Client: Bringhurst LLC
Location: Fremont, CA, United States
Completion date: 2012
Artwork budget: $275,000
Chiodo Art Development
Niles Canyon to the south of San Francisco had a small scale railroad connecting Fremont to Sunol. Its history included being used in several films from 1912-1916 including Charlie Chaplin's The Tramp. The client's vision was to preserve this interestng railway and film history.
The client had a property close to the western entrance to Niles Canyon, and wanted the art installation there, an unexpected location. The large apartment complex had a strip of land adjacent to the intersection of two major boulevards. I designed the train engine as a 3-D component at 2/3 scale of the actual size of the Niles Railway engine. The two passenger cars, tender and caboose were all bas-relief panels that are attached to a concrete wall. Charlie Chaplin is depicted as the engineer. After the initial installation of the train and water tower, the client added lighting to the train, then a mural and train-themed signage. Most recently, Niles Station was built and I sculpted a Victorian family traveling to California and a porter with a massive load of luggage.
This particular client was a history afficiando and it was great fun to work with her. She and I would discuss ideas and she would select what she could afford to do at that time. The project is immensely popular in the community of Fremont and I am proud to have contributed to the memory of their unique legacy, and to have worked with Lila Bringhurst.
The Niles Train, water tower, Victorians and porter are constructed of mixed media. The mural is painted on wood panels. The train is 110' long.