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WILD WILD WEST

The Wanderer

The story of "Wild Wild West" unfolds in several of the newly formed United States, including West Virginia, Virginia, Washington, D.C., New Orleans and a host of Western points of interest. In order for Jim West and Artemus Gordon to traverse this vast expanse of America, they rely on a specially designed, lavishly appointed personal train known as The Wanderer.

"West and Gordon really have no home in the movie, so The Wanderer becomes their home and headquarters for this mission," says Welch. "It's also a wonderful common thread that weaves throughout the movie. It's like you're travelling with them on this adventure."

Welch and his design team, including art director TOM DUFFIELD and set decorator Cheryl Carasik, exhaustively researched private railroad cars of the era. "I wanted The Wanderer to feel like an exclusive men's club," says Welch, "with a sort of very opulent, luxurious, rich quality." An elegant green is the predominant color used in the train and throughout the film because it happens to be a favorite of both Sonnenfeld's and Welch's.

"We used all materials of the day -- real marble, beveled glass, real brass and solid Honduran mahogany," adds Tom Duffield. Set decorator Cheryl Carasik contributed such details as English hand-woven rugs, custom-dyed and upholstered furnishings and custom draperies bordered with hundreds of hand-tied fringes.

"Our heroes spend a lot of time on The Wanderer," says Sonnenfeld. "If 'Wild Wild West' were taking place today, they'd be in their Gulfstream V. But since it's 1869, they're on a train -- yet this train is the most high-tech train ever. It's kind of like a stunt train."

Indeed, The Wanderer functions as a state-of-the-art secret weapon for West and Gordon. Equipped with such trick options as a flipping pool table, trap doors, lamps that camouflage Gatling guns, sliding mirrors that house a secret arsenal and a swinging mallet for unwelcome guests, the train does its job in protecting the intrepid duo.

The Wanderer set took approximately 2 months to construct on Stage 30, an exceptionally long soundstage at the Warner Bros. Burbank Ranch facility. When completed, the train consisted of three cars pulled by an actual Civil War steam locomotive, the Baltimore & Ohio 4-4-0 William Mason American.

The locomotive, which had been dormant for more than 30 years, had been on display at the B&O Museum in Baltimore and required a major overhaul to make it serviceable. The American was moved from its home in Baltimore to Pennsylvania's Strasburg Railroad Shop, where it went through a complex and detailed overhaul.

"It's a very elegant and graceful locomotive and a real example of the American West," Jon Peters notes. "It helped build the Trans-Continental Railway, which opened the West. That's why it came to be called the American."

Filming of the interior scenes in The Wanderer took place over a period of four weeks. Once filming was completed, the sets were stripped to a shell and placed on oversized flatbed trucks to be shipped to various locations, including Santa Fe, NM, to shoot with the first unit. Then they went on to Idaho for filming with the second unit. The Wanderer cars were placed on specially prepared flatbed rail cars to function as real trains while on location.

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