Classic Chicago & North Western- Volume 1: The Alco Line

Classic Chicago & North Western- Volume 1: The Alco Line

C Vision Productions                                             

Format: DVD   

Length: 84 minutes

Time period: 1977- 1981

Locations: Winona, MN. to Pierre, SD line and branhlines

Source: Fred Crissey

MSRP: 29.95

 Rare Alco locomotives are the main event on this DVD. The Alco locomotives were concentrated in the area for working lightweight rail on the CNW branchlines. The location of these locomotives in the area, was also suitable for stocking parts, from this builder.

Fred Crissey was there to film this late chapter of operating Alcos on the Chicago & Northwestern. Some camera shake appears too often. Film and composition range from fair to good. This show centers on chasing these trains across the countryside. The sum total is an amateur shot film collection of rare CNW Alco action.

                    There are plenty of winter scenes, with snow on the ground.

There is a detailed chapter menu. Sorted by location, an effective way to navigate the show. A few basic maps illustrate the lines. Numerous location graphics are good.

 For the uninitiated, American Locomotive Company from Schenectady NY is the featured builder. Since EMD of LaGrange, Ill. was the number one standard of choice. Alco fleets were often concentrated to have parts and maintenance personnel close at hand. This move to standardization left minor builders out in the cold for the most part. Most major US railroads had standardized on EMD and also General Electric power. Standardization was a later concept. In the early years of dieselization, just getting power was the priority.

This is an interesting assortment of Alco products. Models seen: C425, RS2, RSD4/5 and RS32. Electromotive checks in with SD7- R and SD9 engines. The SD7 are chop-nose rebuilds. They were the fading Alco replacements being phased into service the area.

There are a variety of C&NW Alco led freights. Some lengthy segments with the same train. The majority have three or more units. These lash-ups have multiple models. Slight paint variations ex: Chevron stripes on ends, yellow wrap around on an SD7.

Action is a mixture of rural road trains and locals. A big city is nowhere to be found. This is grain elevator switching. Cool, for a granger with its branchline operations intact. There are some of those wonderful, old 40′ boxcars in this show. Many forty footers ended their careers in grain service. Sadly, cabooses are rarely seen throughout this program.

A favorite sequence is the chase behind an SD7-R, GP9 and RSD5 on a local, across part of rural Minnesota. Liked sitting at the dirt road crossing in that set too. Rural!

The narration is rather sparse. I don’t expect a wealth of detailed train information. It would be desirable then, to hear more about the towns, the year. locomotive or some roster highlights. The RS3 road slug conversions would be perfect for discussion. A Baldwin switcher gets the narration I am seeking. Watch for that moment, and see if you prefer that style too. Acoustic guitar music is the main soundtrack.

Railfans and modelers will have a field day with all of this old and weathered equipment. The rarity of the equipment should appeal to nearly all railfans.  This is an enjoyable Volume One CNW program. If you are a hardcore fan of the Chicago & North Western or Alcos, it is a good one to obtain.

Rating 3 stars

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