The Movie Star poses for her close-up. Shining in the warm, California sun, Sierra #3 tip-toes off the Jamestown turntable and heads for her stall in the fabled roundhouse that has been home to the Sierra locomotives since the line's inception, back in 1897. It is sometimes a head-scratcher as to how this little 50-ton, 10-wheeler has become the most commercially exploited steam engine of all time. After all, she never hauled a famous train, nor did she set any sort of speed records. She was a work-a-day engine for over 40 years and survived 3 pretty serious wrecks before anyone really even noticed her. More than anything, it was likely the scenic nature of her home railroad and its proximity to the home of the movie and TV industries that gave her the breaks that allowed her to become famous. Come to think of it, most movie stars get their breaks because they are in the right place at the right time.
Although she's worn many "costumes" over the years, Sierra #3 appears today as she did back in 1929, during the filming of her first major production, The Virginian. She sports a straight, shotgun stack, the Southern Pacific metal cab that she received after one of her bad wrecks destroyed her original wooden cab, and an electric headlight instead of the big oil lamp she carried in her early days. She is painted with gloss black Dupont Imron, with contrasting silver trim. She may have been born as a work-a-day locomotive, but today, she looks every bit the special engine she is.