Out of Scale 1951

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Walt Disney Productions
RKO Radio Pictures

It’s Chip and Dale versus Donald Duck in this cartoon short from the 1950’s. In the grand tradition of Walt Disney and Ward Kimball, Monsieur Duck has constructed a magnificent miniature railway empire in his backyard.

D. Duck is what is known in the model railroad community as a “rivet-counter”. Everything must be to scale (in proportion) to his layout: buildings, trees, even the tiny shovel he uses to scoop coal into the firebox.

There’s trouble when Señor Duck bumps into an enormous, chipmunk-bearing tree he has managed to overlook. Let’s see Donald working on the railroad!


Sir Duck has quite the set up in his fenced-in back forty. Note the snow-capped mountains, bridges, roads and a minutely-detailed town.

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The Professionals 1966

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Columbia Pictures

This star-studded Western featured the graceful lines of Great Western Railway #75, a Baldwin-built 2-8-0, previously seen in my review of Breakhart Pass 1976.

GWR #75 has a dual role, also appearing as N de M engine #903 in the movie. All railroad scenes were filmed east of Indio, California along the iron-ore-hauling Eagle Mountain Railroad.

To sum up, a wealthy Texas millionaire, J.W. Grant (played by Ralph Bellamy), hires four men to rescue his wife, kidnapped by a Mexican revolutionary. The four “professionals” eventually track down the head bandito Jesus Raza (Jack Palance) at his hideout, but things are not all as they seem.

Come along and enjoy the train scenes with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars of the mid-1960’s.


Lee Marvin blasts away from the cab (fireman’s side) of N de M #903. The recoil on that weapon must have been tremendous.

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Porky’s Railroad 1937

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Warner Brothers

This cartoon short came from the talented animators at “Termite Terrace” on the Warner Brothers lot back in the 1930s. My reviewed version came from Looney Tunes Golden Collection, Volume 4, Disk 2.

Porky Pig (voiced here by artist extraordinaire Mel Blanc) is the engineer of an outdated, ready for the scrap heap 2-2-2 steam locomotive named “Toots”.  His nemesis becomes the sparkling new “Silver Fish” (a reference to Burlington’s Pioneer Zephyr). Porky winds up getting challenged to a race with the much faster streamliner.

As seen in the above screen capture, this cartoon was colorized in 1968 (but they did rather a sloppy job of it). Still, the original B&W version is nice and crisp, so let’s take a look at a railroad parody from the golden age of cartooning.


The determined engineer urges his coal-burning locomotive on, in pursuit of the front-running Silver Fish.

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The Railway Children 1970

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EMI Film Productions Limited

I had a heck of a time finding a DVD of this classic tale from jolly old England. The obscure part is, I somehow never saw this movie when it came out, even though we were living in British Columbia at the time. After my first viewing for this review, I can say it was very well done. Good story, quirky supporting actors and a fairly steady parade of steam engines towing an eclectic assortment of old wooden rolling stock.

The train bits were filmed in the Yorkshire region of Great Britain along the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. Happily, all of the locomotives and rolling stock shown in this movie have been preserved.

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The three children stand beside Oakworth station to watch an express train led by GNR Class N2 # 4744, roar through without stopping.

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The Phantom Express 1932

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Majestic Pictures Corporation

A mixture of nicely-detailed train models and Southern Pacific steam power highlights this early talkie. Engineers and Fireman along the “Southwestern Pacific” railroad are freaking out because they see what appears to be an oncoming train, slam their engine into emergency — derailing from the sudden stop, then having the “Phantom Express” mysteriously vanish.

Our star of the picture is SP #4311, a 4-8-2 Mountain, Class Mt-1 (Alco-Schenectady) used at Espee’s Los Angeles roundhouse for daylight scenes.

Come along and look at some classic railroad fare from the early 1930’s!


SP #4311 smokes it up alongside SP #4329, a fellow 4-8-2 Mountain, Mt-3 class. The train indicators on 4311 display “101”.

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Bite The Bullet 1975

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Columbia Pictures

Gene Hackman and Candice Bergen star in this 700 mile horse race loosely-based on an actual event in the early part of the 20th century. Of more interest to us is the extensive use of the newly-created (1971) Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad including a steam-driven “chase train” for the horse riders.

Former Denver & Rio Grande Western #483, a K-36 class 2-8-2 1925 Baldwin product shines in its gaudy paint scheme (including gold rally stripe around the smokestack) as it leads “The Western Press” special.

Many famous sights along the C&TS are visible including Tanglefoot curve, Lobato trestle, the yard at Chama, the snowshed on the wye at Cumbres Pass to name just a few. Let’s dive right in and take a journey on the former D&RGW narrow gauge!


C&TS #483 poses at Cumbres Pass in its gold and red trim (even the driver counterweights are red). Just to show off, the engineer spun the drivers a few times for the camera.

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The Brave Engineer 1950

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Walt Disney Pictures

It’s the Legend of Casey Jones as whimsically interpreted by the animation gods at Disney Studios during their heyday. The cartoon is narrated by Jerry Colonna with musical soundtrack provided by The King’s Men.

This animated short is action from start to finish with all sorts of barriers to Casey bringing the U.S. Mail in on time. Floods, livestock, damsels-in-distress, train robbers and villains — nothing can stop our brave hero! But what about that oncoming double-headed freight train up ahead? Let’s enjoy a fresh look at an old-time American hero!

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Casey is aghast his train might be late as he is continually checking his gold pocket watch; Casey’s 4-4-0 engine #2 snorts and rears up on its haunches as it prepares to rocket off down the track.

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