A star reborn: #18 and the story behind the powerful locomotive in WFE

While Robowski pics were blindingly beautiful, maybe you took a moment and saw the great set pics. Hopefully you recall this shot in the day 1 frenzy:

Choo Choo

When I left the set location this past Friday, this gorgeous train let out a few whistles, biding me farewell and a safe trip home perhaps? Ha! Sure sure…but it was a beautiful sound in the distance. Talking to some locals that came out to observe what they could of WFE filming, they mentioned how nice it was to hear the train whistle blowing frequently. Their kids love it and it makes you reflective of simpler times. I know that’s how I felt as well.

The Fillmore Gazette recently gave us further insight into the beauty behind the beast:

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Story and Photos by Bob Crum

At first sight… wonderment. Hearing her all-to-familiar-sounding whistle ignites nostalgia. Awe… as the first blast of steam enters her massive 20X28 cylinders. With boiler pressure of 180 pounds… her eight 48-inch steel driving wheels apply a whopping 35,700 pounds of tractive force. With a belch of smoke from her majestic stack… she struts down the rails with attitude. And a big smile knowing that she’s about to once again enjoy showgirl status. Life is good.

MORE choo choo nostalgia and the ‘Water For Elephants’ connection after the jump

Known as #18, she was built in 1914 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia, PA, McCloud River Railroad purchased the 2-8-2 steam locomotive for $16,871.79. She enjoyed a brief career as a showgirl before getting down to business on the McCloud primarily hauling logs and lumber.

When the diesels arrived in 1948, the #18 was one of 14 steam locomotives on the property. The #18 was stored and offered for sale or scrap. Meanwhile, the neighboring Yreka Western Railroad was searching for heavier motive power. In 1956, the Yreka road bought two steam locomotives, the #19 (a near twin of the #18) and the #18. They were the primary power on the Yreka Western for only two years before the the Yreka purchased a used diesel.

The two steam locomotives operated frequently until 1964 when the #18 blew a cylinder head while double-heading a special passenger excursion with the #19. The YW lacked the money and expertise to repair the damage so the #18 sat under a tarp in the Yreka yards for many years… slowly rusting away. The owners of the YW finally put the railroad up for sale in early 1998 but the #18 was sold separately. An auction was held for the #18 and the successful bidder was… the McCloud Railway Company. The #18 returned home to McCloud in March of 1998.

In the McCloud shop, #18 underwent major restoration. Newspaper reports tell that the McCloud Railway paid $80,000 for the locomotive and spent an additional $350,000 restoring it. The #18 was finally placed back in service in February, 2001. However, in 2005 financial problems forced the sale of the #18 to the Virginia & Truckee Restoration Committee, which is rebuilding the former Virginia and Truckee railroad between Carson City and Virginia City, Nevada. The #18 ran it’s last trip on the McCloud on Sunday, August 7, 2005.

Now… #18 is about to play a role in a feature film titled ‘Water for Elephants’ based on a novel by Sara Gruen. (ISBN-10: 1565124995) The story: “As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It was the early part of the great Depression, and for Jacob, now ninety, the circus world he remembers was both his salvation and a living hell. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie.

It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great gray hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and, ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.

The cast includes Robert Pattinson as Jacob Jankowski, the novel’s protagonist. He is a “90, or 93”-year-old nursing home resident reminiscing on the time he spent as a circus veterinarian during the Great Depression. Reese Witherspoon as Marlena is a star performer with the circus. Marlena joined the circus after she ran away from home to marry August. She enjoys a special rapport with the horses and cares for them deeply. Christoph Waltz as August, Malena’s husband, is the head animal trainer (Circus owner and Ring Master in the film). He is alternately charming and brutal, both to the humans and animals aboard the Benzini Brothers train.

WFE set

*snort* sneaky paps...WFE set. this shot is impossible unless you have major you-know-what


About tinkrbe1l3

Fan and supporter of all things Robert Pattinson. Co-chauffeur on CosmopolisFilm.com, co-blogger on RobsessedPattinson.com, co-kinker on WaterForElephantsFilm.com, as well as upcoming films: theroverfilm.com, holdontomefilm.com, missionblacklist.com, mapstothestarsfilm.com, queenofthedesertfilm.com. Co-blogger on RobertPattinsonFilms.com
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17 Responses to A star reborn: #18 and the story behind the powerful locomotive in WFE

  1. Lisa says:

    Oh, very cool! The authenticity of this film is going to be blow people’s minds. :o)

  2. Mandy says:

    That is so cool. The set design and costuming is what I’m most interested in seeing. Oh and Rosie to! :)

  3. Christal Wiliams says:

    That’s awesome..I find it all interesting, I live in a town that we actually have a train museum, we have a original train station from the late 1800’s I believe.. I think this is going to be a great movie..Can’t wait to see Rosie too..Though we all know Rob will still the show for us!!!

  4. SnowyHedwig says:

    I fell in love with the train in the first set shots. Thanks for sharing the behind-the-scenes story with us, I love it!

  5. Alison4828 says:

    Excellent story Tink! It’s awesome to get some of the history behind the props and items used in the production. I love all the pictures even the awesome pap pics, they are beautious.

    Thanks for such great coverage of the set and film!

  6. robskitten says:

    Love to see the old steam engines put to good use! They are so beautiful! We have one locally that drives a route from Horseshoe Bend to Cascade through the mountains which are not visible except with the train. I hope we get to see a good deal of #18. Trains in the 1930’s were a vital part of town life.

  7. Ladie_Christina says:

    …….the sale of the #18 to the Virginia & Truckee Restoration Committee, which is rebuilding the former Virginia and Truckee railroad between Carson City and Virginia City, Nevada.

    Who knew #18 would have been so close to home, all the way here in Carson City, Nevada. I drive under the VT&T railroad bridge every day. Glad the old train is back in action!

  8. Kim says:

    Great post! It’s beautifully written and documented. Awesome pics!

  9. Brenda Bowers says:

    I wish i lived close enough to what the making to the movie read the book loved it can’t what to see Jacob at “93” i don’t know who they have cast for that role? Robert you enjoy every minute of it because life is short love ya

  10. Casey from Fillmore says:

    It was great talking to you while waiting for something to happen on Friday. I was down by the set from 9:30am till about 7:30 pm ( I only live 3 miles away). I was waiting for Rob but he was elusive as ever and wished he waved to us when he went by. By the time the main cast left, there were only about 20 of us and no paps. We did see Reese leave but she had her head down as she went by us. I do not think it was a total waste of the day. I got to talk some great people. We did find out what call time Rob had on Monday. I went out at in the morning before his call time and parked my car along side of the road with a sign attached to my car that said ” I have driven a great distance (3 miles) in hopes of you signing my license plate” My license plate says TWI MOM. He did not stop or did not drive by while I was there. I did get some production guys pull behind my car to get a picture of my sign with me holding my license plate. He told me he was going to show it to Rob. I might be sitting in my car some more with my sign and hope he stops.

    • tinkrbe1l3 says:

      hey casey! i was the h2o rep up there on friday ;) i hope u get ur plate signed. i’ll be up there again when they switch locations. reese waving is my goal for the blog. and/or christoph. robo seems like too high of a goal…baby steps ;) let us know how it goes! good luck :)

  11. Jim Lohse says:

    One correction is needed (at least), once the NEVADA COMMISSION FOR THE RECONSTRUCTION OF THE VIRGINIA AND TRUCKEE RAILWAY borrowed the money to buy #18, they leased it to Sierra Railroad, effectively for free.

    McCloud may have restored some things but several parts of the suspension and trucks were frozen. Sierra, who apparently has no expertise with steam maintenance or repair, ran #18 with slapping rods and frozen bearing joints, as well as a blocked sight glass and without properly lubricating the steam locomotive.

    So what is missing from this story is that Sierra returned #18 last year in non-running condition and the private Virginia and Truckee Railroad of Virginia City, Nevada, repaired it in a very short time to get it ready for the movie.

    Once #18 is done, it will return to Virginia City and be used on the tourist operation. Also, to be clear, the line from Virginia City to Gold Hill has been run privately for decades. It’s only been in the last decade or so that the government decided to spend $10 million rebuilding the line from Gold Hill down to the dump in Carson City. Too bad it’s cost $45 million so far, four times over budget.

  12. Kailene Kaina says:

    I love trains! I grew up on the Ringling bros Circus train so I can appreciate these pics!!!!

  13. Lynda says:

    Ahhhhh did they not film on Monday???? What happened???? I wanna see more of Rob and company!! Pics more pics!!

    • Casey from Fillmore says:

      They did film on Monday. I was there for call time at 6:00am and then drove by at 3:00 pm and no paps or fans were in sight. Paps were there on Friday but got in trouble for trespassing and left. It is hard to get pics due to the distance they are filming from the road. They will be filming at this location until Thurs then they will film down at the other location down the road then on to Los Angeles. They will be back at this location later in the month.

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