The Fillmore and Western Railway is a railroad owned by the Fillmore & Western Railway Company. The company operates on track owned by the Ventura County Transportation Commission. The F&W is known as the “Home of the Hollywood Movie Trains” because the majority of its rolling stock was acquired from three major studios: 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Warner Bros, and MGM. The railroad is frequently used for the filming of television series, motion pictures and commercials and as a locale for private and commercial still photography, Visitors to Fillmore often see filming activity as well as sets and support equipment at the company’s rail yard and along the tracks between Santa Paula and Piru.
The F&W has been used in more than 400 movie, TV and commercial shots. Movies shot on the railroad include Seabiscuit, Get Smart, Rails & Ties, & Race to Witch Mountain. Television series CSI and Criminal Minds have used the railroad for location shooting.
The railroad also operates a year-round tourist train and offers numerous special events, including the Railroad Days Festival, the Pumpkinliner, Christmas Tree Trains, the North Pole Express, and the Day Out with Thomas. The normal schedule involves weekend excursions, dinner trains, murder mystery trains, barbecue trains, and shopping excursions to nearby Santa Paula.
The track is a standard gauge railroad constructed in 1887 by Southern Pacific Railroad through the Santa Clara River Valley in Ventura County, California. This line was originally part of the Southern Pacific’s main line between San Francisco and Los Angeles before a shorter route was built through the Santa Susana Mountains in 1904. State Route 126 follows roughly the same route from Ventura to Santa Clarita. The track was used extensively by Southern Pacific as late as the 1950s to haul citrus from packing houses at the communities along the Santa Clara River. In 1989, the branch line that connects at its west end to the Union Pacific at Montalvo in Ventura was purchased from Southern Pacific by the Ventura County Transportation Commission. The eastern end of the line now terminates in Piru as storm damage in 1979 severed the eastern end of the line to Saugus in Los Angeles County.
Short Line Enterprises was a company that provided railcars for use in movie productions. They came to Fillmore in 1991 to use the rail line and eventually added tourist and dinner trains.