3:10 to Yuma 1957


Columbia Pictures

Not as well known as 1952’s High Noon, 3:10 to Yuma features a Southern Pacific Railroad Class M-4 Alco 2-6-0 steam engine and train. Filming of the railroad scenes during the movie’s exciting climax occurred in and around little Elgin, Arizona on Espee’s former Patagonia branch — long since abandoned.

From what I’ve researched about this film, no one seems to know for sure exactly WHICH SP 2-6-0 was used. In the picture, the engine is lettered as X62 for the “Yuma and Benson Southern Railroad”, as is the rest of the train (stock car, coach, baggage car, caboose).

Despite having less than 5 minutes of screen time, the Espee consist highlights the climax and resolution of the movie’s conflict.


Y&BS X62 trundles into town wreathed in steam. The entire train can be seen in this shot as it pulls into fictitious “Contention City”, Arizona.

Merriam-Webster.com defines contentious as, “exhibiting an often perverse and wearisome tendency to quarrels and disputes”. A questionable thing to name your town after, but certainly appropriate to the film’s plot.

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How The West Was Won 1962


Metro Goldwyn Meyer

Filmed in glorious Cinerama with a 3 camera setup, this epic film was a star-studded masterpiece of the Hollywood craft. Of more importance to us, are the two steam locomotives and their accompanying rolling stock which graced the movie in the “The Railroad” and “The Outlaws” segments.

Virginia & Truckee #11, “The Reno” (At the time, owned by MGM Studios) was brought out from California to near Rapid City, South Dakota for the “Railroad” construction scenes.

Magma Arizona Railroad #7, (At the time working at the Magma Copper Mine) was filmed on home rails during the movie’s climactic “Outlaws” chase scene and shootout.

Let’s check out two iron horses as they gallop through some eye-popping Western scenery.  Highball!


Disguised as “Verde & Rio Grande Railroad #7”, this 1917 2-8-2 Baldwin product and train trundles through the cactus-laden Arizona desert.

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Midnight Limited 1940

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Monogram Pictures

Jewel thieves are working the Montreal train! Yes, foppish rich-o’s are being relieved of their ice at an alarming rate in this shadowy B-picture from Monogram Studios (motto: We make crappy films and we don’t care).

Mostly filmed on sets, Midnight Limited features 3 separate train journeys, a damsel in distress, one dramatic red herring, lots of men in snappy hats, and a little gunplay at the climax. It’s so bad, it’s good. Shall we take a peek inside? I double dog dare ya!

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It’s kinda pathetic when the best images from a movie come from the posters in the theatre lobby; The headline says it all. Surely the railroad has SOMEONE on the job…

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Trading Places 1983

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Paramount Pictures

While not generally thought of as a train movie, Trading Places uses an Amtrak journey along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) from Washington D.C. to New York City as a key plot device.

Even though most of the interior train shots appear to be sets, there are plenty of fast runbys, external views of sparkling new Buddbuilt Amfleet cars and a brief scene inside Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station. It’s NRPC in the 1980s. Check it out!


In the opening credits, we get a brief glimpse of the Tropicana Orange Juice train on elevated right of way through Philadelphia. F.C.O.J. (frozen concentrated orange juice) would figure significantly in the film’s story.

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Train 406 – 1958


The National Film Board of Canada

Train 406 is the story of a Toronto to Halifax freight train on Canadian National Railways in the late 1950’s. We get a good glimpse of CNR operations and the people responsible for making it happen.

What sets this movie apart is the eclectic collection of first generation diesel motive power including Canadian Locomotive Company (FM) C-liners, Montreal Locomotive Works (Alco) S-4 switchers and General Motors Diesel (GMD Canada) F units and GP9 road switchers. Add to that a healthy dose of CN steam power and CN’s massive yard at Turcot (outside Montreal) and you’ve got 29 minutes of pure railroad entertainment — the way it used to be. Let’s go along for the ride.


Brrr…that looks cold! CN #4536, a GMD GP9 with extra flags flying and running long nose forward, prepares to cut off Train 406 at Turcot Yard.

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Scalplock 1966

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ABC Television / Screen Gems

Scalplock was the pilot movie for the television series, “Iron Horse” which begat 47 episodes over two seasons on ABC from 1966 to 1968. The film starred Dale Robertson (as Benjamin Calhoun) who wins the half-built Buffalo Pass, Scalplock and Defiance Railroad (BPS&D) in a poker game (four queens beats a full house).

Flush with cash and railroad stock from the high-stakes game of chance, Calhoun decides, on a lark, to finish building the railroad west. Needless to say, the guy who LOST the railroad and his confederates are NOT pleased with this turn of events. The movie (and the series) is a chronicle of their efforts to stop Calhoun, or get the railroad back for themselves. Add to that the usual labor troubles, fistfights and loose women to contend with and Calhoun soon discovers he’s got his hands full. Let’s roll along and join the fun.


Director James Goldstone seemed to favor lots of quick, jerky, cuts in this movie making it difficult to get a good look at the locomotive. Nonetheless, here is Sierra Railroad #3 (smokestack cropped out-of-shot) with both cylinder cocks wide open and blasting steam as though it’s going to burst.

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Train Master 2008

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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.

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