An unbelievable commotion was in progress beside the railroad house where I lived in Bonner. It was in the late summer of 1954 when I ran outside the back door to see what the blazes was going on! To my total amazement I saw Old #7 sitting less than 20 feet away! #7 was a magnificent old Willamette shay type, steam powered, gear driven coal fired logging locomotive.
Sitting in the engineer's seat was Dan Ryan with a huge smile on his face as he waited for the switch to be thrown near the east highway crossing, allowing him to re enter the East Log Yard of the Bonner Mill. His trusty fireman (Highholt) was maintaining the steam pressure at an operating level on this well worn and leaky old work horse. For years, both men worked as a team as they hauled an unbelievable amount of logs to the various Milwaukee Railroad landings in the Blackfoot Valley.
Coming out of retirement, they would work together one last and glorious time to immortalize this grand old locomotive. My trusty old dog "Peanut" was not intimidated, or impressed by this odd shaped old engine and he expressed his displeasure by growling ferociously and bristling every hair on his short legged body. Chill Wills, a movie actor, together with Old Peanut and I, became good friends as he attempted to buy my four legged best friend.
For the better part of a week, a Hollywood film crew of about 80 technicians and actors, unfolded the magic of Hollywood and used the silver movie screen to bring Great Falls author Dan Cushman's novel to life. By February of 1955, I personally viewed the Premier of Timberjack in the Fox Theater in Missoula. The interior decor and lighting system as well as the incredible sound system of the old Fox Theater was a perfect complement to Bonner's Greatest Adventure Film.
I continued my research for the "Tamarack", the Company newsletter, about old #7 during this epic time period, as well as pointing out how everything has been preserved to this day. We now have a perfect opportunity to purchase the original Timberjack Movie Posters, used to advertise this Hollywood episode and keep them them in the Bonner Milltown History Center and Museum for future generations to enjoy.