A faux steam locomotive from Fillmore & Western Railway Co. (FWRC) on location at
Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio in Placerita Canyon for the HBO series, "Westworld" (2016—). HBO publicity stills ©2016 (top two).
According to FWRC President Dave Wilkinson (pers. conv. 2017), this is one of two faux steam engines built at a cost of $2.5 million apiece for the 2013 Disney-Jerry Bruckheimer feature, "The Lone Ranger," co-starring Johnny Depp.
"The Lone Ranger" was initially envisioned as a multi-picture serial in the vein of another popular Depp vehicle, "Pirates of the Caribbean." But when it was determined that wouldn't happen,
FWRC purchased the two movie locomotives (presumably for a fraction of the cost) and started renting them out to production companies.
They're not steam-powered, but they do roll. According to David Lustig in Trains magazine (7-2-2013), two complete train sets, including the two faux steam engines, were built in a machine shop in
Sun Valley, Calif., and were designed for speeds up to 30 mph. "The two locomotives had hydraulic hoses connecting them to the tenders, where a pair of 1,000 hp Cummins diesel engines supplied power. Both trains were operated from a computer inside the cab. Even so, a real locomotive engineer was in the cab to control the braking system. In case of an emergency,
he could override the computer. Movie special effects produced all the smoke and steam there is to see in ['The Lone Ranger']."
The locomotives, like the rolling stock, were made to be "lifted on and off their chassis and onto flatbed trucks for highway transport" (ibid.).
Paul Cameron (center), director of photography, on set at Melody Ranch, created the look of "Westworld." ©2016 HBO Pictures. Click to enlarge.
Melody Ranch co-owner Renaud Veluzat said it was fascinating to watch the locomotive being unloaded when it arrived at his movie ranch (pers. conv. 2017).
Veluzat said all interiors and exteriors of "Westworld" are filmed at Melody Ranch except for the "elevator" scenes, which are in an abandoned warehouse at a different location.
In an interview with SCV resident Anthony D'Alessandro for Deadline Hollywood, cinematographer Paul Cameron said that for the pilot episode, the locomotive was brought to Dead Horse Point near
Moab, Utah, for establishing shots as well as train interiors. (When it looks like Utah out the window of the train, it's actually Utah out the window of the train.) Also, Big Sky Ranch in Simi Valley was used for
Dolores' (Evan Rachel Wood's) family home.
"Westworld" co-stars Ed Harris, a 1975 graduate of California Institute of the Arts in Valencia (BFA, Theater). Also featured:
Wood, Anthony Hopkins,
Jeffrey Wright and Louis Herthum.
©2016 HBO Pictures.
Photo by Placerita Canyon resident David Cox, 2017.
©2016 HBO Pictures.
LW3015: 9600 dpi jpegs.