Length: 2 hours (80 minute feature+ bonus)
Time Period: 1920’s- Present
Locations: Rutland, Danby, Manchester, Arlington, Shaftsbury, Wallingford, East Dorset, Arlington, North Bennington, and more..
Sources: Ray Haseltine (1920’s-1940’s), Philip R. Jordan (1960’s-1970’s), Gardner Caverly (coal tower demolition + more) James R. Jones (present day video)
Producer: James R. Jones
I was seeking some Northeastern railroading for ATVR. Found Tell-Tale Productions from Colchester, Vermont. They have northeastern titles, and a catalog that offers more areas. Have a show on Colorado in an upcoming review. The Colorado Covered Volume 3, is in a more traditional style and has much to offer. See, there are traditional style shows and more artistic, documentaries from Tell-Tale. They are long running programs. Professional.
Producer James Jones has an entertainment background. Was curious to get a look at some of his programs. This show is the first of some from Tell-Tale. Their website is on Featured Links.
This style is in a PBS style,documentary fashion. We will be viewing the present day Vermont Railway, or VTR, as it is now known. Looking back at a wealth of history on Rutland Railroad. We begin in Rutland, VT. Travel by rail and visit the surrounding area, on a journey to North Bennington, VT.
There is an unusual style of narrative. Rather than have a single narrator, a sizeable number of interviews are used. The commentary is smoothly edited into a single, cohesive storyline. Sometimes, the voices change and the story continues, uninterrupted!
Everyone is friendly. They have a great deal of experiences, and knowledge to share.
James Jones, the personable main narrator, offers additional information as needed.
Vermont Railway and Green Mountain are seen in contemporary action. Viewing trains running past the camera, is not the main focus here. Now, keep reading!
On the other hand, there is a large chunk of time spent in cab rides! The pretty countryside makes for compelling locomotive riding in Vermont. A red Vermont GP18 is one vantage point. A Vermont GP38 also gives the fireman’s seat to us.
These cab rides are natural audio sounds, and not narrated segments. On-screen graphics have location and milepost data. Exterior shots of the trains and the scenes, complete our perspective These sequences are charming.
A bonus section is included. Thirty minutes of a little vintage film and mostly contemporary video from 1929-1999. The brief b&w of old Rutland, a modern-day steam excursion and some more Vermont Railway. Another opportunity to get a cab ride, this time, on a Green Mountain locomotive. More extras include commentary from James Jones. Quotes contains extra interviews.
Maybe some of this is covered in earlier volumes.Railfans will be seeking more detail on locomotive types, and basic information throughout. I would have liked an understanding of Vermont Railway versus Green Mountain. What is B&R? What is The Flyer? Make that Flyers. Is this the mainline, or a branchline? What’s up with the blue engine? Many viewers will be unfamiliar with the local area. The premise of this show, seems based on some familiarity with, the Rutland and Vermont. That being said, watch this show anyway…
The shows real power is in the historical aspects of the Rutland Railroad . James has assembled many various commentators. Authors, employees, management,historians, photographers, local residents, and even a former Governor. Truly, a fascinating cast to hear.
Noted author and photographer, Jim Shaugnessy, is one of the most widely known. Former Vermont Governor, Phil Hoff led the battle to have the state purchase the abandoned Rutland trackage and find an operator. Philip Jordan has supplied some film and photos, along with insightful commentary. FYI- Ray Haseltine, in the photo credits, was a Rutland engineer, from the 1920’s to 1950’s.
A mixture of: film, video, still photos, and historical artifacts are used to tie the story together. Adding to the experience of traveling the line, segments on many of the old towns. Stations, historical buildings, and plenty of background add interest. The old photos are a treat, and nice comparison to the present day.
Some old black & white movies provide a backdrop for talk of the original Rutland. Late to dieselize, Rutland was run with some ancient equipment, before modernizing.
Another discussion, centers around the end times for the railroad. Assorted rare union artifacts are intriguing to see. Labor strikes, decline of online shippers, and reduced traffic, are some of the factors considered. The President of Rutland had his solution. That was to seek abandonment. Rutland closed in 1961.
Vermont Railway start-up in 1963. Updates to present day. We learn about VTR and Rutland facilities there. There are some patched paint, VTR renumbered diesels. Appears to be former: Canadian National, Helm Leasing, Guilford and some others.. unidentified.
The commentary is much more involved, then I will communicate in this format. This review just hits some general points of interest.
We traverse the old Rutland line from Rutland to North Bennington. The cab rides transport us from town to town. There are many stops and a boxcars worth of historical information. A basic paper map shows the towns. This map is not comparable to modern shows. An upgraded map would better convey the scale and scope of the line. A railroad system route map would also, greatly improve the overall perspective. These maps would enhance this program. Just felt slightly lost on the unfamiliar territory.
Trains move at slower speeds along the single track. Scenic wooded areas and a relaxed atmosphere.
Each of the rural towns has its tale to tell. No pun intended. Whether the station, a mill, a creamery, or old homes, there is always something.
The storytelling is consistently solid. Here, there is detail and background, on a wide variety of the local subjects. This is the heartbeat of the program. Very well done!
Some surprises were; marble quarries, and a brief piece on a logging line!
By the way, the video imagery is excellent, and has nicely shot scenes. Audio is very clear. Multiple trains with an array of viewpoints, all in beautiful Vermont!
The train portions have natural sounds and no narration. Same on the cab rides. This is an effective counterpoint to the narrative.
Returning to the narrative. This gives a personal perspective from the people. I did get a good feel of the area and some of its personality. This is a result of the producer. Mr. Jones has handcrafted this program.
This is a good one for the whole family. Another PBS style show, that women will like viewing. All will enjoy the ride on the old Rutland, in the locomotive cab segments.
This is a professional and enjoyable production. This show has a unique warmth of its own. Rather then just show us a bunch of steel, James has chosen to give us some of that, and add a plethora of persona. After visiting the area, I am charmed.
Rating: 4 Stars