Southern Pacific in SE Arizona

Southern Pacific in SE Arizona

Highball Productions

Format: DVD

Length: 75 minutes

Time Period: 1994

Locations: Southeast Arizona

Source: Peter Crook

This show is filmed in the desert, with many Southern Pacific trains, on the Sunset Route. In this time period, there are plenty of solid sets of SP locomotives. Additional run through and leased locomotives add color. COFC and TOFC traffic is prevalent. That’s double-stacks and pigs , in simpler terms. There are still general merchandise freight trains with boxcars to see. The caboose is long gone. The graffiti hasn’t appeared in large numbers. There are some cool old hopper and ballast cars in original SP paint.

The Sonoran Desert is a great place to railfan. It has an openess and large, unobstructed vistas. There aren’t even trees and barns in the rural areas. Mountain backdrops can provide some stunning backgrounds. Telephoto shots can take advantage of all the scenic beauty that is present in Arizona. Modern videography results in clear imagery. We also get natural sound.

So this program has the potential to be a great show.

We have a big supply of trains. The wide selection of motive power keeps the head end interesting. CSX, Santa Fe ( some Kodachromes), Conrail, BN, C&IM, UP and more..

Personally, double stacks and piggyback traffic isn’t interesting to me. Trucks on trains. Yawn. As a reviewer, I have to make allowances for varying trains. I do prefer, general freight trains. Boxcars, old hoppers and beat-up gondolas are more to my taste.

On this program, both types are plentiful. There is a slant towards the COFC/ double stacks. Yes, the height factor and long train can be impressive. You will notice these trains are often shown longer with a better view. That’s fine for those that like this, and no points marked off, because it’s not my preference. However, I do expect equal treatment when my desired trains are on camera. That’s fair.

When the boxcars  show up, the camera is much too tight to the action. If you want to see the roadnames, car types and often even locomotive numbers… you are out of luck. Really, this would have been a modern classic, had the camera been a little distanced to get a good view of the individual cars. This is prevalent throughout. The lone Arizona Eastern train looks interesting but, we don’t get past the power set.  This viewpoint is too bad, as even this timeframe, is now bygone. So, while the quality is great, the choices made do lack.

The show does have good moments. A CSX , SP kodachrome SD40T2 and a grey unit are long shot from a higher elevation. I enjoyed the C&IM SD38 with a Santa Fe B30-7 on a ballast train?  Santa Fe (old warbonnet/ new superfleet) locomotives at speed with a coal train!  CSX and SP locos passing an old, concrete coaling tower!  Mountain backdrops provide stunning scenery. Many trains are on parade, at numerous locations. Other telephoto scenes, of an approaching train, do give a good sense of the vastness in the desert.

Natural sound is very good overall. There are shots with too much wind against the microphone. A little editing would have smoothed this over.

Narration is done well. There is an emphasis on origin and destination, a nice touch. Some callouts have more info, I always like more detail. A narrative sparseness, but the open desert is a sparse place, oddly enough it fits.

If you are seeking a large number of pre merger SP trains in Southeastern Arizona, this does accomplish the task. Just don’t go looking for car numbers, roadnames, or desert weathering on individual cars and many locomotives. This film’s emphasis is on trains as a whole, with some stunning scenic vistas… to host, ‘the train’.

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

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