Sierra No. 3

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Sierra No. 3
Old Sierra No. 3 - DH.jpg
Sierra No. 3 in the roundhouse at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in 2011
Specifications
Power type Steam
Builder Rogers Locomotive and Machine Works
Serial number 4493
Build date March 26, 1891
Configuration 4-6-0
UIC classification 1C
Gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Leading wheel
diameter
2 ft 2 in (0.660 m)[1]
Driver diameter 4 ft 8 in (1.422 m)
Boiler pressure 150 psi (1.03 MPa)
Cylinders Two
Cylinder size 17 in × 24 in (432 mm × 610 mm)
Tractive effort 17,470 lbf (77.7 kN)[1]
Career
Railroad(s) Sierra Railway
Number Prescott & Arizona: 3,
Sierra: 3
Current owner State of California
Disposition Operational

Sierra No. 3, often called the "Movie Star locomotive", is a 19th-century steam locomotive owned by Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown, California. Former Transportation History curator at the Smithsonian Institution William L. Withhuhn described the locomotive's historical and cultural significance: "Sierra Railway No. 3 has appeared in more motion pictures, documentaries, and television productions than any other locomotive. It is undisputedly the image of the archetypal steam locomotive that propelled the USA from the 19th century into the 20th."[2] It has been called "the most photographed locomotive in the world."[3] Built in 1891, the locomotive returned to operation in July 2010 after a fourteen-year absence from service and a three-year long overhaul, requiring the replacement of its original boiler.

History[edit]

Sierra No. 3, circa 1904

The locomotive, a 4-6-0 ten-wheeler, was built by the Rogers Locomotive and Machine Works of Paterson, New Jersey. Construction of the locomotive was completed on March 26th, 1891, and it was given Rogers construction number 4493. It has 17 X 24 inch cylinders, 56 inch driving wheels and weighs 50 tons in working order.[1] It was built for the Prescott & Arizona Central Railway (P&AC) as their locomotive #3. The P&AC went bankrupt in 1893 and its owner, Thomas S. Bullock, relocated to California bringing much of his railroad equipment, including the No. 3. He then entered into a partnership with Prince André Poniatowski and William H. Crocker, and together in 1897 they incorporated the Sierra Railway Company of California to connect Oakdale, California with the timber producing regions of Tuolumne County and Calaveras County.[4]

The locomotive was then rechristened Sierra No. 3, and played a key role of the construction of the railroad to Jamestown, California in 1897, Sonora, California in 1899 and Tuolumne, California in 1900. It was the primary locomotive pulling freight trains on the railroad until 1906, when the Sierra Railway purchased a new Baldwin Locomotive Works 2-8-0 locomotive. It played a significant role in logging, mining and dam building operations in the Sierra foothills.

Originally built to burn coal, the locomotive was converted to burn oil sometime between 1900 and 1902.[1]

Sierra No. 3 was involved in several wrecks. In February 1898, a switch mishap killed conductor William G. Bailey.[4] In September 1899, its tender derailed while backing up on a trestle, causing it to collapse. The locomotive turned on its side in 1918 just above Sonora, destroying its original wooden cab, which was replaced with a second-hand steel Southern Pacific Railroad cab.[4] Two years later, Sierra No. 3 made her first known Hollywood film appearance, in a silent serial The Terror with Tom Mix.

During the Great Depression, the Sierra Railway went into bankruptcy, and was reorganized as the Sierra Railroad Company in 1937.[1] Sierra No. 3 was taken out of service in 1932, and sat on a siding in the Jamestown yard for 14 years.[2] It managed to avoid being scrapped during World War II, and again received attention from Hollywood in 1946, when David O. Selznick, the producer of Duel in the Sun being filmed on the Sierra Railroad, proposed to destroy her in a train wreck scene for the movie. The Sierra Railroad's Master Mechanic Bill Tremewan persuaded the railroad ownership not to, and instead shop crews restored the locomotive to operable status for potential charter and movie work.[1] Inspection of the boiler resulted in a reduction of maximum operational pressure from 160 psi to 150 psi. The rebuild was completed in May 1948, and the locomotive officially returned to service heading a Railway and Locomotive Historical Society sponsored excursion train on Memorial Day. Over the next five decades, Sierra No. 3 pulled tourist excursion trains, and appeared in many movies, TV shows and commercials. Among them were High Noon in 1952, for which Gary Cooper won the Academy Award for Best Actor, and Unforgiven, starring and directed by Clint Eastwood, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture for 1992.

Dummy smokestack used in the locomotive explosion scene in Back to the Future Part III.

The locomotive was often relettered and repainted for movie and TV appearances, the most recognizable being the Hooterville Cannonball from the mid-sixties series Petticoat Junction. False smokestacks were also often installed to change the appearance of the locomotive.

In 1979, Crocker and Associates announced their intention to sell their interest in the railroad to Silverfoot, Inc. based in Chicago, but the deal did not include the steam locomotive facilities in Jamestown.[4] That complex, including Sierra No. 3, was acquired by the State of California as a result of legislation passed in April 1981, and signed by Governor Jerry Brown. The acquisition was completed on September 15, 1982, and since then, the locomotive has been the property of the State of California.[1]

In 1995, the Federal Railroad Administration issued new safety standards for steam locomotive boilers. In order to comply with these revised regulations, Sierra No. 3 was removed from service until a complete evaluation of the locomotive's condition could be made.

21st-century renovation[edit]

Sierra No. 3 next to other steam locomotives in the roundhouse at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park
Sierra No. 3's original boiler was removed during a rebuild, photo taken 2011
Renovated movie star Sierra No. 3. taken on Labor Day 2011

Preliminary repairs were completed in 2000–2001 with deferred maintenance funding from the State of California. This included dismantling the locomotive.[5] The project progressed very slowly until 2007, when a major fundraising campaign began. At that time, the budget for the project was estimated at US$600,000, based on the assumption that the existing boiler could be saved.

In a fundraising appeal, Clint Eastwood described Sierra No. 3 as "like a treasured old friend."[2] Eastwood had ridden the locomotive early in his career on the TV series Rawhide, and later used the locomotive in his own movie productions Pale Rider and Unforgiven. Eastwood wrote, "Sierra No. 3 resides at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. It is housed in the original roundhouse which is still in use. Together these two assets provide a rare opportunity to experience history just as it was 109 years ago."[2] Funding for the renovation project was provided by the California Cultural and Historical Endowment,[6] the Irving J. Symons Foundation,[7] the Sonora Area Foundation,[7] the California State Parks Foundation,[8] the Teichert Foundation, DuPont and many individual donors.

The rebuild included boring out the cylinders and turning the drive wheel tires on a lathe. [9] When work on the disassembled locomotive resumed, and the boiler was inspected thoroughly by ultrasound testing,[8] it was discovered that a new boiler was necessary. Its old lap seam design made retrofitting it to modern standards too costly,[9] and the risk of the boiler losing its historical integrity was a risk Railtown staff decided not to take. Engineering drawings and other technical assistance needed to build a new boiler were provided by the Strasburg Rail Road in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.[9] The old boiler was shipped to be used as a pattern to the Chelatchie Boiler Works of Camas, Washington, which fabricated a new welded boiler at a cost of US$600,000.[9] The boiler was then shipped to the historic Southern Pacific shops in Sacramento, California and fitted on the original frame. The locomotive was then trucked back to Jamestown, California for final assembly.[10] The old boiler is now on display at Railtown 1897.

The current configuration of the locomotive represents her appearance during the year 1929, when the movie The Virginian was filmed and provided the first known evidence of the presence of "3-spot's" steel cab. Final cost of the rebuild was US$1.6 million, and the locomotive officially returned to service on July 3, 2010.[11]

Movie appearances[edit]

Lobby card for 1920 Tom Mix movie The Terror shows Sierra No. 3 in the fourth panel.
Gary Cooper, seen here in High Noon, appeared in three movies with Sierra No. 3.
Clint Eastwood, who appeared in two movies and a TV series with Sierra No. 3, wrote a letter supporting fundraising for the renovation of the locomotive.

Sierra No. 3 has appeared in many movies.[2][5][6][7][8][11] According to Railtown 1897, these include the following:

TV appearances[edit]

Sierra No. 3 has also appeared in many television shows.[2][5][6][7][8][11] According to Railtown 1897, these include the following:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Wyatt, Kyle (July 23, 2009). "Detailed History of the Sierra #3". Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. Retrieved June 7, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Sierra Railway No. 3 "The Movie Star Locomotive" Background Information". Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. California State Railroad Museum Foundation. Retrieved June 5, 2011. 
  3. ^ Huxtable, Nils (1995). Classic North American steam. Smithmark Publishers. p. 33. ISBN 978-0-8317-1474-1. 
  4. ^ a b c d Wyatt, Kyle (February 27, 1991). "A History of Sierra Railway 4-6-0 No. 3" (Microsoft Word document). Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. Retrieved June 8, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c Reid, Dixie (January 25, 2007). "Train needs makeover before next Hollywood close-up". Scripps News. Retrieved June 5, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c "California Cultural and Historic Endowment supports famous Sierra Train restoration". CSL Connection. California State Library. 2004. Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Chamber Supports Efforts to Restore Sierra Engine No. 3". The Union Democrat (Sonora, California). December 26, 2006. Retrieved June 5, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c d Ashe, Suzanne (December 11, 2006). "Locomotive fund drive on fast track". The Union Democrat (Sonora, California). Retrieved June 5, 2011. 
  9. ^ a b c d "Restore Sierra No. 3, the "Movie Star" Steam Locomotive". California State Railroad Museum. 2009. Retrieved June 7, 2011. 
  10. ^ Hecteman, Kevin W. (2010). Sacramento's Southern Pacific Shops. Arcadia Publishing. pp. 122–124. ISBN 978-0-7385-8052-4. 
  11. ^ a b c Holland, John (June 19, 2010). "Back Tracks: Historic steam engine to run again in Jamestown". Modesto Bee (Modesto, California). Retrieved June 5, 2011. 


External links[edit]