Traction Engine Movie

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Ste 803, 777 Cardero St., Vancouver 5, B. C, Canada

How many readers of the Iron-Men Album, or their engine-friend enthusiasts would like to see a movie in a theatre in which an old steam traction engine played a prominent role?

It would seem to me that this would rate as being a very stupid question and that the response would be almost unanimous 'We all would.' Since such an opportunity does not occur frequently this article will be notice to you that in the near future a new movie by Warner Bros. Studio will be going to the theatres and I believe the title of this film has finally been decided on and will be John McCabe.

Here on the Pacific Northwest coast the film first got considerable publicity under the title The Presbyterian Church and similar names, then for various reasons and I believe for the better, since the film does not indicate too much respect for the church, John McCabe is presently its title.

The story behind the film is a Western mining village at about the turn of the century, wherein all activities are under the most primitive and difficult conditions and being remote from all supply the camp thereby lacks most all progress. However it was not too remote to be free of the usual gamblers, chief of whom was John McCabe. His business was seriously handicapped due to lack of suitable quarters and when he teamed up with the lady of fortune and his choice there at the time, they decided to build premises which would adapt to their underworld.

Lumber was the most necessary commodity but the only manner in which it could be obtained would be to bring in a portable sawmill. Well, now the suspense is broken and you can prepare to view the film when it comes to your neighborhood. A Case 80 hp. engine no. 26,616 was brought in from Alberta by the owner of a local sawmill and these are first shown on the film while entering the village on the mountain winding trail and passing the church and down thru main street to the sawmill site. The sawmill was erected there and a nice roof built over it and considerable logs were sawed into lumber from time to time, partly to get things in proper adjustment and partly for demonstrations, or maybe just to keep warm.

The portion of the film which was to concentrate on the sawing of lumber may, or may not, turn out something disappointing for various reasons beyond our control or suggestions. Of course the camera crew had never seen such as this before and hence did not know what would appeal to crafts such as ours, or what would not. The picture they were looking at was altogether different from what we were seeing, and if this portion of the film is contained it may just show a few feet in which the steam chest cover packing blew out. If so, you may view lots of steam during that interval and not enjoy the escape noise.

The film was taken in Cypress Park, West Vancouver, about 1000 feet above highway 99 three miles east of Horseshoe Bay. They started filming about the middle of October and finished up on Jan. 19th. Starting in nice sunshine, ending up in either constant rain or snow, and due to the latter we were becoming almost snowbound toward the completion of the film. During one storm in early January we received forty-two inches of snow, heavy wet stuff. A little later we had eight inches of the same in a thirty-five minute interval. One noon hour while I was at dinner and on returning to the engine, promptly after eating, it looked as if it had been abandoned for some time. That sort of scene quickly brings to memory the good old Arizona country and the thought comes to mind that somebody made a poor choice this time .... then all we need is a couple hours sunshine.

It was my good fortune that Warner Bros, called me early in October when they had encountered trouble with their movie engine, the Case 80 already referred to, asking me if 1 could come and give them some assistance. Then when 1 took her up the mountain trail three times, and it was plenty grim, they asked me to stay with them. Of course such an opportunity does not happen often and even with being exposed to all weather, and bad it was, it was a most enjoyable experience. My one wish is that those of you who see the picture, enjoy it also and that you could have seen the whole thing taking place and condensed into the film-duration-interval.

The film does not show the first trail chosen but shows us entering the village on another, less hazardous route. There were about two hundred persons on the set. We were served lovely dinners each day in camp trailers. Camp was sentried around the clock.