Steam Over Tennessee Pass

Steam Over Tennessee Pass cover

Pentrex

Length: 90 minutes

Time Period: 1997

Locations: Royal Gorge, Soldier Summit, Glenwood Canyon

MSRP: 29.95

 

UP 844 stars in what is now an older excursion video. A three day trip is featured here. Takes place in Colorado during 1997. Denver to Salt Lake City is the route.

Steve Lee is one of the engineers present. He ran the railroad steam program. A trio of Electromotive E8 locomotives run behind the big Northern. Matching passenger cars form a long train. This was rare track age for a passenger special.

summit tp

Pentrex employed five camera crews for the trip. The choice of multiple shots results in high quality viewing. The full narrative is informative, though not very engaging. Live sound rounds out the audio. Some very simple maps are useful to envision the route. On-screen graphics contain additional location information.

map day 2

Basic maps lack detail. They do illustrate the lines traveled.

royal gorge

Day 1 begins at Denver Union Station. Favorable weather conditions.

red cliff

Day 2 has the best of the scenic locations. Leaving Colorado Springs the train journeys towards Royal Gorge. Salida to Tennessee Pass are on the agenda. Minturn is another renowned area.

river

Day 3 is Grand Jct, to Salt Lake City. Soldier Summit is the highlight, as the train crosses Utah.

rafters

Effective intermingling of onboard train camera gives a feel of riding this special.

too far

One shortcoming is too much distance on some scenic shots. In fairness, the scope of the geography sometimes precludes this. There are too many far views of the train.

The glut of 844 centered shows can make the locations a deciding factor to purchase. Colorado has some spectacular scenery. Fans of 844 should be satisfied with this program.

Rating: 4 Stars

Rock Island: The Rockets Defy Discontinuance

 cvrRock Island: The Rockets Defy Discontinuance

Green Frog Productions

Length: 63 minutes

Time Period: 1970’s

Locations: Chicago area, Bureau Jct. and more.

Source: Roger M. Koenig

MSRP:29.95

The Rock Island passenger trains of the 1970’s are the story. American railroad passenger service had peaked during the 1950’s. Air travel, automobiles and the interstate highway system, had changed the way we traveled. Consolidation to Amtrak was the national solution to ever declining ridership on the rails.

652

Rock Island chose to continue operating their passenger trains. Named trains such as The Quad Cities Rocket, still served from Chicago LaSalle Street Station. That structure’s deterioration had mirrored the state of the railroad. Both well past their prime.

peorian end                       The Peorian was down to 2 cars, just prior to discontinuance.

Roger Koenig filmed much of the Rock Island. Using Super 8mm color, with sound he recorded the final years of those trains. The collection of his films is focused on those last Rockets and local Rock commuter service in Chicago area. Metra takes over the locals.

quad cities 78                                                     Quad Cities Rocket in 1978.

These recent Green Frog releases offer on/off narration. Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound. Chapter search function that allows easy access to favorite scenes. It will play Widescreen. Nice features to have on this DVD. Green Frog has it in a sturdy, plastic case.

1977 peorianImage and these original films are problematic, on this release. Many variations in lighting within individual scenes. Other times the camera jerks around. As far as riding some passenger trains, the rough track is the culprit. Pacing scenes vary. Other shots where the composition is lacking. Overall, a noticeable percentage has camera or film issues. Looks like most of the Koenig’s best films have already appeared, in earlier volumes.

The audio is lively. The natural sound was recorded via camera microphone.

Peter Youngblood narrates a well written script. Informative concerning the happenings on the Rock Island at the time. A few times he erroneously identifies the 1920 era coaches as gray ones. Actually, they were dark green. Otherwise, the locations, trains and years are looked after consistently. The extra information about the railroad maintains interest. The actual trains do get somewhat repetitive. Such is the case, with passenger based programs.

lasalleThe first third of this show is at LaSalle Street Station. Many commuter moves behind a plethora of old and recent equipment. For those who never saw this in the era, quite a treat.

e7e8A rolling museum. The E7/ E8 locomotives with a consist of 1930’s era passenger cars on a daily commuter train in 1977. Plenty of variety at LaSalle Station. Best chapter is here.

2f40Contrast that with two new F40 engines pulling modern double deckers on the same day.

652a                                 The Bicentennial E8 leads The Quad Cities Rocket.

Bureau Jct. is the alternate main location. The openness of the country area allows better photography of the trains.

metra 112 79This cameraman did get out in all kinds of weather. Hardy Chicagoans will often brave below zero temperatures vs. staying indoors for months, waiting for a nice day. Look at all of the frozen scenes. Many move to warmer climates!

cabFreight trains make a few cameo appearances. This is a passenger train show.

Rock Island: The Rockets Defy Discontinuance. The program does exactly as advertised. See the last couple of years for Rock Island passenger service. Actual film collection is a step down from previous volumes. Looks like an assortment of outtakes. However, the professional production elevates the overall show. Good for what it is. Just a little rougher to watch. Rock fans should enjoy this. Others will find a good, if somewhat flawed show.

Rating: 3 Stars

Railfanning the Delaware and Hudson- Volume One

Railfanning the Delaware and Hudson- Volume Onecover

John Pechulis Media

Length: 72 minutes

Time Period: 1979-1981

Locations: Binghamton, Starucca Viaduct, Ninevah,Lanesboro, Mechanicville Yard..

Source: Paul Cooledge

MSRP: 29.95

Delaware and Hudson Railroad. Featured on the Susquehanna and Penn Divisions. The Conrail Southern Tier is included. March 1979 to October 1981 is the timeframe. Oneonta Yard is the home base of this show. Much action is centered from this location.

7619This was filmed on Super 8mm film, with sound. Most of the footage looks excellent. Sometimes the lighting is not the best. Colors are generally accurate. The few John Pechulis productions reviewed here all have strong film quality. His shows do excel in the visual department. Needs to raise the audio half of the equation. That would be, a good script and narrative. Also, attention to background noise management.

7320

As with another JPM show, this has very limited narration. A commentary credit listed proves accurate. The voiceover is only present near the beginning of the program. Just some random comments for the first 15 minutes. After that, almost non existent for the remainder. A true loss for the viewers. Safe to say, many railfans gave never been near the DH, let alone around 1980.

bxOn screen graphics are always used to denote locations. This serves adequately, much of the time. Other instances such as ‘rescue helpers’ to retrieve a stalled train call for more detail. The scenes are usually very brief. We jump from place to place. Plenty of action for certain. The hopping around feels like a bunch of endless runbys. This is where a narrative can tie scenes together, to smooth out a show.

7405

The operations and equipment are very engaging. DH is now using plenty of EMD GP39-2 locomotives. Age is catching up to the vintage Alco diesel fleet. There are remaining RS and some Century class still in service. They don’t seem to be first choice for road assignments.

7408

Former Reading and Lehigh Valley locomotives are units transferred to D&H. This was related to the formation of Conrail. D&H had received trackage and/ or trackage rights to offer competition to Conrail. None of this is discussed in this show. Glaring omissions. A single stab at a map reference proves useless.

cr3164Conrail trains are seen on the Conrail Southern Tier. D&H trains were sometimes detoured on the Conrail line.

1795Norfolk and Western has many of their locomotives on DH trains. They can lead as well as follow on the lash ups. In fact, NW cabooses are just as likely as DH ones on freights. Why all the NW equipment in use here? Again, no answers are provided.

starStarrucca Viaduct. Commentary states these engines are running around their train. To push the freight onto the Conrail track. DH helpers arrive from the Conrail main. A detour move. Not stated, but possible. This DH crew was not qualified to operate on the Conrail trackage.

bmBoston and Maine at Mechanicville Yard is visited late in the show. Interchange with DH there.

5016

The show really makes a case for the importance of including professional audio. Here,it is mostly the live microphone. In fairness. the chance to just listen to the old Alcos is great. Most of the time, it is standard EMD power. Very familiar and nothing special. Half heard background voices do not help. Without narration, viewers are watching edited, raw footage.

cab

In the end, it is a good collection of largely, random shots. Handful of amateur feeling scenes; of pacing and cab rides. A solid narrative would have raised the rating dramatically. Viewers are left with a bunch of unanswered questions. Recommended only for hardcore railfans. They can best live with no extra information. Everyone else will probably be a little bit confused.

The total. Good looking show with graphics for locations. Raw sound and almost zero extras. Rates a half star up for coverage of a somewhat uncommon railroad.

Rating: 3 Stars

Steam Specials And Passenger Extras In 2014

Steam Specials And Passenger Extras In 2014 Steam Specials And Passenger Extras 2014. jpg

Diverging Clear Productions

Length: 90 minutes

Time Period: 2014

Locations: See text.

Sources: Mary McPherson, Kurt Jensen

MSRP:

A highlight program by Diverging Clear for 2014. The recent releases from this producer have made serious progress, in the overall quality of their shows. Within today’s rather limited environment for content, museum type operations still provide opportunities for railfans to enjoy some classics. Steam era equipment recorded with modern technology. It can be enjoyable to witness vintage steam locomotives, with current picture and sound.

Something that is advantageous to a compilation, is a more concise schedule. Here, viewers proceed immediately to the action sequences. Kurt Jensen performs his usual fine narrative.

4501Cinematography is nicely done . Steady and smooth camerawork. Notice how modern vehicles. structures and most everything, clashes with the vintage power. The best scenes are in the wild. Let’s take a look at some highlights.

8099 chattSouthern 630 was sidelined for our first excursion. Southern 8099 pinch hit for the steamer. In heritage paint, the modern diesel looks resplendent in Southern green attire. Multiple outings behind 8099. Excellent videography, it plays out about the same as if an E8 was on the point. Traversing the famous Rathole Division Although the diesel can’t compare to steam, it is included here. A definite highlight. Remember, the title says: And Passenger Extras.

pm1225 sunPere Marquette 1225 is a Lima built Berkshire. Nice history of the design, with some historical film. In service at Train Expo in 2014. Overcast skies clear on day two. Day three contains an alternate steam whistle. That whistle blows.

mapThe map references are displayed at just the right moment.

nkp765

Nickel Plate 765 shows up at Train Expo. The 765 is a great engine. Though it is a very common modern day subject. As the two Berkshires are so similar, it may have been better to put a little space between these engines. Plays too repetitive, when shown back to back.

lr 110Train Expo also yields some smaller steam power. Little River 110 is present.

401 2Southern Railway 401 is seen at Monticello. The DCP camera is busy exploring new angles.

cn 6789Canadian National FP4A 6789 headlines, while Wabash F7 is out being serviced.

cn cabTake a cab ride in the Alco CN 6789 diesel at Monticello. Would have liked a few comments from the engineer. Maybe he is too busy at this time. An inserted voiceover with difference of running Alco vs, EMD would be interesting to hear.

sou4501

Southern 4501 is a Mikado from 1911. This locomotive ran excursions from Chattanooga.

8099 bridgeAfter watching the well filmed 8099 excursion, a reality check. A diesel is a diesel.

pm1225 xing                   Another reality. A working steam locomotive is hard to beat.

 

The year 2014 by Diverging Clear, is what you get in this show. Everything is nicely presented. Steam fans should find this assembly to have handy on a single disc. The early and current diesels create a show with a bit of something for all.

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

The Golden Twilight of Postwar Steam Vol.4

The Golden Twilight of Postwar Steam Vol.4 PostwarSteam_Pt4_DVD

Green Frog Productions

Length: 51 minutes

Time Period: 1940’s- 1950

Locations: Putnam/ Harlem NYC, NYO&W

Source: Frank W. Schlegel

MSRP: 29.98

A fascinating series continues in a 4th volume. Featuring the rare New York Central Putnam Division, from the late 1940’s. The NYC Harlem Division is also included in this show. It is Ten Wheeler heaven for those so inclined. Another co-star is the New York, Ontario & Western. NYO&W contains the ultra rare content.

1234 highbridge

Frank Schlegel was the Cinematographer for this collection of films. He had good proficiency with a movie camera. Much of the footage is black and white. Some pieces are color. Quality ranges from fair, to a majority of very good. Nice composition skills. In fact, for the era, an excellent selection of viewpoints. Much more than a series of runbys. Viewers will: ride trains, front end shot scenes, rear facing and some panoramic  frames. Steam engines are the star. A handful of early diesels. Yet, there are plenty of people and structures.

east viewColor film comes later. This Ten Wheeler leads a passenger move, perhaps at East View.

Harlem Division is the mainline New York Central that we are accustomed to seeing.

What is the oldest bridge in New York City, that connects 2 boroughs? Hint, it is not the Brooklyn Bridge. See the picture below.

croton aqueductVariation is a hallmark of these films. An m.u. ride yields a terrific scene at High Bridge. Part of the old Croton Aqueduct. Completed in 1842, the system carried fresh water by gravity, over 40 miles to New York City. A walkway on the top connects the Bronx and Manhattan.

Professional production in all aspects. Full narration. Appropriate soundtrack with well balanced levels. Smooth editing and best possible picture from the old films. An extremely detailed chapter menu. Unique, is a motion map of the territory. Switchable on/off narration.

 

1238 bronx1The Bronx, New York. Even in the late 1940’s, the endless high rise apartments are imposing.

The New York Central Putnam Division no longer exists. In this program, the line gets a basic tour. Station stops and travel the trackage. A well written script is informative. The show is fast paced. A multitude of vintage scenes

mt hope1Mount Hope is a contrast to the big city. Believed to be the hometown of Mr. Schlegel. By the way, model railroaders can have a field day with the plethora of railroad structures. Check this walkover passenger bridge for example.

5456 j2 hudson putnam jctPutnam Junction appears to have been a busy facility. A J2 class Hudson trundles slowly. This 5456 was finishing it’s career on the Putnam Division.

safety bridge                                         Is this scene a time portal or what?

white plainsOver at White Plains. One never knew what power was going to show up next.

conductorAs much as railroading has changed, some jobs are timeless.

 

New York, Ontario & Western is a major rarity to see in operation. That it is a feature here, is worth the price of admission. There is even some color film too. Viewers will experience some traveling on the OW. Stations and other points of interest make this a singular trip in time to the long abandoned railroad. The ‘Old Woman’ was closed in 1957. You do the math.

405Custom streamlined by a famed designer, the 405 is a sharp looker.

455 youngs gap                    Mountain type 455, bears down with a freight at Young’s Gap.

cn tower ordersA tour of the line is great. Begins at New York Central Ferry at Manhattan. Our train stops as the conductor receives orders for operation on the NYO&W. CN tower is this location.

stationRiding the mostly single track OW line has a much different feel from the sophisticated New York Central. Even in the 40’s, this road seems to fit one of the nicknames- ‘old and weary’.

y2 mountain 1947                     A 1947 chartered excursion looks glorious in color.

ft setAs the timeline progresses, Electromotive FT diesels appear. This FT ABBA set looks stunning, compared to the all black locomotives of the steam days.

Always prefer to close a review with a caboose. In this case, 2 railroads call for a pair!

nw2 122As the end came in the diesel era for the NYO&W, It is fitting to close with a colorful scene with this NW2 switcher.

local

New York Central was a cutting edge railroad in it’s prime. At the end of the day, the NYC crews were probably just as exhausted as their NYO&W counterparts. Yes, even on the Putnam Division.

The Golden Twilight of Postwar Steam Vol.4. Green Frog has produced an outstanding steam era trip back in time. A multitude of rarities make this a must have for railfans and model railroaders. Highly recommended to all train lovers.

Rating: 5 Stars