Mystery of railway station Esperanza/Navajo Joe SOLVED!

Hey there Amigo… YO TENGO PESADILLAS CON EL PROBLEMA DE ESPERANZA. JA JA JA… translate buddy… Ok when i get time i will look into it… At the moment i,m on contract to local council … Thanks for your time and effort… You will get the medal lol. I will follow up another lead but no time at moment… maybe me with the medal ja ja ja. take care… Pedro

A new clue is from an early scene in the movie when 3 bandits chase the wagon with 4 persons including a wounded lady.
If you study the beginning of that scene you see a green slightly hilly landscape behind the bandits and the landscape matches very well with the Google maps 3D landscape just northeast of Piñar station not far from where Reynolds rides away from the station in a later scene.,+Granada,+Spanien/@37.399815,-3.4216565,88a,35y,34.93h,77.24t/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0xd6e2b0012977bf7:0xd7bfa855928f4200!8m2!3d37.3011351!4d-3.1403256

It is logical if this is a correct match since if ESPERANZA station was located at Piñar station then it would be practical that the mentioned scene with the wagon was shot near the station where the wagon in a following scene would arrive.

In a scene between these two when the bandits get closer it seems to have been shot on the other side of the green hills northeast of the station, that is a bit closer to Bogarre.

To me all this taken together implies that it is almost 100 % certain that several scenes in Navajo Joe, including the one mentioned earlier when Reynolds drives the train just before the shots from ESPERANZA station, must have been shot in the surroundings of Piñar station thus indication that this station itself most likely is located where ESPERANZA station was shot, at least the railway tracks and the train.
Some shots from the station may have be taken elsewhere or are slightly manipulated or something like that to avoid a background with mountains.

The riding scenes dealt with in post #22 go along with shots obviously taken with Sierra Nevada (or closer snowy mountains) in the background. The persued wagon both travels in direction to and away from those mountains, and one shot probably is taken not too far away from Iznalloz. You can see that different riding scenes must have been taken on different occasions, probably days, since there is a big difference in weather conditions. So it should be no surprise if all those scenes were taken within some reasonable distance from Piñar station as seems to be the case.

Calle Esperanza in Piñar pueblo of course is not a big clue, but there are a Calle Lee Van Cleef etc in an other movie relevant pueblo. There seems to be a few other streets named Esperanza in the many many villages of the province of Granada.
In a wild theory you could speculate that the street got its name from the movie, or the opposite that the street name inspired the movie makers if they visited the pueblo around the same time that some scenes were shot nearby, as the bandits hunting the wagon.

I and my wife (who took a lot of photos) visited Piñar station a few days ago, but that did not reveal any new obvious important clues.

There were tracks of wrecked building(s) on the right side of the current station buildings which in theory might be remains of the two, or one of them, seen in the movie on the opposite side of the ESPERANZA station building.

But as concluded before the movie makers must have modified/manipulated the backgrounds and especially the mountain/hill view in the background of the arriving train if Piñar station is the real location.

Most likely not movie related I guess, there was a piece of metal on the ground near where ESPERANZA station building in theory would have been located, but which I have no idea what it is or means. It seems to be written :

“25 B WALKING” or so.

Anyhow I still think some riding/chasing/wagon scenes could have been shot on both sides of the green hills just north of the railway between Piñar station and Bogarre.

But the former conclusion :

" To me all this taken together implies that it is almost 100 % certain that several scenes in Navajo Joe, including the one mentioned earlier when Reynolds drives the train just before the shots from ESPERANZA station, must have been shot in the surroundings of Piñar station thus indication that this station itself most likely is located where ESPERANZA station was shot, at least the railway tracks and the train. "

… may be a little bit too exaggerated.
A rather high probability seems more appropriate, for example before you now if manipulated movie backgrounds could have been a reality in those days.

I have added the location mystery on the Navajo Joe IMDb site under Trivia:

We also visited some other, but more well known, spaghetti-western locations in La Calahorra, Las Salinillas, Cerro Lee Van Cleef in Sierra Alhamilla, Albaricoques, Pozo de Frailes, Cortijo El Sotillo, Cortijada El Romeral and Molino del Collado de Los Genoveses, and also the opening scene platau/field of For A Few Dollars More in the Tabernas desert.

Hi there Runner… Thank you for your massive input into trying to solve the Mystery of Esperanza… With us not living far away from Almeria film locations and next to Guadix/Calahorra/Gor/Gorafe locations we have enjoyed the thrill of sitting,standing and photo time of all those film actors in so numerous Spaghetti Westerns in our area… We hope your visit went to plan and you thoroughly enjoyed the moment… Did you go to the Tabernas film festival with anniversary 50th of Claudia Cardinale in Once upon a time in the West…

Now then back to the dreaded mystery of ESPERANZA Station… Several years ago my wife and I researched the area and El Pinar station as you have kindly done( hours n hours travel and research) like yourselves… Our conclusion was that this station/via and backdrop behind the existing station was as close as indicated in the film Navajo Joe/Joe El Implacable in Spanish. The problem was/is the hills/mountains behind the train coming into ESPERANZA… Personally i don,t think back in 1966 they would have changed the backdrop BUT who knows…

We are still on the case looking and searching for a new lead … There must have been Extras in the film for sure also Mechanics/Carpenters/Electricians/Tea ladies etc etc… Someone must still be alive that worked on this Western… Once again keep up the good work and lets hope one day we can get clarification on The mystery of Esperanza… Good luck… Pedro

Hi once more pedro-james, I didn’t know there was a Tabernas film festival the very same week we had planned to go there, and it obviously made it more difficult to get a decent Hotel. I am not the Festival type so we didn’t attend but saw that both Mini Hollywood and Western Leone was crowded with afisionados, while we at the same time on last Friday ran or jogged up to the in my view more attractive Cerro Lee Van Cleef. The mountains there and at Las Salinillas are extremely beautiful.

I hope you can reach someone still alive from the film crew and with good memory, or if there are Movie company files ? In fact I did try to contact Burt Reynolds himself in August this year on his probably personal Facebook page. He had been seen active there earlier this year so I reckoned there was a fair chance of getting some response, but sadly he passed away just shortly after.

Jogging up to Cerro Lee Van Cleef sounds a bit scary to me,Especially with Wild turkey and a gut full of tapas lol. The search for ESPERANZA or true location continues

Ha, ha our stomachs were fairly empty after a very light breakfast, but the last kilometer of the stony gravel/dirt camino was rather tough with an around 100 meter vertical climb where my lazy wife started to walk but I continued except for a short walk around the last (scary) steep bend to the left. That is where Clint Eastwood was seen riding fast upwards meeting Lee Van Cleef in For A Few Dollars More. His horse must have been physically very fit with that steep grade :slight_smile:

By the way I just, probably in vain, sent a Facebook message to the actor Tanya Lopert, one of the women in the chased wagon and who has film credits from 2014. One should try to contact all mentioned on until the mystery is solved !

Good thinking… We leave no stones unturned…

Did you manage to get your photo taken under the rock… Five for you Five for me with Clint and Tuco…

“Did you manage to get your photo taken under the rock… Five for you Five for me with Clint and Tuco…”

I had not thought about that scene which I never have tried to identify regarding its location ( I am new to location searching since 1.5 years and before last week only via Google Maps 3D).
But photos just over the Cerro Lee Van Cleef were taken, such as

Not the same angle as in the movie though.

I haven’t given up the Piñar alternative.

These photos are the same as we took a few years back… As previously discussed the back drop is different with train coming into the station… We forwarded ours on to Mr Ray Watts and his Spaghetti western locations web site but abandoned the idea due to the backdrop with train entering the station… Hopefully we will crack the code in the near future… cheers for now… Pedro

You can also, a bit simplified, formulate it as which alternative is more likely :

  1. That the locomotive in question has been transported a long way to some “unknown” faraway station which seems extremely or unnaturally hard to identify.

  2. That they for some reason have been able to and have manipulated with a film shot from the Piñar station.

As I noted earlier, another panorama shot of the train in the movie seems to have a manipulated background regarding the mountains silhouettes, even if it sounds silly.
To me that background in the movie more looks like another view shot from a completely other place in Almeria and which I have identified.

Anyhow, we know that the epitet “mystery” is very well chosen :slight_smile:

On the IMDb site the contribution before my own states :

“For the production of this film, a miniature Western town was constructed on the environs of the old railway station at Guadix, Spain. The De Laurentiis movie studios did not have a western town set on their back-lot nor did Colmenar Viejo have a railway.”

But the Guadix station and surroundings do not seem especially similar to ESPERANZA. We didn’t even bother to go there when we visited the area a week ago,
prioritizating a run on the abandoned La Calahorra - Alquife track/road.

One can add that the telegraph poles at ESPERANZA had 8 nodes ( 4 x 2 vertical pairs) and that is different from known poles in the Guadix area in those “days”. That kind of configuration has been seen at some other places.

That’s incorrect - In ‘Navajo Joe’, the town of Esperanza is partially the De Laurentiis western town in Rome, which is quite green … and partially the El Paso set (Mini Hollywood ) in Almeria, which is clearly desert terrain.

Have you guys considered that the Esperanza Station film set could be an Italian location ?

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IF ESPERANZA railway station is an Italian location which cannot be totally ruled out, then they must have done som other kind of “manipulation”, that is for example mixed scenes with the 040-2169 locomotive (which is seen at “ESPERANZA” - even if the “040-2169” sign itself might be filmed at another place in theory - also a bit of manipulation in that case) but another locomotive in Italy approaching the station, at least IF you assume that the locomotive was not transported to Italy and back.

In any case it seems more easy to actually do some kind of manipuation than transport a locomotive to Italy.


Thanks for your reply:

I don’t know much about locomotive history, but I believe the trains used were dressed or outfitted to look like western period vehicles.

Is the type of locomotive seen in the film specifically used by Spanish railways, or would other European countries have similar engines, or at least something that could pass when the train had it’s smoke stack funnel and cattle guard added ?

‘Navajo Joe’ wouldn’t have had the budget to export a train from Spain to Italy.

I know Ray Watts has been investigating this mystery for several years, and he spoke to assistant director Ruggero Deodato, actors Nicholetta Machiavelli and Lucio Rosato, but no one seems to remember. :frowning:

Hoping that the mystery will someday be solved.

I only know that other sources on the Internet states that the actual 140-2169 locomotive was transported from Madrid to the Guadix area in 1966 where at least some scenes with the locomotive later in 1966 were shot for Navajo Joe, with one scene giving a glimpse of the number 040-2169 when the train is on the track in the Guadix area.

But again, IF there were some manipulation, then the train approaching the ESPERANZA station could have been filmed “anywhere” else with another similar locomotive and only the close-ups of the “right” locomotive with the identification numbers 040-2169. Theoretically it might even be a short then already existing film sequence taken from elsewhere, if copyright laws etc didn’t forbid that :slight_smile:

I still do think that there is a rather high probablity that at least some OTHER scenes were filmed near Piñar station due to an overall good match with the landscape there including at least one probable match with some hills. This circumstance makes that station a little bit more plausible, all things equal, as the ESPERANZA location. But it still is necessary to assume some movie scene manipulation for this to be true.

Either way the solution to the ESPERANZA mystery ought to have a somewhat strange component.

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