The Santa Fe – Chicago to Joliet

The Santa Fe – Chicago to Joliet  (TW81)

John Szwajkart

Format: 2 DVD

Length: 3 hours

Time Period: 1990’s (more or less)

Locations: Joliet Union Station, McCook, Lemont, Willow Springs, Hodgkins…

Source: John Szwajkart

The Santa Fe line running in a southwesterly direction from Chicago to Joliet, Illinois. This has traditionally been both a busy and an interesting route to watch. Much of this video seems to have been done in the 1990’s. While not a classic era with levels of higher interest. There is a ton of modern ATSF and even some BNSF action. Amtrak runs trains over this trackage as well.

John Szwajkart prefers a highly mobile video setup. His needs include fast setups and breakdowns while chasing trains. The handheld shots are this videographers preferred choice. It can take a little adjustment, as one gets used to the extra camera shakes. This is the main reason that these are recommended for the hardcore railfan. They would rather have this no frills style of show, then the alternative of no show available. That is a valid viewpoint.

The show is completely watchable. Directly transferred to DVD format with no digital enhancements to the source tape. Like the other shows that I have seen, some tape errors are present. The audio is 100% natural environmental sound. What is heard, is what was there. The windy city adds some wind noise to the microphone. Other ambient sounds such as background voices, automobiles and wild birds add to the audio mix. Train sounds dominate the show, as they should.

The locations and some time references (ex: post merger) are seen on some blue screens. There is a chapter menu included.

This is a lengthy pair of discs. There is much coverage of the given route. Joliet in particular, gets extended time on the 2nd disc.

Disc One is Chicago to Lemont. Corwith Yard lead tracks cross the busy I-55 as briefly seen. Was expecting more depth at Corwith. Some business cars can be viewed behind Superfleet power. A few unrepainted Kodachrome engines appear. Sharp eyes will notice an occasional caboose. Other trains with: Soo, CNW,  IHB and Norfolk Southern power. Action continues through McCook, Hodgkins, Willow Springs to the outer Lemont area.

The 90 minute 2nd disc begins at Lemont. The part of the oil refineries are located in Romeoville. Lockport and onward to Joliet Union Station. The rest of the show is centered from there.

There are a seemingly endless amount of Santa Fe trains. Amtrak makes multiple appearances. Iowa Interstate is the surprise, as it crosses the ATSF at Joliet. That would be the former Rock Island line going to Blue Island. Don’t forget Metra.

As was normal for this later era version of ATSF and BNSF, the intermodal traffic is the road’s meat and potatoes. Really, this era, is not my cup of tea. TOFC and COFC doublestacks never were very interesting to me. However, as a reviewer, here you go.

It’s a big world, and if you like this intermodal traffic, you do get a huge supply of it here.

This show is geared for the modern era, hardcore railfan. You know who you are, and if this show, calls your name. John Szwajkart delivers as he has advertised. Modern era Santa Fe and some various BNSF on this specific route.

Rating: 3 Stars

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