The Chicago & Illinois Midland- As It Was

The C&IM- As It Was

John Szwajkart

Format: DVD

Length: 1 hour 26 minutes

Time Period: not listed

Locations: Springfield, Havana, Pekin, Powerton, Taylorville

Source: Joe Schwartz

MSRP: 25.00

The Chicago & Illinois Midland was a coal hauling shortline. Commonwealth Edison owned the line and it supplied Edison power plants. Burlington Northern was the coal connecting railroad. C&IM also did some local freight business. The C&IM was past it’s prime and had been sold. A rarely filmed shortline, There is good coverage.  Exterior views, and cab ride footage document a few trains that were active. Cabooses are still in service.

Taylorville to Peoria features a local freight. A rare EMD RS1325 operates on the original mainline. In steam days, the railroad was known for it’s steam locomotives.

Some maps outline the area for the viewer. On screen graphics are used for locations. There is a little narration provided at the head of the chapters. Titles are divide the various train moves.

The show is amateur shot video. Camera shake and live audio, as it occurred. It is raw video. The sound has wind noise, auto traffic and is unprocessed to modern standards. Too much ‘ding-ding’ at a crossing. Good area to add narration. There are some videotape flaws, such as tape errors and a few color balance shots. Everything is watchable, but it would have been an improvement to delete some flaws.

The scenes tend to run too long. Some edits would have given a quicker pace. That being said, this show does present the C&IM. Where else do you find this road covered?

The good news is the opportunity to see Chicago & Illinois Midland in operation. This shows the railroad in it’s entire state at a late date, with subsequent light traffic on the line.

                                This coal train is the centerpiece of the program.

                 We spend alot of time in the cab of an SD38. Runs too long for the most part. Flatland running just isn’t too exciting, as seen here. Engineer’s commentary doesn’t add much. There is much camera shake on the ride. Could be rough track, in any case, the shaking gets to be too much on a television screen.

Two Oakway leased locomotives haul the empty coal cars to the BN at Galesburg.

In summary, the show will satisfy anyone who is interested in C&IM. This program is about the only game in town for this railroad. The maps and narration are nice extras from this producer. The downfall is the extended run time, which gets monotonous. Would have been more effective to cut into a shorter view. The longer length accentuates the amateur level of the production. Less is often more. Could the story have been told in an hour? Yes. Could the audio, video faults and scenes been edited into a tighter, faster paced show? Yes.

Now, you have a straightforward review, don’t get scared off if the show is of interest. Just keep the remote handy, the fast forward button does wonders.

Would have liked to rate it higher, but it just isn’t there.

Rating: 2 1/2 Stars

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