From the very earliest days, the railroad has been an essential element of motion pictures and television. The locomotive is an icon in American culture and a symbol of progress and industrial might. The railroad is so much a part of American life that the question often is not whether to use a train, but how to accomplish it.

The California State Railroad Museum, its Foundation, will help make the railroad an integral part of your production – and do so in an efficient, economical, and historically accurate fashion. We are committed to cooperation with the motion picture and television industries as an important part of our mission to “tell the story of railroading” to the widest possible audience.

Through our vast facilities in association with the California State Railroad Museum, and our partnership with the Tuolumne County Film Commission, we can help create sets, landscapes, and action representing virtually any part of the country over a 150-year time span. And we can make the illusion real with our unparalleled collections of railroad equipment and artifacts. Nowhere else in the United States does one organization offer:

  • Range of scenery and location possibilities
  • Variety of trains, buildings, and props
  • Ease of access
  • Full complement of support services
  • Depth of research resources

Railtown 1897 State Historic Park is a part of California State Parks and has been a popular site for motion picture and television location filming since 1919. Hundreds of films and television programs have benefitted from the combinations of scenery, equipment, and action possible, ranging from “My Little Chickadee” to “High Noon” and “Petticoat Junction.” There are two distinct components at Railtown 1897 which together offer a truly comprehensive selection of site, landscape, action and historic railroad equipment options.

Railtown 1897 itself is a state park site comprised of numerous historic railroad buildings, tracks, turn-of-the-century machinery, modern and historic railroad equipment, a working turntable, and the unmistakable ambience of the past. This is a working railroad shop, so that equipment is constantly under repair and the general “feel” of the facility is one of legitimate activity.

The route of the Sierra Railroad extends from the semi-arid San Joaquin Valley floor at Oakdale through amazingly varied countryside to the hilly, heavily forested terrain of Tuolumne County. In between, the railroad passes through sparsely populated areas capable of representing the classic West, deciduous forests typical of the Allegheny Mountains, tallgrass prairie, high plains, and pine forests typical of the upper Mid-West and plains. The terrain ranges from sweeping open vistas to twisting curves through deep cuts and over high fills. There are many different vantage points from which to frame action on this railroad, and the railroad is long enough to suggest journeys of great distances.

Let Us Help You!

Railtown 1897 State Historic Park looks forward to your inquiry, and will do our best to make railroading a part of your picture. Please contact us at [email protected].

For details about filming through Tuolumne County, visit the Tuolumne County Film Commission’s Web site. A current production guide is available through the film commissioner, with a wide variety of local businesses that are experienced and eager to work with you to make your project a success.

Selected Film Credits

  • Virginian (1929)
  • Dodge City (1939)
  • My Little Chickadee (1940)
  • Young Tom Edison (1940)
  • Santa Fe Trail (1940)
  • Duel in the Sun (1946)
  • High Noon (1952)
  • Rage at Dawn (1955)
  • Man of the West (1958)
  • Rare Breed (1966)
  • Great Race (1966)
  • Great Bank Robbery (1969)
  • Great Northfield Minnesota Raid (1972)
  • Oklahoma Crude (1973)
  • Bound for Glory (1976)
  • Nickelodeon (1976)
  • World’s Greatest Lover (1977)
  • Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again (1979)
  • Gambler (1980)
  • Long Riders (1980)
  • East of Eden (1980)
  • Shadow Riders (1982)
  • Chattanooga Choo Choo (1984)
  • Pale Rider (1985)
  • Back to the Future (1990)
  • Unforgiven (1992)
  • Bonanza: The Return (1993)
  • Bad Girls (1994)
  • Shaughnessy (1996)
  • Song of the Lark (2000)
  • Redemption of the Ghost (2000)