Insomnia, a Clint Eastwood movie, and the last rolling stock from Promontory

Posted by Jim Wrinn
on Sunday, January 27, 2019

I am normally a sound sleeper. But recently, after letting our dog out and then getting her back in the house and making my way to bed, I couldn’t’ go back to sleep. Instead of just lying there, I got up and decided to see if there was a movie on. Sure enough, there was a film on that I’d just seen a reference to in a feature story that’s in our March issue (which will be in subscriber hands in the next few days and on sale at bookstores and newsstands Feb. 12). I didn’t sleep much that night, but I got to see a great movie that unknowingly features a significant piece of transcontinental railroad history.

Wendell Huffman of Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City prepared a four-page report about the last piece of rolling stock that is left from the May 10, 1869 ceremony at Promontory Summit, Utah, that marked the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. One-hundred fifty years ago, the car was Leland Stanford’s conveyance from Sacramento, Calif., to Promontory for the ceremony. Charles Crocker used the car more than Stanford, and it later became a coach at the legendary Virginia & Truckee short line. You can read more about the car’s history and preservation, but what caught me was its short movie pedigree. Among the list of films the car appears in is Clint Eastwood’s 1985 Western “Pale Rider.” The car appears twice on screen during a residency on California’s storied Sierra Railway.

That was the movie I watched late at night. I recommend both the movie and Wendell’s story, at more reasonable hours.

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