Train Master 2008

tm002 tm003

Moving Pictures / Phil Bransom Productions

Filmed entirely in the State of Oregon, Train Master gives us a look at three different railroad operations. First is the Portland & Western Railroad; Second is the Columbia Gorge Model Railroad Club; Third is the Pacific Northwest Live Steamers.

The graphics on the DVD and packaging makes me think the artist was a closet Great Northern Railway fan. It shows a high-nose EMD Geep in GN Ry’s orange/green/gold stripe scheme. Independently produced, this movie is a tribute to a young boy who loved trains.

Internet Movie Database gives this movie only 5.2 stars out of ten and it’s easy to see why. Despite being promoted as a children’s movie, the film’s dirge-like soundtrack is depressing and the plot is hard to follow with the live railroad operations bordering on unbelieveable.

Despite all that, there are splendid train bits to examine and that’s what we’re here for. Let’s head to the Beaver State and see what’s rolling…


Beautiful 3/4 view of Willamette Western Railroad (WWR) #1200. This unit is a Portland & Western Railroad SW9 switcher, originally built for the Pittsburg & Shawmut in October 1953 as P&S # 232/1866 — where it received its red/white/blue paint scheme for the American Bicentennial.

tm004 tm005

The movie opens with old head Jeremiah Wilson (played by Michael Biesanz) running a Portland & Western ex-Rock Island GP40 #3006.

tm006 tm007

Looming ahead of Jeremiah’s train is the former Trojan Nuclear Power Plant which figures into the movie’s twisted plot — later on.

tm008 tm017

Next thing you know, Jeremiah’s down at the Columbia Gorge Model Railroad Club with his grandson, Thomas Wilson-Ward (played by Elijah Nelson).  Very nice model of Portland Union Station!

tm018 tm020

Grandpa even takes his two grand kids all the way down to Molalla Train Park for a ride behind an Erie Triplex.

tm016 tm022tm024

Uh-oh…net profits are way down. WWR has just been bought by an Eastern railroad. Sent out to run WWR, Brett Banner (played by Jon Ashley Hall) does NOT get along with our hero, Jeremiah. Soon, the bitter, unemployed engineer finds himself back in Molalla with nothing to do.

I have to say that actor Jon Ashley Hall did a wonderful job portraying the snot-nosed prick who fires our hero Jeremiah.

Much plot left off HERE

tm033 tm025

Thomas and friends sneak into Grandpa’s model layout (Columbia Gorge Model RR) for a look around. Here we see a vineyard/winery/mansion “lift out” section.

tm026 tm027

Two more lift out sections.

tm030 tm032

Here Thomas operates a train as his sister looks on; Rio Grande Zephyr meets Amtrak’s Coast Starlight on the Steel Bridge in Portland.

Much more plot left off…

tm037 tm041

Somehow, the kids all wind up at the rail yard on the steps of WWR #1201; Oh, no! Brett Banner’s jerk SON Justin (played by Daniel Nelson) has KIDNAPPED Thomas’ favorite, plastic dinosaur! Justin refuses to return said plastic lizard until Thomas operates the locomotive. Yeah, right.

tm053 tm054

Sure enough, the kids are soon rocketing down the tracks unable to stop. I like the backwards “E” on their hastily scrawled “HELP” sign…

tm048 tm049tm050 tm051

Nice sequence of closing an open railroad swing bridge — by hand!

tm057 tm059

Will they get the bridge closed in time?; Made it! WWR #1201 zooms across the span.

tm044 tm060tm063 tm062

What are these nice people in the lawn chairs waiting for? Yikes, they’re just about to blow up the old cooling tower at the Trojan Nuke Plant! One more MAJOR obstacle in the path of the kid’s runaway locomotive!

tm064 tm065

A couple sunny views of WWR #1201 about to pass over the camera.


WWR #1201 smokes it up as it prepares to enter a short tunnel.

And the credits roll. How did they stop the runaway train, you ask? They don’t say. One minute WWR #1201 is speeding along and the next….the kids are seen walking down the tracks towards a road crossing where their parents and the media are waiting. No locomotive in sight. Maybe it ran out of diesel fuel?

In summary, it’s….just not a good movie. I had to watch most of it with the sound OFF and subtitles on — just couldn’t stand that ponderous, minor-chord sound track. Do not watch Train Master if you are depressed. As stated above, the film’s saving grace is the train scenes — Hmmm, that Molalla Train Park sounds interesting — might have to take a road trip down there to see it!

Here’s what IMDb has to say about Train Master:

If you have ANY information about this movie, please contact me at:



About Lindsay Korst

Webmaster, Blogmaster, Ferroequinologist - Lindsay Korst works for a nationwide home improvement center after a 20+ year career supporting computer users. A resident of the Seattle area since 1976, he has had a life-long interest in railroads, particularly those in the Pacific Northwest. He is an enthusiastic participant in the Great Northern Railway Historical Society. He and his wife reside in Redmond, Washington.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Train Master 2008

  1. Pingback: Rails and Ties 2007 | Obscure Train Movies

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s