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Petros, Tennessee, Part 2

Baxter and Shelby Trail live on Main Street in Petros, Tennessee.  They lived in the same house during the time October Sky was filmed and even became temporary employees of the film company doing various jobs in Petros.  In 2006, we met Shelby and Baxter outside their home.  They showed us an album of photos they had taken during the filming, and they were kind enough to get us a scan of each photo.  Baxter and Shelby also provided a sheet listing what each picture was, and we have shown this in bold below. (We have added a few comments after in regular font.)  Thanks, Shelby and Baxter!

All of the photos are thumbnails.  You may click on a photo to enlarge it.


1.  Gateway to Coalwood.  This is Main Street in Petros, Tennessee.  It has been transformed into Coalwood, West Virginia, by the efforts of a wonderful movie crew.  The tipple in the background was constructed for the movie.  (It was torn down when production was finished.)  The brick gates and the sign were also constructed for the movie and were later removed. 


2.  Homer's house.  This house, also on Main Street, in Petros, was used for the exterior shots of Homer's house in the movie.  The film crew built the white picket fence around the house.  (Note: interior shots of Homer's house were shot inside a house in Oliver Springs, Tennessee.)


3.  Homer's house. 


4.  Homer's house. 


5. Homer's house.  Notice that the film crew has brought in truckloads of sand, and that the paved city street has been transformed into a dirt road just for the movie.  The film crew also brought in dozens of vintage cars and trucks to use in the movie.


6.  Homer's house with Amber Trail.  Amber is Shelby and Baxter's granddaughter.


7.  House east of Homer's house.  This house can be seen in some of the scenes of the movie.  All of the vehicles you see are being used by the film crew.  Notice the white picket fence belonging to Homer's house on the right.


8.  Preparing to blow fence up.  The photo was taken standing on the side of Homer's house looking east.  The Petros Baptist Church can be seen in the background on the left.  The film crew constructed the picket fence so that sections could be quickly replaced.  Since they usually filmed each scene many times (sometimes up to 20 times), they had to be able to blow up a section of the fence, quickly replace the section, then blow it up again.  As you recall, blowing up Homer's mom's white picket fence was an important moment in the book and movie!


9. Crane for rain scenes.   This large crane was used to spray water for a rain scene in the movie.  The fire department provided connections to a fire hydrant, and water was shot from the top of the crane.  (The crane may have been used during the rainy night scene when Homer ran in and out of his house the night his father was injured in the mine.)


10.  Preparing to blow fence again.


11.  Petros Baptist Church. (Homer's bedroom inside.) Homer's bedroom was set up and filmed in the basement of this church.  As Fred Schwendel told us, "That was a 'cover' set, meaning it was ready far in advance so in case of inclement weather, the film company can 'default' to it and not lose too much time. With the weather the way it was, just about every indoor set became a cover set. "


12.  Homer's bedroom. 


13.  Homer's bedroom. 


14. Homer's bedroom. 


15.  Moonshine house. 


16.  Moonshine house. 


17.  Gateway to Coalwood. 


18.  Olga Coal Company (Amber Trail).


19.  Machine shop and mine office. 


20.  Worker (Greg Daugherty). 


21.  ? building on Petros set. 


22.  Building on Petros set.  (Country Cafe now.)  (In 2006, this building is now the Country Cafe restaurant.) 


23.  Building on Petros set.  (Country Cafe now.)  (In 2006, this building is now the Country Cafe restaurant.) 


24.  Old library. 


25.  Props. 


26.  Board for chits. 


27.  Props. 


28.  Truck driver. 


29.  Truck driver. 


30.  Tipple. 


31.  Tipple. 


32.  Tipple with Amber Trail. 


33.  Tipple and coal mine. 



34.  We were not able to identify this photo until September 2007.  At that time, Scott Rainey, an 8th Grade Reading/Social Studies/Writing teacher from Jemtegaard Middle School in  Washougal, Washington, sent us this wonderful e-mail:

Just stumbled upon your website - I just wanted to let you know that photo #34 on the "Petros 2" page is of my father, Louis R. Rainey. Dad was tickled to death to get to be an extra in "October Sky," so much so that he'd call me on a regular basis during the filming to let me know who he'd met and what he'd done. He can be seen clearly in the final rocket scene (the launching of the "Miss Riley"), standing in the back in a decidedly un-50's gray Members Only jacket, visibly chewing gum. After my girlfriend (later my wife) and I went to see the film opening night here in Washington, I went to a store and bought him a fake Oscar statuette that I had engraved: "Best Gum Chewing in a Major Motion Picture: Louis Rainey, October Sky, 1999." He proudly kept it atop his television.

We lost Dad not long after, in a tragic auto accident at the intersection of Highway 116 (the main drag out of Petros) and Highway 62, in the little blue pickup shown in the photograph. It would mean a great deal to me if you could ... say my dad's name, and that he was a 23 year veteran of the US Navy, serving through WWII, Korea and Vietnam, who, after the death of his wife (my mother), found love again (Marvine Scott, whom he'd dated for a time before marrying mom) and returned to Petros, where he grew up, and spent ten wonderful years. He was actually born in Devonia, which doesn't exist anymore - somewhere "over a hill and down a holler" from Petros. Thanks so much.




35.  Old cars with Amber Trail. 


36.  Substation and ambulance with Amber Trail. 


37.  Bulldozer. 


38.  Bulldozer. 


39.  Train with Homer.  The real Homer Hickam, Jr. is in the cab.   The train was brought  in from Chattanooga, Tennessee, just for the filming of October Sky.  The picture was taken in Harriman, Tennessee.


40.  Train with Homer in Harriman, Tennessee.


41. Train with Homer.


42.  Train with Homer in Harriman, Tennessee.


43.  Sally Lively, Jake Gyllenhaal, Shelby Trail.    This photo was taken on Main Street in Petros.


44.  Town shot of Petros. 


45. Brushy Mountain Prison.   Not part of the movie, but a big part of Petros, Tennessee's Brush Mountain State Prison is located about a mile from where the filming of October Sky took place. 


46.  This is an aerial shot of Petros, Tennessee.


47. Quentin's House.  This is a night picture of Quentin's dilapidated house.  The photo was taken in Petros during the actual filming.  That is Jake with his back to the camera.

Scott Rainey sent us this additional information:

[Photo 47 is] listed as a dilapidated house in Petros, but I have a small bit of history on it.. It's actually owned by my stepmother, Mrs. Marvine Rainey (formerly Scott), and it's the house she grew up in. Despite its ramshackle appearance, it is (or at least was, as of 1999) structurally sound inside, and holds some antique furniture that belonged to the Scott family. I know the property pretty well, at least from the outside - I have a photograph of myself patching the roof over the porch in July of 1999 [see below]. My dad [see photo 34 above] always (good naturedly) complained about having to go up there every week to mow the grass and to do maintenance on a house nobody lives in.

Scott Rainey patching the roof.





48. Substation.  Here is a better picture of the Substation, which was built just for the filming.  Note the wiring. It is actually just plain rope that has been dyed black to look like wires.