The Lehigh & New England Railroad: Volume 1

The Lehigh & New England Railroad: Volume 1cover

John Pechulis Media

Format: DVD-R

Length: 63 Minutes

Time Period: 1949-1961

Locations: Pen Argyl, Catasauqua, Bethlehem, Allentown

Sources: Charlie and Ken Bealer, Arthur Angstadt, Randolph Kulp (collection)

MSRP: 30.00

The Lehigh & New England was a rarely filmed railroad. To have a complete show from John Pechulis Media, is a compelling reason to view this program. LNE was probably remembered by most for it’s fried egg logo. An attractive paint scheme for the fleet of Alco locomotives is also memorable. Nice scenery and classic structures, are another positive.

As we will see, the LNE is a great railroad, for railfans and model railroaders.

catty

This railroad was out of business in 1961. Safe to say, many viewers will need some historical background.  Operations are another part of the story. Maybe a little bit of steam. Connecting lines would put the railroad in context. Long defunct, Alco is a perfect match too. In a perfect world, railfans can wish for clean film, and in color.

That is a tall order….

5

Start with the usual basics. There is no chapter menu, or chapter search. Maps are included. No previews or extras. Narration and synchronized sound, and some music are the soundtrack. Films are mostly color. Still photos are displayed to augment the storyline. Contains elements of a PBS style show. Single disc, DVD-R, in a sturdy plastic case with nice artwork.

map

The program is organized with a chapter format. Early origins, and chronological progression. Later, the territory being covered is the basis. Various types of maps outline the lines shown. Traditional paper style railroad route maps, and some custom maps. The information and locations are well done.

Three narrators are within this show. John Pechulis is our host.

Mike Bednar is the gravel voiced main narrator. A retired towerman and block operator with Lehigh Valley into Conrail, he offers plenty of first hand knowledge. Occasionally, some words are a bit hard to discern. It’s a trade-off versus a hired performer.

Mike knows the operations as a professional.  He has authored books on anthracite coal roads as well. It is unusual to hear a narrator call the names of the people in the scenes. The show benefits from the insider view of the railroads. The way he discusses a wreck of FA locomotives will enlighten viewers.

Ken Bealer has some commentary, about shooting some scenes with his brother. He was employed as a crew dispatcher by Lehigh Valley, until Conrail discontinued the yard clerk jobs in 1988. Coming from a railroad family, he had been in towers with his father as a boy.

Big news is the production of the source 8mm films. While an average 1950’s era film can have multiple issues, they are the common source for the time period. Color balance, grain, specks, streaks, and a lack of sharpness, can detract from viewing.

John Pechulis has worked some real magic with this rare collection.

To The Trains….

7Picture quality is excellent overall. Scenes like this are stunning! The images are handcrafted. Attention to detail that exceeds the original films. Fantastic results!

catA trio of Alco RS-3 locomotives. The soundtrack is excellent. Burbling engines and single chime 1950’s airhorns. The narrative is the bulk, but the train sounds are sweet.

LV58

A 1958 view of the LNE crossing Lehigh Valley at Catasauqua Tower.

penaPen Argyl was the main facility for LNE.  While the main buildings are all included, this view contains the Alco S-2 switchers. A nice tour has the roundhouse and transfer table.

pen2                                                      LNE FA’s at Pen Argyl.

6XAlthough the paint is deteriorating on some Alco FA’s,  they were still reliable.

LV

Lehigh Valley had success with Alco PA’s in freight service. Here, is where the interchange  yard. Jersey Central, New Jersey Zinc and  Reading, also are seen in cameo roles.

657Check the cameraman at lower right. This is 8mm…. amazing!

cat5AAMike Bednar knows why this scene was filmed after 1958. You will too.

boxSeldom seen, these 40′ boxcars are all-time classics. This frame could make a case for a 3 pack special in HO scale. On the roofwalk, a crewman relays hand signals, no radios!

cabooseThis curve looks tight! Model railroaders often have trackage like this.

The Lehigh & New England Railroad has plenty, for both railfans and model railroaders. A chapter menu would be handy to have. At a minimum, a chapter search should be available. While missing a common DVD chapter standard, it plays like a train video. The show itself is amazing. Contains rarity of subject, and overall excellent quality.

For viewers used to smooth announcers, Mike Bednar may take some getting used to hearing. He knows the material and is an expert on these trains. Where else does the narrator actually know the railroaders in the scenes? He is a good fit for the show.

John Pechulis has produced this high quality program. The LNE certainly had a unique charm. Anyone with an interest in classic trains will find this show enjoyable.

Rating: 5 Stars

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