Fillmore & Western Railway Company (Short Line Enterprises) was founded in 1967. Between 1967 & 1972, the company bought, sold and traded locomotives, passenger cars and freight cars (mostly of 19th century origin). The majority of the equipment was acquired from the property departments of 3 major movie studios: MGM, Paramount & 20th Century Fox. This activity, combined with Short Line's experience in buying, selling and evaluating railroad equipment led to the company's emergence as one of the foremost appraisers in America of rolling stock and other railroad related items. It also focused the company on its long-term path of providing movie trains for the film industry.
By 1976, Short Line's collection of rolling stock was anything but short. The company moved lock, stock and locomotive, to the Sierra Railroad in Jamestown, California, which provided a better location for film work. It was also close to Sacramento, where principals of Short Line had been engaged by the Califomia Department of Parks and Recreation to supervise restoration of the extensive and historic collection of the California State Railroad Museum.
Short Line was also retained as the prime contractor by the Nevada State Museum on restoration projects in Carson City. This series of projects ran from 1979 to 1988, and resulted in the restoration of three derelict steam locomotives and seven 19th Century passenger & freight cars.
During this time (1985), Short Line moved its movie operations to Newhall Ranch, placing it within the Hollywood production zone. Between 1985 and 1990, Short Line was used in over seventy feature films, television series and commercials. No Hollywood railroad location had ever amassed that number of credits in such a brief period of time. The track lease was cancelled in 1990 when the Newhall Land and Farming Company decided to develop the surrounding area in a way that was incompatible with movie operations.
A search began for a new home of Hollywood's "Movie Trains". All potential sites in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura Counties were explored. The only line that met the specific needs of the film industry was Southern Pacific's Santa Paula Branch in rural Ventura County. The pastoral surroundings of the area also bode suitable for development of a passenger excursion business. The City of Fillmore showed great enthusiasm for the operation of a vintage train in conjunction with the revival of its 1920-era Central Business District. The objective, to create a major visitor destination that features the movie trains, passenger excursions and dinner trains as the master theme for the community redevelopment.
The "Movie Trains" found a home and Fillmore became "Train Town". In 1996, Short Line Enterprises became the film division of the Fillmore & Western Railway Company. Operations expanded from movie work and limited passenger trips to regularly scheduled daytime passenger excursions, Saturday and Sunday lunch/dinner trains, holiday train & other specialty trains. The antique trains of Fillmore & Western rolled into the 21st century. They remain highly involved in the magic of movie making, while the company's passenger excursions, dinner trains, private party and corporate event trains provide the means of travel to a bygone era....
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