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On board the ‘movie railroad’

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POSTED April 6, 2012 9:40 p.m.

OAKDALE — With its unspoiled scenery, the Sierra Railroad is singled out by movie producers from around the world as a preferred location for filming.

Known as “The Movie Railroad, Sierra has been featured in over 300 motion pictures, television programs and commercials. Such Hollywood movie stars as Clint Eastwood, Michael J. Fox, John Wayne, Michael Landon, Errol Flynn, Gary Cooper, William S. Hart, and Drew Barrymore all played a part in the Sierra Railroad’s storied past.

The first movie filmed on the Sierra was The Red Glove in May 1919. Then came diverse and varied films such as the first “talkie” filmed on the railroad, The Virginian (1927); Dodge City (1939); Oscar-winning High Noon (1951) with Grace Kelly and Gary Cooper; The Great Race (1966); Finian’s Rainbow (1969); The World’s Greatest Lover (1970); the IMAX movie To Fly (1975); 48 Hours (1982); Pale Rider (1985), Back to the Future III (1989); and Unforgiven (1992). A more complete list is shown below.

The Sierra Railroad was used for a variety of television shows, including Petticoat Junction, The Lone Ranger, The Wild Wild West, The Big Valley, Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, The A Team, and Monster Garage.

The Sierra has been used for a wide variety of commercials and photo shoots. Most recently, AFLAC’s famous duck came to the railroad to film a “silent movie”-style commercial.



Partial list of Movies

• American Grace (2003) 1970s-era movie inspired by 1960s-based American Graffiti that takes place in nearby Modesto. Scenes included a train colliding with hearse and helicopter landing in downtown Oakdale.

• The Sound of the Lark (2001)

• Bad Girls (1994) with Drew Barrymore.

• Color of a Brisk and Leaping Day (1994) with REM singer Michael Stipe who co-produced movie with Sierra’s current Roadmaster Larry Ingold.

• Unforgiven (1992) with Clint Eastwood

• Back to the Future III (1990) with Michael J. Fox.

• Pale Rider (1985) with Clint Eastwood.

• Blood Red (1983) about Napa Valley wine wars

• Chattanooga Choo Choo (1983) with Joe Namath, OJ Simpson, Barbara Eden & George Kennedy

• Howard the Duck (1982)

• 48 Hours (1982) with Nick Nolte and Eddy Murphy

• The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again (1979) with Don Knotts & Tim Conway

• Fast Charlie--The Moon-beam Rider (1979) stars David Carradine in motorcycle race. Dangerous scene with Sierra #28 chasing riders over Draper trestle.

• Bound for Glory (1976) David Carradine & Randy Quaid

• Nickelodeon (1976) with Ryan O’Neal & Burt Reynolds.

• Oklahoma Crude (1973) with George C Scott and Faye Dunaway

• The Great Bank Robbery (1969) includes a scene with a gang on Engine #3 chasing Clint Walker, Zero Mostel & Kim Novak in a hot air balloon.

• Finian’s Rainbow (1968) with Fred Astaire

• The Great Race (1966) with Jack Lemmon & Tony Curtis

• Man of the West (1958) with Julie London and, for the fourth time, Gary Cooper.

• Terror in a Texas Town (1958) with Sterling Hayden & Sebastian Cabot

• The Big Land (1957) with Alan Ladd & Edmond O’Brien

• Seven Bad Men (1955) with Randolph Scott

• Apache (1954) with Burt Lancaster & Jean Peters

• High Noon (1952) with Gary Cooper & Grace Kelly and winner of four Academy awards

• My Little Chickadee (1940) is a comedy with “hustlers” W.C. Fields & Mae West

• Go West (1940) Marx Brothers comedy with special track that make it appear the locomotive jumped off tracks and ran through farm buildings.

• Santa Fe Trail (1940) with Errol Flynn & Ronald Reagan

• Union Pacific (1939) with Barbara Stanwyck, Joel McCrea & Robert Preston

• North of the Rio Grande (1937) Hopalong Cassidy film is only known movie with Sierra #30

• The Texan (1930) with Gary Cooper & Fay Wray (of King Kong fame!).

• The Virginian (1929) with Gary Cooper was the first outdoor “talkie” movie ever filmed in the world. The scene was filmed at Cooperstown.

• The Red Glove (1919) first movie filmed on Sierra.



Partial list of Television Shows

• Monster Garage (2004) Famous biker & motorcycle mechanic Jessie James raced a locomotive at Railtown 1897.

• A Work of Giants (2003) BBC show filmed near Warnerville about the building of America’s transcontinental railroad.

• West Tech (2003) History Channel show on first train robbery.

• Kenny Rogers Gambler II (1983)

• The A Team (1983)

• Kenny Rogers as the Gambler (1980)

• East of Eden (1980)

• Ishi, the last of his tribe (1978) with Eloy Phil Casados & Dennis Weaver about the last surviving Yahi Indian who feels sorry for trains he watches because they always follow the same lonely trail.

• A Woman Called Moses (1978) made-for television movie starring Cicely Tyson as Harriet Ross Tubman who led slaves to freedom via “Underground Railroad”.

• Little House on the Praire (1975-83) with Michael Landon, Lou Gossett, Victor French and Richard Jaekel.

• Bonanza (1972) with Lorne Greene & Michael Landon1

• The Red Pony (1972) television movie starring Henry Fonda & Maureen O’Hara

• Lassie (1971-72)

• Gunsmoke (1971) 3-part episode about an Army gold shipment robbery.

• The Men from Shiloh (1970) with Lee Majors

• Petticoat Junction

• The Man from UNCLE (1967) with Robert Vaughn & David McCallum

• The Legend of Jesse James (1965-66)

• The FBI (1965) with Efrem Zimbalist & Phillip Abbott

• The Big Valley (1964) with Barbara Stanwyck & Richard Long, including series pilot movie.

• The Wild Wild West (1964) with Robert Conrad, including series pilot movie.

• Death Valley Days (1962-65) with host Ronald Reagan

• Rawhide (1960) with Clint Eastwood

• Tales of Wells Fargo (1957-59) with Dale Robertson

• The Lone Ranger (1956) with Clayton Moore & Jay Silverheels.

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