Southern 4501 to Summerville

Southern 4501 to Summerville$_57

Diverging Clear Productions

Length 80 minutes

Time Period: 2014.

Locations: Chattanooga, TN to Summerville, GA

Cameras: McPherson, Jensen, Redmond, Dunn

Producer: Mary McPherson

MSRP: 20.00

2015 release


Ever the busy producer, Mary McPherson has a current release with Southern 4501.  The star of this show is the famous 4501.  DCP draws footage from 4 videographers. Many runbys that showcase the 1911 built Mikado hauling passenger excursions in 2014. Plenty of steam shrouded mood shots add some variety.


Kurt Jensen narrates with his relaxed style


Informative background chapter with history of related Southern Railway steam. Includes some additional Southern steamers. Older video has the 4501 from an earlier time.


2015-09-07_232207                                                 Early morning action.


2015-09-07_231853                       Doubleheader with a Tennessee Valley Consolidation.

2015-09-07_232515                                                       On the turntable.



The narrative completes. Viewers are left with plenty of natural steam action. Graphics denote locations.2015-09-07_233017

Southern 4501 To Summerville is about what one would expect. Contemporary action of a vintage steam locomotive. The program plays fine. Railfans should find this a good release.

Rating: 3 Stars


Steam Over Tennessee Pass

Steam Over Tennessee Pass cover


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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