1880 Train stars in TV western
Hill City’s well-known 1880 Train will play a role in a 12-hour epic about the Old West, scheduled to air on Turner Network Television in June.
The classic Engine No. 7, a tender car and a rare drover waycar will be seen in two episodes of Into the West, an original limited series produced by TNT in association with DreamWorks Television and Executive Producer Steven Spielberg.
Recognized as one of the oldest operating steam engines in the United States, Engine No. 7 is a 1919 Baldwin locomotive acquired by Black Hills Central Railroad in 1962. During the summer months it makes daily runs between Hill City and Keystone, pulling passenger cars filled with tourists. And TNT guaranteed to return it to the Hill City rail yard in April, in plenty of time for the 2005 tourist season.
The vintage drover waycar, a passenger car for stockmen accompanying cattle shipments to market, is one of two still in existence and the only one currently in use. The other one is in a museum, according to Meg Warder, 1880 Train president and general manager.
"Having this unique piece of railroad history appear in a film that likely will be broadcast numerous times over several years is good for the 1880 Train, the Black Hills and indeed, all of South Dakota," Warder said.
A crowd of curious bystanders congregated to watch the first step of the train’s over-the–road trip to New Mexico. It took two massive hydraulic cranes to lift the 174,000-pound steam engine off the tracks onto 13-axle flatbed trucks that hauled the vintage cargo on the 800-mile trip south.
Filming took place in February at a replica western town TNT producers built on the Ford Ranch near Santa Fe.
Into the West relates the story of two multi-generational families experiencing the development of the West from distinctly different points of view. One family is the Wheeler clan, a Virginia family of wheelwrights making their trek westward. The other is a Native American family of the Lakota tribe. Throughout the six-part series, the families participate in historical events that led to an epic clash of culture, often coming into contact with notable figures of the era.
Cast members include Sean Astin, Tom Berenger, Beau Bridges, Josh Brolin, Gary Busey, Graham Greene, Keri Russell and Irene Bedard – and a couple of South Dakotans.
Mike Grimm, chief mechanical officer for the 1880 Train, and Warder were able to keep a watchful eye on their equipment rented to TNT. Grimm was in the driver’s seat of Engine Number 7 and Warder was also offered a role in the series.
This isn’t the first time the 1880 Train steamed onto television screens. It previously appeared in the television movie Orphan Train as well as in episodes of Gunsmoke and General Hospital.
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