TrainTown Toronto

Traintown Toronto TT Toronto

Green Frog

Length: 56 minutes

Time Period: early 1970′s

Source: Emery Gulash

MSRP: 24.98

Emery Gulash was one of the most notable train cinematographers ever. His vast collection of color 16mm films contains many classic railroads. He was fortunate enough to be able to travel extensively in an interesting era for trains. This show originates at Toronto in the early 1970′s.

Green Frog Productions have produced a fine selection of Emery filmed shows for decades. This release was a surprise. Emery and his friend Walt journeyed to Toronto for a few days of filming the action near Toronto’s main station.

1Canadian National and Canadian Pacific are the headliners in this show. GO and a bit of Ontario Northland are also here.

7Peter Youngblood narrates the tightly scripted program. Many details about operations and equipment result in an informative show.

cn 3155A specially modified MLW RS18 powers a passenger train between Toronto and southern Ontario. This fleet sported a unique livery, as seen here.

rdc torontoThis shot with the RDC set has some of downtown Toronto. The area seems to be miles long. Locations vary and Emery comes up with a plethora of classic Canadian trains. Some hazy weather is present.  Camera is smooth and professional. All color on gorgeous 16mm film.

cp6543 rGreen Frog is commended for their state of the art digital production.

cn3232 c424Emery recorded sounds trackside as well. The soundtrack sounds good. CN 3232 returns with a light engine move at Cabin D. Earlier, these babies were hauling freight.

cn super continentalCanadian National’s Super Continental. It’s long summer consist departs Toronto. This scene captures more of the vastness of the rail network, in the Toronto vicinity.

walt sardinhaA salute to many of the railfans who were shooting trackside. To be Walt Sardinha alongside Emery back in the day. How cool is that?

go9801 gp40tc eastboundGovernment of Ontario Transit. Commonly referred to as GO Transit. This odd locomotive is a GP40TC.

cp6525 s3Some earlier paint schemes are seen on Canadian Pacific. The Pacman livery was new.

Usually, I like to close a review with a caboose. Due to the fact that we see CN and CP equally, let us see two…

cabin dCanadian Pacific, with some wonderful, old 40 foot boxcars. At Cabin D, all switches are hand thrown. Dedicated switchmen await orders, via a loudspeaker system. Hey, I waited all day to get the word via into this review. That’s right, this predates those VIA trains.

cnCanadian National with a pretty as picture money shot from Emery.

TrainTown Toronto is a highly enjoyable visit to the past. An excellent assortment of passenger and freight train action. Plenty of Canadian rarities that will satisfy everyone.

Although Emery Gulash has passed into history, his work lives on. There are many fine titles featuring his great cinematography. In fact, Green Frog has been remastering those shows. As far as TrainTown Toronto…. It is as fantastic as the rest. A must have for vintage railfans.

Rating: 5 Stars

Before the Wires Came Down

Before the Wires Came Downcvr

(The Springfield Terminal Railway)

A&R Productions

Length: 45 minutes

Time Period: 1950′s

Sources: Karl Hartman, Bill Orne


Vintage film collection of diminutive Springfield   Terminal Railway. This shortline was 8 miles long. It interchanged with Boston & Maine at Charleston, New Hampshire.


Beginning with some black and white film of the ST. Proceeds with Karl Hartman’s color films. Amateur shot on 8mm film. Camera shake is ever present. A variety of viewpoints do show a healthy inclusion of cab rides. Pacing, runbys, and street views. Period towns and traffic are interesting.

car barn

Audio has dubbed sounds. These are adequate at best. Levels are uneven. Ted Dalaku clearly narrates. Some history and equipment, includes final dispositions of featured units. Heavy on locations.

st 29 bw 1929Baldwin-Westinghouse number 20 is the feautured motor in the first half of the show.

st8                         Number 8 is homebuilt. Equipped for maintenance jobs.

16brMotorcar 16 is the featured on two fantrips on the second half. Arranged by Karl Hartman in 1956. Karl is the only fan on these trips!

transToo much time is spent on, loading and transporting the retired equipment. This is filler.

trip2A so-so trolley video. There are higher quality programs about trolley lines.

The amateur camera relegates this to hardcore fans.

Rating: 2 1/2 Stars

Southern Railway Historical Society 4PAK Set #2

Southern Railway Historical Society 4PAK Set #2tag

Green Frog Productions

Length: 4.7 hours

Format: 4 disc set

Time Period: 1945- 1981

Sources: Southern Railway, Electromotive, Great Northern, Norfolk & Western, Southern Pacific, US Navy


Assortment collection of  16 vintage films. Sometimes these shorts, feature Southern Railway. Additional films are included. The US Navy has some on diesel motors. One by Electromotive of LaGrange. Great Northern, Norfolk & Western, plus Southern Pacific.

oth 2241They are varied in content. Most are based on railroad subjects. The naval films are a stretch. Southern Railway Historical Society has assembled this collection. Green Frog is the producer. They have transferred the films to 1080HD. Widescreen and 4×3 formats.

oth mack

A side benefit to see, are the time periods. Vintage truck fans will find numerous examples. Anyone who has ever been around a freight facility will notice all the handwork and lack of shrinkwrap.

Realize, that a transfer is not a restoration. These films were all professionally produced. They do have some color issues, like any unrestored film stock. The balance can be off or there can be fading.  Lucky for us, the assorted short shows were pro shot on 16mm film.

Audio is clear and that has good balance. Narratives are well written. Acting and some voiceovers, are often not Hollywood.They do convey the information.

joe 2145For the review, a selection of highlighted films will be the focus. Some have a higher interest level, and your mileage may vary.

The United States Navy films, are all black and white. Found these as unnecessary. Who cares about cylinder replacement and the like anyway? It plays like time filler. There is still a healthy amount of railroad material to watch.

This release is spread across a 4 DVD set. It is nicely packaged in a secure clamshell case.

Disc One

cattleSouthern Railway- Opportunity on the Hoof (28 minutes)

Learn the history of the meat industry, down South. Interesting account of the Agri-business . Very little railroad footage. Follow the Agri-Bus and see where they travel.


Paced to Live (17 minutes)

Great Northern produced, during the Big Sky Blue era. Grade crossing safety. Apparently, Southern was showing this one to it’s own people too.

Coupler Reprocessing (10 minutes)

Southern’s facility is seen in detail. More then you ever need to know, regarding coupler refurbishment.

Traction Motor Flashover (14 minutes)

This looks and feels old. Technical aspects of electrical flashovers. Motor centered. Produced by EMD. No, you do not see the plant, or much else. One Santa Fe passenger train shown at the end. Notable, as this is at nearby McCook Crossing on ATSF.

Sonicar (9 minutes)

Caldwell Westinghouse advertisement for an advanced braking system. They probably turned off buyers by showing all the added equipment.

Disc Two

nw2oth 9835

Off The Hook (16 minutes)

Family lake outing turns into a discussion of Southern! This shows a selection of modern equipment. Big John hoppers, All Door cars, Big Boy Tobacco Boxcars and Auto Bilevel. Section on the new cushion underframes. See vintage diesels at work. Good show.

pb2pb1Piggy-Back Southern Style (18 minutes)

This shows the plight of a Traffic Manager with company trucks. Enter Southern’s service! Vintage trucks are here. See early 1960′s Southern Containerized Freight Service. Plenty of action. Piggyback and container transloading. One of the best in the set.

Progressive Maintenance of the General Motors 12-567A Diesel Engine (21 minutes + 23 minutes)

US Navy training  films from 1945. EMD12-567 motors for LST units.

Disc Three


stp2Straight to the Point (23 minutes)

Three hunters discuss freight damage. Plenty of classic freight cars to see. Boxcar interiors, loading facilities, and no palletization. GE refrigerator plant, Aluminum factory. Produced by Southern. Operating Vice President plays Mr. Shipper. A good old show.

Ribbon Rails, Mechanized Handling and Laying (32 minutes)

Never have found anything related to rail captivating.

Progressive Maintenance of the General Motors 12-567A Diesel Engine (16 minutes)

Even more 1945 naval engine maintenance.

Disc Four

rollingSouthern- Rolling South (14 minutes)

Time period is the 1970′s. Train 154 to Atlanta and Port of Savannah. Aerial views of trains. Cab ride sequence. Nice runbys. Rotary coal dump. Linwood hump yard. Tower and office interiors. Excellent time capsule.

joe cincy2

joe baldwins

A Job for Joe (18 minutes)

Army veteran Joe can’t get rehired by Southern. The reason? Too many expensive claims. Great shots of classic Southern. Music by The Almond Hillbillies. This is the one most remembered by the employees. Plenty of train scenes.

nwCoal Carrier to the World (9 minutes)

Norfolk & Western 1981. Appalachian coal, from mine to port. Little is seen of the railroad. It does cover the coal transport to the ship very well..

safety3The safety film has faded on the outdoor footage.

safety2Safety Facts About Crossing Tracks (13 minutes)

SP Safety Department has a better then average cross safely show. Check the Matchbox cars and HO trains. A unique method to demonstrate scenarios around grade crossings.

Scavenging and Supercharging of Diesel Engines (14 minutes)

US Navy 1943 training film. Fairbanks Morse opposed piston engines were desirable for marine applications. Two stroke motors here. All of these mechanical shorts should have occupied a single disc. They do belong together.

This collection is good for those looking for subjects, that are only briefly seen in train videos.


Some of these films are interesting to watch. Others are one timers. Couldn’t sit through the old black and white engine training films.

Overall, this collection does have some worthwhile short features. Recommended for those shows as mentioned.

Rating: 3 Stars

Courting Miss Katy

Courting Miss Katy cover

A&R Productions

Length: 2 Hours

Time Period: 1970-1989

Locations: system

Source: Jim Terrell

MSRP: 29.95

Missouri- Kansas- Texas, or MKT.  Filmed in Super 8 with camera audio. Cameraman Jim Terrell traveled to assorted locations on the MKT system.Spanning about 20 years. Viewers will get a brief look at a few red locomotives, but only for a couple of minutes. The green and yellow livery dominates. Most of the two hours, is from the mid to late 1980′s.

Cinematography is generally good. At times, the lighting is: backlit, washed out, or dark. Occasional camera shake. Picture framing is also good. While the show has amateur moments, it is very watchable. Nothing that completely ruins the viewing.

607 88Original films are clean. They are candidates for digital restoration or enhancement.

Audio is skewed to higher frequencies.What is heard is authentic. Limitations are very noticeable. There is no bass.

1989Extra items such as : intersecting trackage, interlocking towers and other structures, are nice inclusions. Stations are another point of interest. Many views of bridge crossings have a dramatic flair. Model railroaders can have a field day with all of this!

mkt313 88

Basic narrative by Aaron Gonthier. Script provides: years, locations and some train info. A few simple maps are here. The maps are minimal. Some Katy background history.

denisonMKT had a diverse locomotive roster.  Rebuilds by EMD resulted in some rare power operating far past the retirements of unrepowered units. Alco and Baldwin locos with modified hoods are the primary examples seen. There is an old F7A which is only used as a B unit. Slug service was the fate of another engine.

Additional second hand railroad engines are interspersed throughout. Former, Conrail, ICG, and Penn Central are seen in hastily applied ‘patch job’ versions.

sherman mopac localUnion Pacific, Missouri Pacific, Southern Pacific, Cotton Belt, Santa Fe and Burlington Northern are also operating. Mopac Canaries, SF and SP Kodachromes are seen.

tower 55

Shortline and industrial railroads, are found within the program.A creosote plant gets a  long visit. Port of Galveston has a few small lines.

UP 8444 is chased for a few minutes to the show’s conclusion.

cab 106Overall, this show provides a comprehensive view of MKT. Digital enhancement would be a major improvement. Railfans do get 2 hours along the Katy.

Rating: 3 Stars

The Hard Coal Roads: what went wrong

The Hard Coal Roads: what went wrongD143

Charles Smiley Presents

Format: Factory Pressed DVD

Length: 1 hour 40 minutes + 20 minutes previews

Time Period: 1970- 1976

Sources: Joseph Zook, Jack Kuiphoff, Will Whittaker.

MSRP: 28.50

Charles has the Eastern hard coal roads featured in the pre-Conrail era. This new program, contains a cornucopia of rare, and unreleased film. Featured railroads: Lehigh Valley, Reading, Jersey Central, Erie Lackawanna, Delaware and Hudson, plus Penn Central. There are also some connecting lines. Railfans will see an action packed show!

rs3Central Railroad of New Jersey. Red Baron paint scheme on an Alco RS3.

Much of the film has hard to find footage, in high quality. This collection surpasses anything that I have seen for the first three railroads. Face the facts, LV, RDG and CNJ are usually available in grainy, unrestored issues. They didn’t capture the attention of railfan cinematographers very much.

1919Riding a hard coal train in the year………….. 1919.

Hard coal… anyone?.. The answer is Anthracite coal… What went wrong?…Why are there nearly zero coal trains in this program?…. How does this lead into Conrail?….. Watch this show.

rdg5209Reading Lines had a unique, cab roof rain gutter over the cab windows. Number 5209 is a Century 424. It leans into a superelevated curve.

dh610Alco Centuries were part of the D&H Alco heavy roster. The lightning stripe livery, is a true classic. Number 610 is a C628. At 2750 horsepower, it was a powerful locomotive. One of three that still exist. This one survives at a museum in Mexico.

lv635Lehigh Valley C-628 in the stunning Snowbird scheme.

Alcophiles will love all of that builders diesels in use by these railroads. Plenty of Electromotive too.

pc tansboroCharles is also a talented model railroader. He has an eye for including scenes that are conducive to the hobby. Note all of the details in this scene. Structure, signals, rural crossing etc..


All six railroads benefit from Mr. Smiley’s extensive digital restoration. The colors are accurate. Images and the trains seem to jump off the screen.

cnjrsd5Jersey Central with a pair of Alco RSD-5 locomotives. Passenger trains are sometimes operating with leased power. Some unrepainted, second hand cars are surprising.

The audio levels are well balanced. The narrative and train sounds have even levels. There are various musical pieces interpolated throughout the show.

dh trackageAlways improving his products, check the updated maps. D&H with trackage rights.

bmAll CSP shows have nice surprises. A railroad that is hard to find, Boston & Maine.

elErie Lackawanna receives extensive coverage. All have their historical background described. Viewers will have an understanding of the regional big picture.

rdg map


A meticulous producer. Location awareness is always a priority. Using: narration, text graphics and a fabulous array of maps to enhance the story.

pc4603 e33Penn Central electric operations are one facet of the vast railroad.

el tuxedo

A 20 minute preview section is included. Total time is 2 hours. Man, I like the looks of Northeast Rails. Conrail fans will find plenty in these previews.

lv neThe USRA Northeast caboose is all over the show! Visible on different roads, in assorted liveries. Watch for these gems.

The Hard Coal Roads: what went wrong. I have watched the program and heard the history. Any railfan or model railroader should find this an enjoyable sojourn on these fallen flags. Extremely interesting and has the rarity factor. In short, this exemplary show is a must have!

Rating: 5 Stars