The Making of The Lone Ranger
The train department of “The Lone Ranger” was coordinated first by Jim Clark, who brought years of traditional knowledge to the task, and then by Jason Lamb and assistant train coordinator Luke Johnson, with their contemporary engineering and logistics knowledge. The building of the two 250-ton trains, and the tracks on which they rolled, was a remarkable collaboration between several of the film’s departments and a major engineering feat by any standard.
Originally, the production planned to utilize existing track in a different part of New Mexico. Explains Hayslip, “They had already started construction on Colby down in the southern part of the state, which was chosen because there was already some railroad track there that could be used. But upon scouting it, we found that we would have to upgrade that track in order to travel up to 30 miles per hour on it, as well as build extra track and share it with the mining company that owns it. We immediately shifted gears and started the process of building our own track and trains.”
The towns of Colby and Promontory Summit were built with five miles of track surrounding them in an oval, along with a couple of miles of double track so Verbinski could shoot side-by-side train sequences. The construction of these tracks required 16 weeks of building by Gandy Dancer, an Albuquerque-based railroad and excavating service company under the supervision of Joey Hutchens.
Gandy Dancer hauled in 3,889,425 pounds of the 33-foot rails, bars, tie plates, and ties on 82 flatbed truckloads from Blythe, California. A whopping 60,429 pounds of bolts, washers, and turnouts were sent on two flatbed trucks from Kansas City, and 402,000 pounds of ties and spikes from Stockton, California. Once the materials were collected, the company set to work building something akin to a whole new railway line in the dusty Rio Puerco desert, and another mile of track also had to be laid for the Sleeping Man Mine location in Creede, Colorado, for the additional train work there.