Alcos in Wisconsin and Michigan

Alcos in Wisconsin and Michigan

John Szwajkart

Format: 2 DVD-R set

Length: 2 hours

Time period: circa 1988

Locations: Green Bay, Escanaba, Marquette, Marinette, and more..

Source: John Szwajkart

MSRP: 40.00

Here is a vintage Alco feature filmed in the late 1980’s. Northern Wisconsin, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, became some of the last stands for the Alcos in the later 1980’s.

Your standard ‘no extras’ JS release. No narrative, maps etc.. Title screens offer small bits, as general location and timeline. No tripod is used. So expect a shaky camera.

It is an amateur level production. Raw video, and whatever the microphone happened to record. This results in an unedited soundtrack of: trains sounds, crossing bells, autos, and background chatter. There is too much wind noise. The lack of a windscreen, is not a good thing. Wind beats on the microphone, the characteristics are not a gentle whoosh as the human ear filters the wind. It is more of a bunch of banging from your speakers, and plays with a harshness.

Despite the shortcomings, at times he does have some rarities. Operations and equipment, that the professionals somehow missed over the years. This is an area where his shows can become more desirable. It can become a choice between having something, or perhaps nothing .

Part 1 GB&W, E&LS

The show begins at Norwood Yard on GBW. An Alco RS3 makes up a boat train.

Boat train leaves Green Bay , enroute to the boat. Train is chased and paced. Pickup made and continues.

At the boat, unloading and loading commence. It is a lengthy process.

Train is chased back to Green Bay. This entire out and back runs about 40 minutes. Interesting the first time around. Not something that I would rewatch anytime soon.

A look at E&LS reveal an old Baldwin diesel.The engine switches and pulls out, headed north.

                                       A long chase and pace sequence ensues.

Much of the view is obscured by trees, undulating terrain and some structures.

Part 2  C&NW, LS&I, E&LS

This begins with a lashup of Alco C-628HH diesels. For those unfamiliar, the Northwestern purchased these locos as used from Norfolk & Western. They were well suited to lugging heavy ore trains. The concentration of one operational area, was more efficient for the mechanical department.

The train is paced. A lightly wooded area much of the time, between road and rails.

Lake Superior & Ishpeming made news when it was operating some ex: Santa Fe Alligators. These RSD-15 models were a sight to see in person. Very long noses and the lengthy trucks gave them a fitting nickname. They are shown in a bright red paint scheme.  Some GE power, and other Alcos, appear in this chapter.

LS&I Alco RSD15

                                             The LS&I is out on the mainline.

                          The C628 as CNW 7210, leads an ore train uphill, and out of Empire Mine.

                 Too many trees to see the train, much of the time on this sequence.

                 Eventually, the loco is in the clear. This pace rates as fair.

A CNW freight heads for Green Bay. Alco C425 #4255 and C628 are on the point. Paced and trackside views. Nice view of the freight cars and caboose, from trackside.

Marinette to see the Escanaba & Lake Superior. Baldwin 202 idles at the old depot. Those old switchers were long lived in shortline service. The horn sure is aloud one. We see the engine navigate the narrow right of way around town.

                                  At Green Bay, an RS3 trundles by the camera.

The camerawork is better from this time period. Steadier hands I suppose. There isn’t as much jarring of the picture. The overall effect is pretty good. Audio isn’t the greatest. Wind noise, crossing gate bells and more, that detract from the show.

Part 1 is a long look at a single GBW train. The Baldwin gets plenty of screentime too. It depends on someone’s interest level of the coverage. Doesn’t seem to be a ‘go to’ disc.

Part 2 is the better half of the set. The CNW C628’s are the heart of the program. The rest of the locomotives do add interest to this disc. Pacing sequences are so-so.

A hardcore train video. Overall, a mixed bag. Good for Alco and Baldwin fans.

Rating: 3  Stars

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