The Illinois Central 1990 (The Heritage Series)

The Illinois Central cover1990: Single Tracking The Mainline of Mid-America

Diverging Clear Productions

Length: 72 minutes + extended bonus + previews

Time Period: 1990

Locations: Centralia, Carbondale, Cobden, Effingham, Bluford…and more

Source: George Redmond

Producer: Mary McPherson

MSRP:

Here is a brand new 2014 Heritage Series from Diverging Clear Productions. This is their avenue for older, video sourced railroading in the 1980’s to 1990’s. Uncommon shows.

Illinois Central is a railroad that frequents Diverging Clear Productions. It’s close proximity to this producer yields an abundance of source material. Similar to the earlier Illinois Central Gulf in the Heritage Series. This represents an additional opportunity to visit a past version of Illinois Central action. The year 1990 and a downsized, black and white powered IC.

8310By this time, the former expanded Illinois Central Gulf was downsized. Newly created regionals like Chicago Central were operating spun off sections of the ICG. Another new element in this updated ICRR. was a project to single track the Illinois mainline. For those who railfanned the double tracked line for decades, an odd sight to behold.

map 1The Illinois Central was a rare railroad. A North to South traffic orientation, versus the common East – West pattern. DCP again employs this clever map solution.

8743Repainted into a new version of the black, green diamond scheme. the locomotive roster  achieved a uniform look. Compared to the plethora of ICG’s rolling museum of predecessor colors. The road looked cohesive, if somewhat less interesting.

carbondaleThe new logo appeared to resemble the AT&T image. Large numerals on the engine hoods seemed sized for steam tenders. The green diamond was in use on Chicago Central & Pacific. Yet, in multiple unit lash-ups, the power of the green diamond was retained.

box

coal 1

icgAnother observation of train watching circa 1990. The freight cars still wore some 1970 and 1980 paint schemes. This show contains an assortment of: non graffiti, covered grain cars From old gray Illinois Central to orange IC and ICG. Various boxcars are seen.

2011Narrative includes background on Paducah rebuilds. The SD20 model was unique.

George Redmond was trackside in 1990. He is the videographer for this and other Heritage Series shows. The camerawork is steady and the shots are well composed. The quality is good. Age has effected the original tapes. The producer has color corrected as much as possible. This 2014 release has the best quality of IC related Heritage Series shows.

While the title and year highlight the single tracking of the mainline. Many scenes do contain both tracks. Some were still in service or recently retired. Mary has included a few still photos that she took of the transition. ‘

amtrak city of new orleans                                 Amtrak, The City Of New Orleans arrives at Centrailia.

Arranged in chronological order. The program features action along the mainline in Southern Illinois. Mary narrates and gives relevant information. The show flows along smoothly. Natural audio is predominant. A handful of trains are chased. There is some pacing too.

3024                                                           This program is action packed!

frankA special extended bonus feature is worth a look. Tour of ICRR 4-8-2 2500. A former ICRR engineer gives the display engine a detailed tour and explanation in about 30 minutes. He covers everything on this steam engine. Interesting.

cabooseThe Illinois Central 1990. Gives viewers exactly what they expect. If you seek more variety, the Back in Black release has predecessor liveries. Both are similar. This one is a continuation of the previous program. This newer show looks better.

Rating: 3 Stars

Pullman Rail Journeys – Rebirth of an American Legend

Pullman Rail Journeys – Rebirth of an American Legend cover

Diverging Clear Productions

2014 Release

Length: 53 minutes + preview section

Time Period: 2014 with some vintage film.

Locations: Chicago – New Orleans roundtrip

Sources: Mary R. McPherson, Kurt I. Jensen, George Redmond

Here is a new take on an old favorite. Most railfans are aware of classic train era Pullman service. Operating their renowned cars on such famous passenger trains as: The 20th Century Limited, Broadway Limited, Panama Limited and the Super Chief. This was luxury level travel, aboard the finest trains in the country. The experience was an integral part of the journey.

amtrak city of new orleans locomotive                      What does this historic aspect have to do with a 2014 Amtrak train?

So happens that our producer Mary McPherson, is also a real life Amtrak conductor. Her regular assignment is on The City of New Orleans. Another train that is rich in history. Viewers will take a roundtrip on this train. However, we will travel in style, aboard a 70 year old, updated and refurbished, genuine Pullman car. While the Amtrak cars are nice, this trip is unique.

Those familiar with Diverging Clear Productions have witnessed an evolution in their programs. Improvements in equipment, and overall production are a welcome sight in the train video market. If you have seen some of the earlier releases, you are in for a nice surprise. The level of professionalism has been on the upswing over time. Mary has been on a mission to offering railfans improved releases.

Let’s see what her and her companions have been doing aboard the Pullman…

Kurt Jensen is a familiar voice on DCP programs. The script is well written. An abundance of narrative covers quite a bit of ground. In a classic style, A chapter of Pullman background opens the show, along with some vintage film.The structure of the Pullman crew is informative.

Chicago tail         Fast forward to present day, in Chicago. Amtrak #59 – The City of New Orleans.

20th century limitedThis 1950’s scene appears to be on the New Yprk Central 20th Century Limited.

dinner 2014                                                     Here we are – at dinner, in 2014.

This trip offers interviews that interpolate with Kurt’s narrative. We will hear from a few members of the Pullman team.

moore Jody Moore is one. He is a natural for on-screen work. All of his discussions are clear, and he is just a good listen.

chi night 2The overall cinematography on the 2014 shots is first rate. Solid and smooth. Mary favors night scenes and they are all nicely illuminated. The various scenes are smartly chosen. This is Chicago. Amtrak/ Metra yard.

rowe

Editing is smooth. Each chapter has a definite close. In fact, this show is one of the tightest edits that DCP has released.

Musical interludes, natural sounds and even more vintage cuts, are intermingled throughout.

Iowa Pacific is the entity that: collects, restores and operates these cars. They are all painted in the old, Illinois Central passenger scheme. Lettered for the current road. Original,chocolate and orange livery.

hammond la In both directions, some classic train stations are seen. They are beauties.

hansen

Rick Hansen discusses specifics of what Pullman crew members actually do on their jobs. All of the Pullman personnel are fine communicators. This is likely a big part of why they are in these positions.

cn 2727 A note of interest. This train traverses the Yazoo District since the 1990’s. A deviation of the original Illinois Central route. Strange for me, to see Canadian National power this far south. A new age indeed.

vaugn ms

The return trip is exactly that. However, their are some surprises. I would have liked even greater detail regarding  – what happened here. It is still good, a little more story needed, for the family viewers benefit.

Also on my want list would be a brief tour of the car interiors.

iowa pacific memphisPullman Railway Journeys – Rebirth of an American Legend. A fine program for the entire family.

For those seeking a train program that is about current railroading, this one is interesting. The hour you spend here, will pass quickly. The hallmark of an enjoyable show.

Mary, you have come a long way. Congratulations!

Viewers, this show is highly recommended.

Rating: 4 Stars

Tehachapi: SP and Santa Fe era

Tehachapi: SP and Santa Fe era cvr

Charles Smiley Presents

Length: 2 hours 48 minutes + preview section

Time Period: 1960’s to 1990’s.

Locations: Caliente, Walong, Cajon Pass, Palmdale Cutoff, Barstow Yard, Taylor Yard, Bealville and much more..

Sources: T. Wegman, N. Rath, T. Jocelyn (Kodak film). J. Perry, G. Pagliaro (video)

MSRP: 28.50

Tehachapi Loop is one of the most famous railroad locations in the world. Rich in history, the area is a hotbed for; trains and railfan photographers. This show covers over 30 years. Southern Pacific and Santa Fe are the featured railroads. Charles often expands with a ‘above and beyond’ presentation style. While there are a variety of Tehachapi titles on the market, and some are well done. The uniqueness of a Charles Smiley offering is worth consideration- even if you have others. This new release could be definitive- let’s review.

gp30The shot that everyone wants to see. This train will reveal all Santa Fe GP30 locomotives in the lashup. This is where a train passes over itself, on the Tehachapi Loop.

ssw sd40tNotice the cleaner locomotives of the vintage SP. A Cotton Belt SD40T is on point.

f7sPassenger trains are included. Mail trains on the Santa Fe. Ride an SP move.

f45               The Santa Fe F45 is captured in warm looking, California daylight.

taylor yardTo use a single word for Taylor Yard circa 1978… crowded! Model railroaders will surely appreciate these scenes.

alco s                        There are plenty of Santa Fe pinstripe scheme diesels.

routesJudicious usage of his custom made maps can display, routes, elevations and trackage.

storeNaturally, the expected location names are here. Additionally, Cajon Pass, Taylor Yard. and San Bernardino are a sample of what else is visited. Some of these are featured at length.

palmdaleHistorical aspects are another cornerstone within CSP shows. See the 1967 Palmdale Cutoff. A freewheeling narrative that is highly detailed. Charles performs the narrative. This is non scripted, and contains a master class on railroads.

bw spSoundtrack has a large supply of natural and builder accurate locomotive sounds. Various musical backgrounds are another part of the audio. The narration is balanced with some non narrated  trainwatching.

gp60This program is a double feature. There is contemporary, 1990’s era Tehachapi. Vintage film has a great overview of Southern Pacific and Santa Fe operations in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

f7Viewers will enjoy 90 minutes of digitally restored and enhanced vintage Kodak color film. This feature alone, is worth the price of admission. A wide assortment of locomotives and views. This is frame by frame restoration. Charles has the goal of providing the best for viewers.

alcoHelpers are operating both mid-train and as pusher sets. The Alco units were demonstrators. Learn about SP and why some locomotives were pulled from the mainlines.

boxcars spSome nice scenes that display the freight cars of the time. Interesting, to compare the shades of boxcar red on this train.

u36c

sp u33c                    Santa Fe GE U36C locomotives and SP U33C class, are discussed.

smokeAs this Southern Pacific freight exits a long tunnel, the sooty exhaust billows from the hole.

spsfOil Can train with an SD40T-2, in SP Kodachrome repaint, as a mid-train helper.

90s sp

90sAfter the vintage centerpiece, we are returned to the 1990’s. Both of these eras are enjoyable.

sf cabWe have just skimmed through a show that exceeds 2 1/2 hours. There is much more to see.

sp cab                                               Tehachapi: SP and Santa Fe era

Charles Smiley has the definitive Tehachapi program here. Combining vintage and modern, this high quality production is an immediate classic. Railfans and model railroaders will find this new release a comprehensive overview of Tehachapi Loop, with surrounding areas. This great show is easily in the top of the Charles Smiley Presents catalog.

Rating: 5 Stars

Extreme Trains: Circus Train

Extreme Trains- Circus Train

History Channel

Format: 2 DVD set

Length: 44 minutes. Single Episode

Time Period: 2008 and some vintage circus film.

Locations: Baltimore to Washington, Steamtown USA, Palmetto, Fl.

Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus

Episode From Extreme Trains- Season One

Host: Matt Bown

As a fan of both railroad and circus, this title does get my attention. Does the presentation mix the two subjects together well? Do we get the desired mix of circus animals and iron horse?

t1                                       A Ringling Brothers train is a long one at nearly 60 cars..

t2

spare tireMatt Bown is our energetic host. He’s a hands on, let me try that type of guy. In this episode we see Matt shovel both manure and coal. Wow Matt!

3Final performance night with the Ringling Brothers Circus at Baltimore.

5

trainmasterThese programs are packed with  behind the scenes action. The Trainmaster is  the man who is in charge, as far as this private train goes. The amount of work to prepare and move the circus is formidable. Time constraints add pressure to maintain the schedule. Maintenance and emergency repair tasks can be unexpected. Professionals , the Ringling crew gets it done.

 

upThe night loading includes horses and elephants being loaded. We find an elephant with a mind of its own.

A brief visit to Steamtown is the centerpiece of the historical aspect of the circus train.

This is a fun and informative program. There is quite a bit to see here. We are carrying some livestock. The Ringling Brothers are sidelined for a CSX freight. Decades ago, a circus train with animals would have had priority. Matt misses this point, so you readers are one up on him. Yes, livestock transportation had many rules and could rate higher than even passenger trains! Matt does a great job of telling the stories of circus trains and educating the audience about this one.

pie carWe get back underway and a hungry Matt visits the piecar. Check that tasty looking food.

Another sidebar visit shows the circus mechanics with old car shells that will be rebuilt for the train.

unload

offAs expected, we make it to DC. Now, we need to unload the train. Setup is a huge production.

pusherThis program is fast paced and balances history with the modern era.

walkThe Greatest Show On Earth parades down city streets… Love the elephant walk!

matt bEnjoyable program for all ages. One of the series best episodes.

Rating: 4 Stars

Extreme Trains: Overnight Traveler

Overnight Traveler- Extreme Trains

History Channel

Format:  2 DVD set

 Length: 44 minutes

Locations for episode: Chicago to Seattle.

Source: Extreme Trains- Season One

Host: Matt Bown

Updated and illustrated review.

Here is a single episode from the series called, Extreme Trains. Matt Bown hosted various shows in this set on railroading. A good collection of programs that are fine for beginners. Additional information that sometimes, can keep veteran railfans interested as well.

This is the story of the Amtrak Empire Builder. The modern version of a former Great Northern, premier passenger train. Viewers will experience the trip from, Chicago to destination at Seattle.

215Comprehensive  look at the contemporary era Amtrak passenger train. Coverage that features: equipment, employees, and the journey.

chicago union station tower                                           Chicago Union Station tower view.

james hillA fast-moving and varied presentation.  Historical aspects and modern operation are both well researched. This is very informative and fascinating journey, over a classic train trip. Rich in history with some great scenic vistas! A sidetrip to Steamtown for good measure.

MonocoqueCompare the 4250 horsepower of a single Genesis, to the 1500 hp of a 1950’s EMD F7A.

Mono diagramMatt kicks off the show with a segment on the power for the Empire Builder. Two General Electric Genesis locomotives. The design is called a Monocoque. A single, lightweight shell that mounts to the chassis. The shell is akin to a load bearing aircraft fuselage. Check one of the diagrams shown.

loco pit matt eddieAt the Chicago Amtrak facility. Matt walks with an Inspector, underneath the eleven cars in the inspection pit. Safety is first and foremost. An overview of the preparation for the soon to be outbound train is complete.

conductorThe conductor is ready for an on time departure from Union Station in Chicago.

cabA cab ride contains a discussion on speed and safety features on the locomotive.

snowAnother fun sequence is Matt on a snowmobile, on the original (abandoned) Cascade Tunnel line. The early switchbacks are discussed with some more history of building the line.

cascade tunnelA feature on the 8 mile long Cascade Tunnel is a highlight.

lights

pan

A nicely done program. Good for the whole family. Quite different from the majority of standard train videos. Matt is a lively and hands on type of host. The many tasks that he tries do convey the hard work and care of Amtrak employees.

Rating: 4 Stars