Mainline USA

Mainline USACapture

Association of American Railroads

Format: DVD-R , VHS

Length: 20 minutes

Time Period: 1957

Locations: USA.. of course!

Source: Edwin Olsen

Promotional tape produced by the AAR in 1957. All color film. An early documentary style. This looks very good, considering the time it was made. The show doesn’t have the amount of train action, that you would expect. The main focus, is how the railroad serves the nation and you. It is very dated, as expected. These old films weren’t made for the railfan. I don’t believe, the word railfan, even existed in 1957. I wouldn’t be surprised, to see Lassie run across the screen, and rescue a cat from an oncoming train. That would beat; looking at loaves of bread, or a field of wheat, or the truck that hauls the bread, wheat.. whatever. It’s not real corny, like some others of the time.


What about the trains? They are in the mix of the nation at work. Seen whizzing by: Pennsylvania Baldwin Sharks, Northern Pacific F7’s, Santa Fe F3’s, Great Northern FT’s, Southern Pacific F7’s. More Alco’s and Baldwins , but little more then glances. Passenger trains aka.. Modern Streamliners with: E8/E class, action from Rock Island, Lackawanna, Burlington Route, Chicago and Northwestern. Nice shots aboard a modern domeliner equipped train. What ? No Cary Grant? Not a complaint, but a compliment to the film quality.

ctcVintage 1950’s CTC at a large Railyard. Appears to be Santa Fe Railway.


American Industry gets it’s plugs too. Coal, copper, iron, cotton , cows all are here. Notice the smokestacks, from a time when America was a manufacturer to the world. All those grimy smokestacks meant … jobs.


The railroad segments included are the best part of the program. I like the hump yard visit. Love those steam era boxcars! Looks like it’s out west, maybe an ATSF modern facility.


Various freight operations, icing reefers, early piggyback- with Illinois Central.. and surprise for ’57.. Early containers on Rock Island!


Is your favorite railroad within the program? They do show many roads. Some others are: Wabash, Southern Pacific, Frisco, L&N, New York Central, Santa Fe Warbonnet, Seaboard, and yes… they make you wait for it….. Union Pacific.


So, is this worth acquiring? Yes, if you enjoy 1950’s railroading, there are some things to see. It is decent narration, and music that is scored to the film. No natural sound. It looks good and really captures the time it was filmed. Only 20 minutes long, and it doesn’t really have many trains, until the second half. Still.. I would like to see those Rock Island containers again .

Rating 3 Stars


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