Locomotive Wiki

Sierra Railway No. 3 is a 4-6-0 "Ten Wheeler" mixed traffic steam locomotive. No. 3 was built in 1891 by the Rogers Locomotive & Machine Works of Paterson, New Jersey, for the Prescott & Arizona Central Railway as their No. 3, named "W. N. Kelley" after the company treasurer. In 1893, the P&AC went bankrupt, and No. 3 was out of work. In 1897, the locomotive was moved from Arizona to Oakdale, California, where she resumed service as Sierra Railway No. 3.

Sierra No. 3 operated in freight, passenger, and helper service until 1932, when she was retired and stored near the Jamestown Roundhouse. The locomotive was overhauled and restored to operating condition in 1948 for movie and excursion service. Sierra No. 3 was removed from service in 1996, pending major repairs. Federal regulations regarding the operation of steam locomotives in the United States were updated in the late 1990's, which led to the decision to replace the original Rogers-built boiler on the engine.

Following a large fundraising effort by Railtown 1897 State Historic Park and the California State Railroad Museum Foundation, Sierra No. 3 returned to operation on July 3rd, 2010.

Sierra No. 3 has been featured in more Movies and T.V. Shows than any other locomotive in motion picture history. The locomotive has been recognized nationally as "The Most Photographed Locomotive in the World", due to her numerous film credits.


In 1929, Sierra No. 3 appeared in "The Virginian" with Gary Cooper, the first motion picture filmed with live sound on-location.

The locomotive has also appeared in High Noon, The Great Race, Bound for Glory, Back to the Future Part III, Unforgiven, and dozens of TV shows, which include The Lone Ranger, Petticoat Junction, Rawhide, Death Valley Days, Lassie, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, and Little House on the Prairie.

Motion Picture Appearances[]

Since 1920, Sierra No. 3 has been used in over 170 films and television series. Below is a short list of movies and television shows featuring the locomotive.

  • The Terror, 1920 starring Tom Mix - First confirmed appearance of the locomotive in a motion picture.
  • The Virginian, 1929 starring Gary Cooper and Walter Huston. #3 was portrayed as Union Pacific Railroad #3.
  • The Texan, 1930 starring Gary Cooper and Fay Wray.
  • Sierra Passage, 1950, starring Wayne Morris and Lola Albright
  • Wyoming Mail, 1950, starring Stephen McNally, Howard Da Silva and Ed Begley, #3 stars as Union Pacific Railroad #3 again. Sierra Railway No. 18 also starred in the film.
  • High Noon, 1952, starring Gary Cooper, who won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role. The film won three additional Academy Awards.
  • The Cimarron Kid, 1952, starring Audie Murphy and James Best
  • Kansas Pacific, 1953, starring Sterling Hayden and Eve Miller, #3 was portrayed as Kansas Pacific Railroad #3.
  • The Moonlighter, 1953, starring Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray and Ward Bond
  • Apache, 1954, starring Burt Lancaster, Jean Peters and Charles Bronson
  • Rage at Dawn, 1955, starring Randolph Scott and Forrest Tucker. #3 was portrayed as Ohio & Mississippi Railroad #3.
  • The Return of Jack Slade, 1955, starring John Ericson, Neville Brand and Angie Dickinson
  • Texas Lady, 1955, starring Claudette Colbert and Barry Sullivan
  • The Big Land, 1957, starring Alan Ladd, Virginia Mayo and Edmund O'Brien
  • Terror in a Texas Town, 1958, written under another name by blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, and starring Sterling Hayden and Sebastian Cabot
  • Man of the West, 1958, starring Gary Cooper, Julie London and Lee J. Cobb. #3 was portrayed as Fort Worth & Chihuahua Railroad #3.
  • Face of a Fugitive, 1959, starring Fred MacMurray, Dorothy Green and James Coburn
  • The Outrage, 1964, a remake of Rashomon as a western, starring Edward G. Robinson, Paul Newman, Laurence Harvey, Claire Bloom and William Shatner.
  • The Great Race, 1965, starring Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood
  • The Rare Breed, 1966, starring James Stewart, Maureen O'Hara and Brian Keith
  • The Perils of Pauline, 1967, starring Pat Boone and Terry-Thomas
  • Finian's Rainbow, 1968, starring Fred Astaire and Petula Clark
  • A Man Called Gannon, 1968, starring Tony Franciosa and Michael Sarrazin
  • The Great Bank Robbery, 1969, starring Zero Mostel and Kim Novak, portrayed as South-Western Texas Railroad #98.
  • Joe Hill, 1971, a biopic about the IWW activist Joe Hill, starring Thommy Berggren. The film won the Jury Prize at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival.
  • The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid, 1972, starring Cliff Robertson and Robert Duvall
  • Oklahoma Crude, 1973, starring George C. Scott and Faye Dunaway
  • Nickelodeon, 1976, starring Ryan O'Neal, Burt Reynolds and Tatum O'Neal
  • Bound for Glory, 1976, a biopic of Woody Guthrie, starring David Carradine and Randy Quaid. This was the first major film to use the Steadicam, and Haskell Wexler won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography for the film, and the film also won another Academy Award. Sierra Railroad #34 also starred in the film as Santa Fe #1496.
  • The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again, 1979, starring Tim Conway and Don Knotts. #3 was portrayed as Sierra Railroad #8. Interesting fact was there was no locomotive on the Sierra's roster that had that number.
  • The Long Riders, 1980, starring teams of brothers including James Keach and Stacy Keach, David Carradine and Keith Carradine, and Dennis Quaid and Randy Quaid. Portrayed as Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific #3.
  • Blood Red, 1986, starring Eric Roberts, Giancarlo Giannini, Dennis Hopper and Julia Roberts in her acting debut.
  • Back to the Future Part III, 1990, starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd and Mary Steenburgen. #3 was portrayed as Central Pacific Railroad #131.
  • Unforgiven, 1992, directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Eastwood and Gene Hackman and winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, Academy Award for Best Director and two other Academy Awards
  • Bad Girls, 1994, starring Drew Barrymore, Andie MacDowell, Madeleine Stowe and Mary Stuart Masterson.
  • The Color of a Brisk and Leaping Day, 1996, starring Peter Alexander. #3 was portrayed as Yosemite Valley Railroad #27.

#3 also starred in several TV Shows. The list follows:

  • The Lone Ranger, 1956, starring Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels.
  • Tales of Wells Fargo, 1957, starring Dale Robertson and William Demarest
  • Casey Jones, 1958, starring Alan Hale, Jr., #3 was portrayed as Midwest & Central Railroad #1.
  • Rawhide, 1959-1966, starring Clint Eastwood and Eric Fleming.
  • Overland Trail, 1960, starring William Bendix and Doug McClure.
  • Lassie, 1961–1962, starring Jon Provost, June Lockhart and Hugh Reilly.
  • Death Valley Days, 1962–1965, starring Ronald Reagan.
  • The Raiders, 1963 TV movie, starring Brian Keith and Robert Culp.
  • Petticoat Junction, 1963–1970, starring Bea Benaderet, Edgar Buchanan and Linda Kaye Henning. #3 was portrayed as C&FW Railroad #3 (later renumbered to 8), the Hooterville Cannonball.
  • The Wild Wild West, 1964, starring Robert Conrad and Ross Martin. Pilot episode only. #3 was renumbered to 5. But there had been some re-used scenes of #3 in the show.
  • The Big Valley, 1964–1966, starring Barbara Stanwyck.
  • The Legend of Jesse James, 1965–1966, starring Christopher Jones and Allen Case.
  • Scalplock, 1966 TV movie, starring Dale Robertson and Diana Hyland.
  • The Iron Horse, 1966-1968, starring Dale Robertson & Gary Owens. #3 portrayed as Buffalo Pass, Scalplock, & Defiance Railroad #3.
  • Cimarron Strip, 1967, starring Stuart Whitman and Jill Townsend.
  • Dundee and the Culhane, 1967, starring John Mills.
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E., 1967, starring Robert Vaughn and David McCallum.
  • Ballad of the Iron Horse, 1967 documentary by John H. Secondari.
  • Gunsmoke, 1971, starring James Arness, Amanda Blake and Milburn Stone. In the episode Gold Train: The Bullet parts 1 - 3, #3 is portrayed as Burlington Northern Railroad #8.
  • Bonanza, 1972, starring Lorne Greene and Michael Landon.
  • The Great Man's Whiskers, 1972 TV movie, starring Dean Jones, Ann Sothern and Dennis Weaver, telling the story of why Abraham Lincoln grew his beard.
  • Inventing of America, 1975 documentary by James Burke and Raymond Burr.
  • Little House on the Prairie, 1975–1983, starring Michael Landon, Karen Grassle and Melissa Gilbert.
  • Law of the Land, 1976 TV movie starring James Davis and Don Johnson.
  • A Woman Called Moses, a 1978 biopic miniseries about Harriet Tubman, starring Cicely Tyson.
  • Lacy and the Mississippi Queen, 1978 TV movie, starring Kathleen Lloyd and Debra Feuer.
  • Kate Bliss and the Ticker Tape Kid, 1978 TV movie, starring Suzanne Pleshette.
  • The Night Rider, 1979 TV movie, starring David Selby, Pernell Roberts and Kim Cattrall.
  • The Last Ride of the Dalton Gang, 1979 TV movie, starring Randy Quaid, Cliff Potts and Larry Wilcox
  • Belle Starr, 1980 TV movie, starring Elizabeth Montgomery and Cliff Potts.
  • Father Murphy, 1981, starring Merlin Olsen, Katherine Cannon and Moses Gunn.
  • The A-Team, 1984, starring George Peppard and Mr. T., #3 was in the episode "When are you comin' back Range Rider?"
  • Bonanza: The Next Generation, 1988 TV movie, starring Michael Landon, Jr. and John Ireland.
  • The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., 1993, starring Bruce Campbell.

See also[]