It is very rare that inanimate objects, no matter how important the role, get credited. Humans often get all the credit, and sometimes, our animal friends. Inanimate objects however, are another story. Here's a brief history of the famous 'Wild Wild West' locomotive train.
At the start of every episode, this train could be seen and heard. It was a celebrity in itself, worthy of being talked about. That was the 'Hooterville Cannonball'. It was an antique steam locomotive that played the part of the 'Cannonball'. The Sierra No. 3, built in 1891, is the "most photographed locomotive in the world" - and for good reason!
This iconic workhorse started its career appearing on silent films, before marching on towards big screen films like 'The Virginian' starring Gary Cooper, speeding through dozens of Westerns, and appearing on modern favorites like 'Back to the Future III' and 'Unforgiven'. Sierra No. 3 also appeared on a lot of television shows such as 'The Lone Ranger', 'Doctor Quinn', and 'Medicine Woman'.
In 1965, the same train was used in the very first episode of 'The Wild Wild West', "Night of the Inferno". Secret Service agent Jim West traveled in his own private rail car, a mobile base that was fit for the tastes of James Bond or Bruce Wayne. There was only one problem about this: the beauty was built in 1891, about a decade or two after the adventures of Jim West.
Once the series went into production however, a new train was used. It was actually an older train named 'Inyo', constructed in 1875 in Philadelphia. The 'Inyo' spent its early professional life in Virginia, and Truckee Railroad in Nevada.
The train, dubbed 'The Wanderer', is spotted in most episodes. It was numbered on the front of its engine with the number 22.
Producers of the famout 'The Wild Wild West' changed this number to "8" so that even though shots were flipped, the number would not be looking weird. However, not every production was so sharp.
The swanky interior of the train was actually a set, put up on Stage 6 of the CBS Studio Center. Green velvet curtains with golden tassels hung at the sides, with ornate woodwork under. In season two, it went under a makeover and went even lusher. Green glass sconces illuminated the cream walls. It was indeed distinctive interior. This is why TV fans easily spotted the train on other TV shows.
It was also used to film shows such as 'The Big Valley' at least twice in 1966, 'Dodge City' in 1967, and 'The King Lives?' in 1968.
The set stayed useful even after 'The Wild Wild West' wrapped up production in 1969. It turned up in 'Barbary Coast', which is a short-lived William Shatner adventure series in 1975 which was quite similar to the concept of 'The Wild Wild West'.
In 1978, the train went into semi-retirement, heading up to the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City. After a restoration in the 1980's. the old train came out on special occasions: not as a spycraft, however.