Thunder In the Canyons

Explore 24-hours on a real steam railroad!

Rare action from the early years of the Grand Canyon Ry when it was an all-steam operation. Captured from the inside with the complete co-operation of railroad crews.


Thunder in the Canyons

At the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the steam locomotive was the world’s “high-tech”. No one was unaffected. And our lives were changed forever.

The steam engine is in our collective “DNA of consciousness and culture.” Every family in America once had brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, parents, or children who worked for the steam railroads. The everyday lives of so many generations were defined by service to this technology.

But, the daily chores that once dominated our recent ancestors’ lives have vanished.

Did you wonder if you could get even a small glimpse into their day-to-day work lives …the lives of so many of our great grand parents? What would you see?

Some folks worked on equipment. Others worked the depots and stations across America.

Thunder in the Canyons will take you there.

For a brief moment the new Grand Canyon Railway was like no where else in North America. A place where steam locomotives traveled 128-miles every day delivering passengers to one of the world’s greatest natural wonders.

Thunder in the Canyons is more than “a day in the life” of a steam locomotive. It is an exploration of a world lost in time…and the people who some how managed to live in that lost world.

Many people in your family may have once worked for a railroad and lived a life such as the people you’ll meet.


The Living Past

Meet the night hostlers. They prepared the mighty steam locomotives for their daily 128-mile trip to the Grand Canyon and back. (This is no stroll-in-the-park for a steam locomotive. This is serious railroading!)

A night hostler reflects on doing a job from the 19th century while outside the locomotive builds up steam for the day.

These fascinating activities are now almost forgotten. The coverage here is so engrossing you can almost feel the steam and smell the grease.

You’ll meet the engineer…a position that quickly took on mythological proportions.

You’ll meet the fireman…once one of the most important jobs on the railroad.

While the engineer received all the glory, it was the fireman who kept the train rolling…running a fine line between wasting company resources or destroying the locomotive in a very dramatic way. Running a steam locomotive was the ultimate TEAM effort…and your life depended on doing it right.

We’ll take an exciting ride in the cab of the Grand Canyon Railway‘s big Mikado-type steam engine #4960 as she plunges 1000 feet down into the high desert only to climb back up another 1100 feet to get to the forested resorts at the “South Rim” of the Canyon.

Explore historic locations along the line to learn more of the picturesque history of the Canyonlands…and the lasting impact of the railway.

You’ll see spectacular photo runbys of the trains. You’ll even learn about the fateful bridge washout in the early days of the Santa Fe Railway.

Do you think steam technology was dead?

Not a chance. Hear the inside story from the railway’s CMO (chief mechanical officer Sam Lanter) on 21st century developments that were applied to the old steamers. Can they really be made more efficient than a diesel locomotive?

A fun bonus:

Visit behind the scenes with the railway’s Cataract Creek Gang, where real cowboys take devilish delight in pretending to be their Hollywood counterparts…cowboys planning to hold up the train…all to total amusement of the passengers.

Cataract Creek Gang stages a train robbery. A “robber” tries to talk his way out of it to the Marshall. (scenes from the film.)

Santa Fe steam engine #3751 makes a surprise appearance double-heading with 4960.
Steam engine #18 also appears double-heading with #4960.

So there you have it. A North American railroad adventure unlike any other. (See customer feedback and published reviews below.)They’re both too good to miss…. both feature-length, both entirely original, and each tells their own unique story of historic steam railroading in the Southwest.

And both films are now available on DVD.
This is such an unusual production, does it even surprise you that it took over 15-years to produce it for you? This is a really BIG show that you are guaranteed to thoroughly enjoy.

Now here is a video you’ll want to see because it is so well produced you will be entertained throughout the film. The most revealing aspect of the video is the content and editing. What could have been a fairly dull subject has been made into exciting, living history. The viewer is treated to a wide range of action shots, interviews, insights, and original orchestral music. This adds up to a different kind of railroad video that informs and entertains at the same time. A great video that is well worth the price.

The Heimberger Press

The Grand Canyon Railway is one of the greatest historic rail operations in the country. Thunder Under Heaven (Vol 1&2) tells the story with a lively mix of contemporary video, historic black-and-white stills, interviews, maps, and original music. For a program about the Grand Canyon Railway, look no further than the Thunder From the Wild West and Thunder in the Canyons…(the Thunder Under Heaven series).

TRAINS Magazine

Classic steam engines and shop operations make this a video that will fascinate and intrigue everyone, including that die-hard railfan. Not to be missed

Route 66 Magazine

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