Where was Steamboat Bill, Jr. filmed?
Boat Style, Federal Building
About Steamboat Bill, Jr.
The Cameraman was the last film Buster Keaton made in his trademark style before moving to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. United Artists proudly presented the ultimate work of Keaton's independent production team and their talented set of gag writers—Steamboat Bill, Jr. Though it was not a box-office success, the film is now considered a classic of silent comedy.
One of the most beloved stunts of comedy in days past, Keaton's feat in Steamboat Bill, Jr. became an instant classic.
Directed by Charles Reisner and with a story written by Carl Harbaugh, the movie also featured Ernest Torrence, Tom Lewis and Marion Byron. The title comes from a popular 1911 version of the 1910 song "Steamboat Bill" sung by Arthur Collins. In 2016, the film was recognized for its significance and added to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
Charles Reisner, a collaborator of Charlie Chaplin, came up with the original concept for Steamboat Bill, Jr. and served as its director, while Keaton provided uncredited co-direction. The pair traveled to Sacramento and spent an estimated $125,000 on sets for the film, including replicas of a pier and a cyclone scene which cost one-third of the entire budget. An expert at his own stunts, Keaton was suspended on a cable from a crane to give the illusion of flying during the cyclone scene.
Steamboat Bill, Jr. Locations
The production of Steamboat Bill, Jr. took advantage of the beautiful areas in and around Sacramento, California. The majority of the scenes were shot on or around the Sacramento River, which is a wide tributary flowing into the San Francisco Bay. This scenic backdrop offers a variety of different views and landmarks that make up the backdrop for this classic film.
Sacramento is located at the junction of two rivers—the Sacramento River and the American River—and is known for its lush green vegetation along with its historical buildings and monuments.
As one travels down the river from Sacramento to San Francisco Bay you will see an array of sights including picturesque waterfronts, old missions, historical markers and quaint towns. All of these natural wonders provide a perfect setting for Steamboat Bill, Jr., allowing viewers to explore this unique area without ever leaving their homes!
The scenery featured in Steamboat Bill, Jr. further enhances this region's beauty by showcasing some of its most famous local attractions such as Old Town Sacramento, Sutter's Fort State Historic Park, Folsom Lake State Recreation Area and Discovery Park. All of these places offer visitors a chance to experience first-hand what it was like during the era that Steamboat Bill was produced in—making it a great place to explore.
Overall, taking a trip to see the locations where Steamboat Bill, Jr was filmed would certainly be worthwhile due to its beautiful scenery and rich history. From taking time out to enjoy recreational activities in the Folsom Lake State Recreation area or learning more about California’s state history through visiting Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park—there are plenty of opportunities available for all types of travelers looking for an immersive experience in this picturesque part of Northern California.
New steamer scene in Steamboat Bill, Jr.
Sacramento River, California, USA
John James King, the proud owner of a new steamer called The King, puts his competition to shame. With ownership of both the local bank and the town hotel, his dominance is undisputed—until Bill's son arrives on the 10 AM train from Boston. At a large launch party commemorating The King's arrival, Bill is publicly ridiculed by J.J., not having had any contact with his son in many years.
Flowing westward from the snowy peaks of Mt. Shasta, the Sacramento River winds through northern California and makes its way toward the Pacific Ocean. This 580-mile river has provided nourishment to local wildlife and sustenance to communities in the area since long before European settlers arrived. It is a major source of irrigation water for Central Valley farms and serves as a haven for kayakers, canoeists, and fishermen alike. Forming part of California's impressive Delta system, it supplies fresh water to three-quarters of all Californians and provides a habitat for many species of fish, birds, amphibians, mammals, and reptiles.
Located in Northern California, the Sacramento River is easy to find via the main highways that run along its length. If you are coming from the north, you can take Interstate 5 and head south until you reach Red Bluff. From there, you can drive downstream along Highway 36. Once at Red Bluff, there are multiple routes to take directly beside the river itself ranging from small rural roads in some areas to county highways in others. Whichever route you choose to take no matter how remote the path may be, it all leads to the picturesque scenery of the majestic and peaceful Sacramento River.
Train station scene in Steamboat Bill, Jr.
111 I St, Sacramento, CA 95814, United States
Bill stands at the station, looking for his son—a man of similar size and strength—to get off the train. To no avail, none of the disembarking passengers are wearing a white carnation as promised by Junior. Having given up, Bill and his assistant suddenly spot a bag with "William Canfield Jr., Boston" written on it. When Junior finally appears, he is far from what his father expected—small in stature, awkward and donning an unconvincing pencil mustache as well as a ukulele and beret.
Founded in 1877, the Sacramento Southern Railroad was created to connect the city of Sacramento and nearby towns, such as Stockton, Roseville and Folsom. Initially constructed as a narrow gauge line, it eventually grew over time to become a standard gauge line that stretched 73 miles. The railroad played an important role in the development and economy of central California, helping to move agricultural goods throughout the region. Today, much of the railway still remains operational, offering freight services to local businesses as well as scenic excursions for passengers who want to explore the picturesque Californian countryside.
Getting to the Sacramento Southern Railroad is a breeze! Starting from downtown, you can take the light rail for two stops and get off at the K Street Station. From there, head east on K Street until you reach 23rd Street, where you'll turn left and go one more block north until you reach N Street; the station is right there.
Buster Keaton's stunts are truly remarkable—so much so that one might believe they were achieved through special effects. His fearless performances, however, are a testament to his crazy character on and off set. Every stunt he pulls off must be done with pinpoint accuracy and in perfect timing, lest the consequences are fatal or catastrophic—none more evident than the cyclone scene on the Sacramento River where the wall of a house falls accurately on its mark.
This film is packed with great physical comedy from Buster, who hits all his marks perfectly. Pantomime sequences display Buster's wit and charm. Towards the final scenes of the movie, Buster attempts an elaborate escape plan for his dad (who is in jail at this point) by utilizing just a loaf of bread and miming out commands with only his hands. And by the end of this captivating film, you will be astonished at Buster's remarkable agility and the scenery that fits so well in Steamboat Bill, Jr.