The Great Train Robbery

The steps!

I have heard— and I have no citation for this, other than the hearsay of the South Mountain Reservation’s historian— and who knows, maybe I misheard him— but I have heard that these here steps, in the South Mountain Reservation, connecting Brookside Drive to the Thistle Hill Ford, were featured in The Great Train Robbery!

Screenshot from the Great Train Robbery

(And as of August 2012, you can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bc7wWOmEGGY#t=06m25s)

The Great Train Robbery, made in 1903, was the first narrative film in history. It was directed and shot by Edwin S. Porter, a former Thomas Edison cameraman, in various locations around New Jersey.

Including this area! The South Mountain Reservation (or “Essex Park,” I think) was just getting started at the time, so this may have just been “the woods.”

Thistle Hill Ford, from a South Mountain Reservation map

The current stairs may not be the same ones featured in The Great Train Robbery— the actors don’t look like they’re going down very many steps— but that sure looks like Thistle Hill Ford, which is still a jump-able section of the river today.

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2 Comments to “The Great Train Robbery”

  1. Wow, this is the New Jersey edition of that great series on Scouting New York—only with even less tangible evidence than that site’s profile on the extant built heritage from Taxi Driver. I love it!

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