Dateline D&H: Binghamton, NY

Dateline D&H: Binghamton, NY

Hopewell Productions

Format: DVD  

Length: 52 minutes

Time Period: August, 1981

Locations: Binghamton, Starrucca Viaduct, Tunkhannock Viaduct, Belden Hill, more..

Sources: Hopewell video crew

We are viewing the Delaware & Hudson circa 1981. This train video was produced in the early years of train videos. While it may not have modern production, this show does have much to offer. It is more for a hardcore railfan now.

I personally, feel it is a largely forgotten program in today’s marketplace. This reviewer will give the show a fair shake, and review the program on its own terms. Ultimately, you must decide if it is to be yours…..

                    D&H freight is upgrade at Belden Hill. This is a choice action location.

                                               Pushers are used on the hill.

Opening monologue gives background on ex: Santa Fe PA’s and the Baldwin Sharks, illustrated with some color slides. The intro didn’t look good then or now. This is our introduction to the relationship between the D&H and the railfan community. Even in August, 1981, there are many rare locomotives to be seen. The railroad also has some interesting operations, which are documented on Dateline.

The video crew has a local, knowledgeable railfan, J.J. Young to guide us around, as we chase freight trains on the D&H. Between the narration, a  little live crosstalk, seeing other railfans, and train crews during the show, at times you’ll feel like you are there with them, as the action unfolds. A few highlights…

East Binghamton Yard: A GE U23B, U33C, and Alco C420 pusher set, rated 7600 horsepower. To Belden Hill: Train BM-1…Two Alco RS36 and two U23B units, are in run8, with 8300hp climbing upgrade. Tunnel, New York. The Alcos emerge and check that black smoke rolling out!

                       A cab ride on #452 passes a small train museum operation.

                                    A light rain adds atmosphere to the action at Owego.

The Mills Job is a local we board. Alco Century C424m #452, and a great sounding Nathan 5 chime horn! It’s cab ride time! We switch at Owego and Conrail EMD’s roll with a freight. You’ll notice some discoloration on your screen, that was caused by the bright headlight of the Century, in the rain. It temporarily burned the pickup tube in the camcorder. Your TV is safe, it will clear.

More big Alco trains. BM-1 with C424m, Rs36, and two RS3m’s. Alcos smoke it uphill. More.

Locomotives and cabooses in a cornucopia of color schemes. Lightning Stripes, Blue and Yellow, a gray scheme, ex:LV, ex:RDG..patch jobs. All kinds of weathering for modelers.

Additional Highlights:  I like the dead stop freight on the grade, that has to get moving. The ex: Lehigh Valley C-420’s head up some trains, in their old colors! Plenty of tunnel and hill scenes. GP39-2 class are the lone EMD’s on the D&H. The Alcos put on a smoky display throughout the show. There is a tricky backing move shown, at East Binghamton, with 80 cars, a tunnel bypass move for high loads. Quick dispatcher visit and his ctc board.

Looking into a setting sun, the train arrives under Starrucca Viaduct.

Perfect train for model railroaders. Two high and wide loads are hauled by the relief crew.

My favorite part. Train BJNX arrives and stops under Starrucca Viaduct. The crew that was able to run on the old Erie, is not qualified to run the D&H line to Nineva. Here comes a crew, rushing to the rescue! Train SU2 with 3 locomotives, 2 hi-cube boxcars and a caboose arrive. They swap trains. BJNX must pull up drop the caboose, and now back the 80 cars under Starrucca Viaduct. Now, they reverse the caboose position, and the train heads north, to Nineva. Great sequence!

Memorable action, as we chase a trio of Alco Century C-424m locomotives with symbol train MB5 on the old Erie trackage. We chase it across the countryside, town to town, at speed. Good chase segment. Nice scene, as the train crosses a bucolic valley…

Special mention of the late, John J. Young Jr. He was a knowledgeable local railfan, that guided the film crew around the area. Nice scene at this post office. Nice tribute.

Quality issues with the picture are numerous. You get the DVD clarity with video flaws from the source tape. There is flickering, there are brief dropouts. Some minor video distortion, at the bottom of the picture, from time to time. The images will darken for a moment. It is like watching a worn vhs tape. Obviously, it could use a remastering someday.

Now, the sound is fine. Live natural sound. The narration is very detailed and interesting. The material is well-organized. The maps are old style paper with a pointer. This was made long before computer graphics were commonplace. They do serve as intended.

The show is shot quite well. It is action packed! This almost all Alco road has the locomotives working hard, around the scenic area.  D&H cabooses, even some red NW, on all trains. It’s all solid freight trains, and plenty of pushers too.

This is rare material and Alcophiles will not be disappointed in the trains. I find it to be an enjoyable train video program. The overall picture quality drops the review ratings.

The action factor of the rare locomotives, on Delaware & Hudson, is what makes it worth viewing. Consider the video quality. Now, you decide if this old train video, is for you.

Rating 3 1/2 Stars

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