Emma Sweeny #1, a replica 4-6-0 was built for the 1950 movie, A Ticket to Tomahawk, and is now on display in Durango, CO

Emma Sweeny #1, Santa Rita Park, Durango, CO

In 1949, Twentieth Century Fox produced the movie, A Ticket to Tomahawk, starring Dan Dailey, Walter Brennan, Rory Calhoun and Marilyn Monroe. Filming took place in Durango and the San Juan Mountains over about six weeks from August to September 1949.

Set in 1876, the plot revolved around the fictional
construction of the Tomahawk & Western Railroad from Epitaph to Tomahawk. Rio Grande Southern #20, a Ten Wheeler type (4-6-0) narrow gauge (36”) locomotive built at the Schenectady Locomotive Works in 1899 for the Florence & Cripple Creek Railroad, played the part of Tomahawk & Western #1, “Emma Sweeny”. It was equipped with a false funnel stack, long wooden pilot, link and pin coupler, oil or kerosene headlight box over the electric light with a set of six-point antlers on top, and adorned with a colourful paint scheme, including three-masted sailing ships on both sides of the tender.

In order to save the railroad franchise, the “Emma Sweeny” has to be pulled on forty miles of dirt road over the Rocky Mountains using a team of mules. A replica “Emma Sweeny” was built for these scenes at a cost of $40,000.


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Emma Sweeny #1, DurangoEmma Sweeny #1, DurangoEmma Sweeny #1, Durango

F&CC #20 had an engine wheelbase of 18' 2" and driver wheelbase of 9' 9" and weighed 85,000 lbs, 69,000 lbs on its 42" drivers. With Stephenson
valve gear and 16" x 20" cylinders, it had a 14.08
sq ft grate, 88.68 sq ft firebox and total heating surface of 1,124 sq ft. Operating at a boiler pressure of 180 psi, it delivered 18,651 lbs tractive effort.

With fiberglass, and metal parts, the replica weighs about 18,000 lbs. Because the model had to be pulled, it has a steel frame, steel pipe axles and flangeless iron rims on wooden wheels.

Emma Sweeny #1, Durango
Emma Sweeny #1, DurangoEmma Sweeny #1, Durango
Emma Sweeny #1, DurangoEmma Sweeny #1, DurangoEmma Sweeny #1, Durango

The model was used for shots off the tracks, pulled by mules along Blair Street in Silverton, on the airfield on Reservoir Hill (now Fort Lewis College) in Durango, and on the single lane gravel road at the top of Molas Pass. Then the model was taken back to the studio and used in camp scenes in October.

Later, Fox sold the replica to Harvey Dick, who placed it in the lobby of his Hoyt Hotel in Portland, OR. Dick loaned the replica to the producers of “Petticoat Junction” to substitute for the “Hooterville Cannonball” in studio scenes.

In exchange for use on the television series, a prominent screen credit appeared at the end of each episode: “Train furnished by Barbary Coast, Hoyt Hotel, Portland, Oregon”. It was also used in the television series The Wild Wild West for scenes of the engine and tender.

In the 1970s, the replica was bought by Sam Gordon who displayed it in the parking lot of his Sam's Stage Coach Inn in Cameron Park, CA. In 1979, it was bought by John Queirolo and Rick Stevenson who gave it to the Amador County Museum in Jackson, CA.

Emma Sweeny #1, Durango
Emma Sweeny #1, DurangoEmma Sweeny #1, Durango
Emma Sweeny #1, Durango

In 2011, the museum sold the replica to the Durango Railroad Historical Society in Durango, CO. The society have restored
it to its original state
as the “Emma

It is on display in Santa Rita Park on S Camino Real.

Emma Sweeny #1, DurangoEmma Sweeny #1, DurangoEmma Sweeny #1, DurangoEmma Sweeny #1, DurangoEmma Sweeny #1, DurangoEmma Sweeny #1, DurangoEmma Sweeny #1, DurangoEmma Sweeny #1, DurangoEmma Sweeny #1, DurangoEmma Sweeny #1, Durango
A Ticket to TomahawkA Ticket to Tomahawk

Top image, Rio Grande Southern #20
decked out as Tomahawk & Western #1, "Emma Sweeny" on its way to Epitaph. Lower image, the replica starts its journey to Tomahawk.

Along with other movies filmed on the line,
A Ticket to Tomahawk kicked off a surge of tourist interest in the area, and the
increased ridership saved the Silverton Branch of the D&RGW, now the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, from abandonment.