One of my favorite television shows is Columbo. Most would say it is a detective show. And, yes, Lieutenant Columbo, played so amazingly well by the late Peter Falk, is indeed a detective with the Los Angeles Police Department. But I never saw Columbo as a detective show, but more of a psychological chase kinda show.
It wasn’t a who-done-it since the murderer was revealed right away. The viewer even sees the murder. Actually the show’s producers were very proud of the lack of violence on the show, so the murder was always shown off camera, but you saw exactly how it was done. The tools, weapons, etc. So, because of this the show really was a “how-does-he-catch-’em” show.
I recently watched the episode “Identity Crisis” (Season 5, 1975) and what do you know, LA’s Travel Town made a not-so-brief appearance. Columbo is on the trail of a murderer, who just happens to be a CIA agent. The victim is also CIA.
During his investigation, while grabbing lunch (a hot dog) at Travel Town, Columbo is approached by more CIA and asked to follow them… right to the steps of Sharp & Fellows 2-6-2 #7!
Though not really important to us, to wrap up this part of Columbo’s story, the Lieutenant climbs up into the cab and meets with the Director of the CIA. The Director tells Columbo to keep his nose away from his agents. Of course, Columbo fawns over the Director making him think that Columbo has been cowed. Then the good Lieutenant proceeds to catch the murderer.
Nice cab shot! That’s actor David White (best known for playing Darrin Stephens’ boss Larry Tate on the Bewitched). But back to the good stuff. 🙂 The two of them have their private Travel Town talk in the cab of an interesting locomotive. This is a 1902 ALCO product built for the Minnesota Land and Construction Company. It was built as a 2-6-0.
It was sold by the Minnesota Land and Construction Company in 1909 to Sharp and Fellows, Inc. and rebuilt as a 2-6-2 and numbered as their #7. Sharp & Fellows is still in business, headquartered in nearby Gardena, California. They were then and are now a railroad design and construction firm.
Sharp & Fellows donated the oil burner to Travel Town in 1954. Clearly from the Columbo show it was on display – and the public allowed to climb all over it, including inside the cab, in 1975. It looks well taken care of and painted and number kept bright and visible.
It’s still preserved by Train Town, thank goodness, and available for photos. But no one is swarming the locomotive these days – which is likely very good for preservation. However, and I do think this is too bad, the paint and number, and the cosmetic well being of the engine, has suffered over the years.
This is Sharp & Fellows #7 as seen today at Travel Town. Protected, preserved, but is it respected? This is an engine that worked to build the Santa Fe Railway through Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona and California. It also served in World War 1 at Camp Kearney in San Diego and then served the nation again in World War 2 at several ordinance plants. And, of course, it served the “CIA” and Lieutenant Columbo in “Identity Crisis” in 1975! 🙂