Train Watching in Kansas City

Train Watching in Kansas City (TW18)

John Szwajkart

Format: 2 DVD- R set

Length: 2 1/2 hours

Time Period: Late 1980’s- early 1990’s

Locations: Missouri side + Kansas side

Source: John Szwajkart (video)

Kansas City has historically been a very important hotspot for trains. There are only 2 routes through the city. Combining a central US location with a high concentration of trains, this area is a hotspot for railfans. John Szwajkart took his videos in the late 1980’s and the early 1990’s. He had included a KC tape with his Train Watcher’s Guide to Kansas City.


The timeframe in which this was shot, still shows a nice variety. A big supply of trains, spread across the two DVD’s. Weather conditions vary, and so do the results. The program is action packed! All of the variance makes for interesting trainwatching.


As usual, this production is for hardcore railfans. Other than location graphics, there are no extra features, of any kind at all. No narration, no maps, no sound enhancements etc.. It is a tape to DVD format transfer. The audio is everything that was picked up by the microphone, on location. Wind noise is the most common sound that is present. Train sounds are the actual, environmental sounds, as heard.

Camera shake is also present. This is because the videographer does not use a tripod. It does get distracting at times. A few wait times on approaching trains run too long, and should have been edited. Newer footage looks better than the older video. This is an amateur level of production.

The 1st disc features the Kansas City, Missouri side of the city. The 2nd disc is the Kansas side of the city.


Part 1 runs at 75 minutes. It has the Missouri side of Kansas City.  Santa Fe leads things off with assorted freight moves. Union Pacific and a Gateway Western train enter the proceedings.

Missouri Pacific ‘canary’ UP merger repaints are seen on this disc.


Kansas City Terminal fields some unique looking, customized EMD switchers. Conrail pool power is on some Santa Fe trains. Southern Pacific SD40T with Rio Grande on freight.


Kansas City Southern has it’s white diesels in service. Union Pacific, and some Missouri Pacific engines,put on a good show. Burlington Northern coal trains.


The pace drags a little on Part 1. Things pickup considerably on Part 2.


Part 2 runs at 75 minutes. Features Kansas City, Kansas. Santa Fe is a big player. Classic ATSF cupola cabooses are still in service. Burlington Northern and Southern Pacific. A Norfolk Southern as well. The airhorns reverberate around the area.

Union Pacific crosses on an elevated line. Amtrak also appears on the high line.

Kansas City Southern has a pair of white, SW1500’s on a transfer move. Really, SP and BN have some switcher led trains too. There is a mix of local and through freight road traffic.


An example of a scene with a graphic reads as: UP(MKT)-BN(SLSF) To Paoli. An MKT SD40-2 unit creeps forward…slowly. It is #636 and on the lead,with a lashup of some BN C30-7 units. The unit coal drag passes by. Relocated, this train is seen again. A BN caboose brings up the rear.

By the way, Union Pacific has a pair of GP50 units, one canary, west of KC. Cotton Belt rolls with a doublestack COFC train. More Santa Fe, with additional kodachrome locomotives. Southern Pacific and Cotton Belt units are mixed with Rio Grande locos. A Rio Grande caboose can be found operating. A classic SP bay window caboose is seen. Find an old Rio Grande GP30 in a lashup, on a priority, doublestack move. A long sequence of nonstop action!


This is a good collection of Kansas City area trains. Locations abound, and that keeps the show rolling along. Amateur video for hardcore railfans.

Rating: 2 1/2 Stars

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