Interview: Linn Moedinger

With over 40 years experience of  working with the Strasburg Railroad, President and Chief Mechanical Engineer Linn W. Moedinger was happy to answer our questions about his involvement with TATMR's filming in Pennsylvania in early September, 1999.
Emailed reply to j. Gratton, October 12, 2009

How did the Strasburg Railroad first become involved to be featured in the film, and how was #475 recruited to represent The Rainbow Sun?
The producer, Phil Fehrle contacted us to ask where he could obtain a train. When asked what he was looking for, he told me that Britt Allcroft was looking at an O. Winston Link book and really liked the "M" Class locomotive. When I informed him that we operated one, and that we had wooden coaches, the deal was pretty well sealed.

What was your role in the movie’s production with respect to railroad operations?
I coordinated (filming) operations with the production company. Additionally, I ran 475 to Harrisburg.

Can you tell us about #475's visit to the Amtrak station in Harrisburg? Did it attract a big crowd?
We did not publicize it so there were no crowds. I don’t believe 475 was ever in Harrisburg. We had been there previously in 1988 or 1989 with other locomotives.

Were there any challenges to obtain coal and water along the way to and from Harrisburg on the main line?
We got water in Harrisburg and had enough coal for the round trip. Amtrak tacked a protect diesel on the rear of the two car train.

We've learned that there was a scene filmed of PT Boomer cutting in front of the Rainbow Sun on a motorcycle. Do you recall its filming?
The scene was done with telephoto lenses to give the impression of a close call, and there were a number of separate takes so that the editors could give the illusion of a near-miss.

I’ve also learned that the two little kids seen in the film waving at the train belonged to one of the footplate crew...
Rick and Ann Musser work at the railroad and they volunteered their kids.

Waving kids
Kids waving to Billy Twofeathers and the Rainbow Sun

Do you have any special memories of the filming?
Mostly, I was impressed with how receptive Phil and Britt were to suggestions regarding train operations and authenticity.

The Strasburg R.R. later hosted their own full-sized operating steam replica of "Thomas". Can you tell us how this came to be?
We built the steam “Thomas”. Britt was phasing out of the business part during the construction. He drew a large crowd and people were very impressed.

From a railwayman’s perspective, what is the appeal of manning the footplate of a steam locomotive vs. that of the cab of a diesel engine?
Some people like raisins and some people don't. It is a matter of preference. You become more a part of the locomotive with steam but they can beat you up. Diesels can be very nice to operate but they can be a bit sterile.

Linn Moedinger on the footplate of #475
Linn Moedinger on the footplate of #475 - Harrisburg Station - Sun. Sept. 12, 1999

We'd like to express our thanks to Linn and to wish him and the Strasburg RR many more years of dry rails.

In the heart of Lancaster County, the Strasburg Rail Road provides a unique railroad experience for the public.  Steam locomotives pull wooden coaches through beautiful farmland on a regular basis, and events like Day Out with Thomas and Steampunk Unlimited introduce the public to important pieces of railroad history.  Linn gives us a tour behind the scenes and the history of this fascinating operation on The Roundhouse Podcast.