A few years ago, A Song of Ice and Fire author and Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin joined forces with a couple of other prominent citizens in the city of Santa Fe, New Mexico and bought the Santa Fe Southern Railway, an 18-mile stretch of rail running from Santa Fe to Lamy, which is pretty much just an empty piece of land with a train station on it. Martin and his co-owners christened this project the Sky Railway. They planned to rent it out for pleasure excursions, stargazing events, murder mystery experiences, and maybe even so Hollywood types could film movies on it.
Well, that last one definitely came to pass. According to the new book Unleashing Oppenheimer: Inside Christopher Nolan’s Explosive Atomic-Age Thriller by Jada Yuan, Christopher Nolan used the train to film scenes for his making-of-the-atomic bomb movie Oppenheimer.
Nolan is nothing if not a stickler for detail. The atomic bomb was built in New Mexico, so off to New Mexico he went. And it just so happens there was a train to rent there! There is a small issue in that the cars on this particular train have dragons and direwolves painted on the walls, the better to match Martin’s brand, but it was a simple matter to dress them up a bit so they looked like 1940s period cars.
Christopher Nolan rented out cars on George R.R. Martin’s railroad for Oppenheimer
According to Slashfilm, Nolan and company would hop aboard one of these dragon cars, ride for 40 minutes from Sante Fe to Lamy, and then head back the other way, filming until they got what they needed. For the scenes where Martin’s cars wouldn’t do, they rented out a couple of old Pullman cars.
Okay, now I’m going to blow your mind. I mentioned that Martin owns Sky Railway with two other people. Their names are Bill Banowsky, the owner of the Violet Crown Cinema; and…Catherine Oppenheimer, the co-founder of the New Mexico School for the Arts.
Coincidence or conspiracy? I don’t know, nor do I think it matters. We can all agree that trains are fun and move on. Choo choo!