Hooterville Cannonball

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Hooterville Cannonball
Petticoat Junction
Green Acres
The Beverly Hillbillies
character
Information
OccupationTrain
Taxicab
 
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Hooterville Cannonball
Petticoat Junction
Green Acres
The Beverly Hillbillies
character
Information
OccupationTrain
Taxicab

The Hooterville Cannonball was a fictional railroad train featured in Petticoat Junction, an American situation comedy that was produced by Filmways, Inc., and originally aired on the CBS network from 1963 to 1970. The show was created by the same production team responsible for The Beverly Hillbillies and it shared some characters and its locale, the fictional town of Hooterville, with Green Acres, and shared the theme common to all. The shows featured rural characters in humorous and sometimes absurd situations.

Petticoat Junction[edit]

The most unusual "character" in the Petticoat Junction cast was the Hooterville Cannonball, an abbreviated train with a steam locomotive and single combination baggage and passenger car, operated more like a taxi service by its engineer and conductor, Charley Pratt (Smiley Burnette) and Floyd Smoot (Rufe Davis) on a long forgotten spur between Hooterville and Pixley that no longer connected to the railway's main line after the collpase of a bridge that was never reparied.. It was not uncommon for the men of the Cannonball to make an unscheduled stop in order to go fishing or pick fruit for Kate Bradley's menu at the Shady Rest Hotel. Occasionally, Betty Jo Bradley could be found with her hand on the Cannonball's throttle, as driving the train home from trips into town was one of her favorite pastimes.

J. Homer Bedloe, played by actor Charles Lane, was vice president of the C.&F.W. Railroad. Bedloe was a mean-spirited executive who visited the Shady Rest Hotel periodically attempting to find justification for ending the train service of the Hooterville Cannonball (and never succeeding).

In Episode 31 of Season 1, Charley Abandons The Canonball, engineer Pratt picks up his guitar and sings an ode to the train. The lyrics, sung to roughly to the tune of the famous song "Wabash Cannonball", are as follows:

There's a train that runs through this wide valley
That is loved by one and all
It's the train that starts way up in Pixley
Called the Hooterville Canonball
Cause she made her run through the dead of winter
Through the summer, spring, and fall
Neither cold nor heat nor flood can stop her
She's the Hooterville canonball

There were actually two Hooterville Cannonball trains used for filming. The working model was the Sierra No. 3 locomotive and was used to film all the "long shots" including the show's opening and closing credits. This locomotive had a complete restoration at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in California, which was finished in 2010. A full-scale mock-up of the actual train built for use in Hollywood in the 1950s was used on the studio sound stage.

Mock - Up for Studio Use[edit]

The history of the mock-up train is believed to be as follows: Originally it was built for a 1950 Dan Dailey, Walter Brennan, Rory Calhoun and a (almost unknown) Marilyn Monroe 20th Century Fox movie production called "A Ticket to Tomahawk" as a double for an engine called the Emma Sweeny, for use in scenes where it is pulled by a team of mules. The original 1950 cost of the elaborate studio mock-up was $40,000. Later in the 1950s, Fox sold the wooden/metal/fiberglass engine to Harvey Dick, who wanted it to promote his Barbary Coast bar in his 1890s gas light style hotel in Portland, Oregon, called the Hoyt Hotel. In the 1960s, the train went on to be used in the Petticoat Junction TV series, from 1963-1970 - the Hoyt Hotel is given credit in the end titles of each episode. It was also used in the Wild Wild West TV show for scenes of the engine and tender.

After the TV studios were done using the engine, the train movie prop became the property of Sacramento restauranteur/collector Sam Gordon. Gordon displayed it in the parking lot of his Sam's Stage Coach Inn (Sam's Town) along Hwy 50 in Cameron Park, California, about 30 miles to the east of Sacramento. Later the mock up fell into disrepair. In 1979 it was purchased by John Queirolo and Rick Stevenson. Later they gave the care and custody of the train to Amador County Museum, and it was then restored. The train ended up in its present location at the Amador County Museum in Jackson, California. In August, 2011, the locomotive mock up was acquired from the Amador County museum by Durango Railroad Historical Society in Durango, Colorado, and was shipped there in November 2011. As of December 2012 it is undergoing restoration to its original state as the Emma Sweeny.[1]

Popular culture[edit]

In 1966 Tyco Toys manufactured a tie-in electric train set.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Durango Railroad Historical Society. "Emma Sweeny". Retrieved December 24, 2012. 

External links[edit]