W2KB
I vaguely remember reading that the closein cab shots were in a studio with a mockup. Makes sense.

  by Tony T.
Since posting on the old board, my opinion has not waivered:

"The Train"

It's worth the $$ to get it on DVD, as the director's comments are great. Also, watching the action scenes in slo-mo (vs video tape) is something I do everytime I watch it! No models used in those wreck scenes!!


  by Aa3rt
Ken-I do remember seeing, YEARS ago, an article in TV Guide about the making of "Petticoat Junction" (when the show was in production) with photos of the mock ups of both the locomotive cab and passenger car used when filming.

We seem to have strayed a tad from the subject of "Railroads in the Movies" so I guess it's time to revive the "Railroads on Television" thread as well.

Thanks for all the inputs so far.
  by bill haithcoat
My favorite for all time is "North by Northwest" by Alfred Hitchcock. Very real shots inside and out of the 20th Century Limited overnight from NY to CHI.
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