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Q: The steam locomotives used in "Petticoat Junction," "The Wild Wild West," and "The Iron Horse" -- were they the same engine or different ones? Where are they now?

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Author: 
Adam Thomlison / TV Media

The Hooterville Cannonball, shown chugging slowly along its way to town in the the '60s sitcom classic "Petticoat Junction," was the very same train seen in "The Wild Wild West," but apparently just in the pilot.

The engine, called Sierra Railroad No. 3, may have been the same one seen in "The Iron Horse," but no one's really sure at this point. All of the "Iron Horse's" train footage was shot on Sierra Railway property, but No. 3 wasn't the only engine they had.

However, the No. 3 is clearly its star. The Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown, Calif., which currently houses the No. 3, says that the engine has appeared in more than 100 productions. Among the other titles are "Gunsmoke," "Little House on the Prairie," "Lassie" and "Rawhide," and that latter series made its hitherto unknown young star into a lifelong fan of the No. 3.

"The Sierra No. 3 is like a treasured old friend," the museum quotes Clint Eastwood as saying. "Even in the business of 'make believe,' you can't beat the real thing."

It's fitting, then, that when Eastwood returned to the western genre that made him a star after a years-long exile, he returned to the No. 3 as well -- the train appeared in his Oscar-winning 1992 film "Unforgiven," 33 years after he first rode it in "Rawhide."

The Sierra No. 3 was used extensively for the pilot for the quirky late-'60s action comedy "The Wild Wild West," and stock footage of it appeared periodically in later episodes, but the train used for the bulk of the regular-season episodes was reportedly called the Inyo, a train built in 1875 by Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia.

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