The Beverly Hillbillies character
|Worker(s)||Charley Pratt (engineer)
Floyd Smoot (conductor)
|Species||1890s abbreviated train|
The Hooterville Cannonball is a fictional railroad train featured in Petticoat Junction, an American situation comedy that originally aired on CBS from 1963 to 1970, and was produced by Filmways, Inc who also produced Green Acres and The Beverly Hillbillies. Petticoat Junction shares some characters and its locale, the fictional town of Hooterville, with Green Acres. The shows feature rural characters in humorous and sometimes absurd situations.
The most unusual "character" in the Petticoat Junction cast is the Hooterville Cannonball, an 1890s abbreviated train with a steam locomotive and single combination car (with a baggage and passenger section). The train is operated more like a taxi service by retired engineer Charley Pratt (Smiley Burnette) and retired conductor Floyd Smoot (Rufe Davis). It operates on a long forgotten spur between Hooterville and Pixley that was disconnected from the railway's main line after the collapse of a trestle twenty years before the start of the series. It is not uncommon for the Cannonball to make an unscheduled stop in order to go fishing or to pick fruit for Kate Bradley's menu at the Shady Rest Hotel. Occasionally, Betty Jo Bradley can be found with her hand on the Cannonball's throttle, as running the train home from trips into town is one of her favorite pastimes.
J. Homer Bedloe (played by Charles Lane) is vice president of the C&FW Railroad, the owner of the Cannonball. Bedloe is a mean-spirited executive, and he periodically visits the Shady Rest Hotel and attempts to end the train service of the Hooterville Cannonball (and never succeeds).
In Episode 31 of Season 1, "Charley Abandons The Cannonball," engineer Charley Pratt picks up his guitar and sings an ode to the train. The lyrics are sung roughly to the tune of "Wabash Cannonball".
There were actually two Hooterville Cannonball trains used for filming. The working model was the Sierra No. 3 locomotive, and it was used to film all the exterior "long shots," including the show's opening and closing credits. This locomotive is still operational at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in California, after a complete restoration that was finished in 2010. Clint Eastwood was part of a fundraiser for the restoration. He was familiar with the Sierra No. 3 from his days on the western television show Rawhide, and he used it in his films Pale Rider and Unforgiven.
A full-scale prop locomotive was used for studio sound stage scenes. It was built in 1950 by 20th Century Fox for a movie called A Ticket to Tomahawk, starring Dan Dailey, Walter Brennan, Rory Calhoun and Marilyn Monroe. It was a replica of a locomotive called the Emma Sweeny, and it was pulled by a team of mules for its scenes in the film. The original 1950 cost of the elaborate studio mock-up was $40,000. Later in the 1950s, Fox sold the wooden/metal/fiberglass locomotive replica to Harvey Dick, who used it for the décor of the Barbary Coast Lounge in the lobby of his Hoyt Hotel, an 1890s style gas-light hotel in Portland, Oregon. Harvey Dick loaned the replica to the producers of Petticoat Junction in exchange for the prominent screen credit seen at the end of each episode: "Train furnished by Barbary Coast, Hoyt Hotel, Portland, Oregon." It was also used in the show The Wild Wild West for scenes of the engine and tender.
In the 1970s, the locomotive replica was purchased by Sacramento restauranteur/collector Sam Gordon. Gordon displayed it in the parking lot of his Sam's Stage Coach Inn (Sam's Town) along Hwy 50 in Cameron Park, California, which is about 30 miles east of Sacramento. The replica fell into disrepair. In 1979, it was purchased by John Queirolo and Rick Stevenson, who later gave it to the Amador County Museum in Jackson, California, where it was restored and displayed. In August 2011, the Amador County museum sold the locomotive replica to the Durango Railroad Historical Society in Durango, Colorado, which planned to restore it to its original state as the Emma Sweeny.
- "Railtown 1897 in Jamestown Resumes Steam Train Rides Behind Historic Sierra No. 3 Beginning on Saturday, April 4" Sierra Sun Times March 11, 2015 retrieved October 25, 2015
- LaMarche, Bill "Petticoat Junction" star Linda Kaye Henning to Attend Oregon Zoo's Train Party" May 30, 2009 retrieved October 8, 2015
- Durango Railroad Historical Society. "Emma Sweeny". Retrieved December 24, 2012.