About William J. Hudson

I am a creative person. Writing is enjoyable. There are my current internet features. Wordsmith United is the newest. American Train Video Reviews is worldwide, . A musician for many years. Guitar is my main instrument. Enjoy bass playing .Rock and Blues styles. I love to have some laughs. People think that I am hilarious, and I remain clueless as to why... :) There is much of me within my sites. There is much more that is missing too. I hope that everyone enjoys the material.

Vignettes of the Burlington Northern, Volume 3

vignettes-of-the-burlington-northern-volume-3-dvd-2

Producer: Clear Block

Timeframe: 1950’s- 1970’s

Locations: Washington, Montana

Sources: Ken Bealer, William P. Price

Length: 60 minutes

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Burlington Northern Volume 3. The 1970’s BN. Contains introduction pre-merger film of: CB&Q, GN and NP. On paper, this one appears to be a big winner for Hill lines enthisiausiats.

Keep in mind. Clear Block Productions have proven to be inconsistent to me. They always talk a great game. Read on.

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Program opens strong with some, hard to find vintage Burlington Route. End credits list William P. Price as a film source. I would bet, this was his film.

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Great Northern is present, as well. A good shot here. Weak overall, inclusion for GN material.

This pre-merger section is the worthwhile portion of the video. Lack of a descriptive narration keeps it second rate.

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Northern Pacific checks-in. A nice chunk of steam and diesel. Uh-oh. Here we go again! Solar flares (not). Familiar red/ yellow flaring , as seen in previous B&O Vignettes. Thanks Clear Block! More like Mud block in this case…
Well… That film is pretty old. Things should greatly improve on the newer 1970’s Burlington Northern film. Right?

Narration is very sparse on this show. My guess is the original notes, had little more then, general location and date. Nothing more is usually offered for the rest. Except the source. Ken Bealer. Have seen his name elsewhere. Doesn’t ring a bell. Certainly, not a negative one.

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Truth be told. Another train in the rain.  These scenes appear to be a collection of outtakes. They look like remainders or rejects. They are pretty poor overall. I am extremely dissappointed in this DVD. I can’t believe this is out there, for sale!

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Likely, this program could have been significantly improved, via some basic, post- production work. Contrast, color balance, brightness etc…

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Too many scenes are washed out. Others have way too much sunlight bouncing off the train.

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Oddly enough. This show uses more maps and on-screen graphics! Even a rudimentary chapter menu. As if to try and polish the show up a little bit towards respectability.

The actual train edits are rough around the edges. Quick cuts that seldom allow a viewer to see a boxcar. Often, the edits are jarring. It gets tedious.

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Color balance is generally close to non- existent. Those bright and bold colors, of the 1970’s are shadows, of what they should be on the screen.

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Most of the Vancouver shots are in rain. Too much of that! Sloppy presentation.

Live audio is really good in some scenes. Not enough to save this show.

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Another observation regarding the editing decisions. Boring, same looking Amtrak consists are shown in their entirety. Feels like the filler that it is used for.

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It is the bootleg quality presentation that ruins the enjoyment. Nice train Clear Block! Much of this show is nearly unwatchable!

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I came here for BN freight. Hump yard gives a few box cars, at this distance. Little else for Model Railroaders. Pass on this one.

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1979 was the year that Bealer went in search of still operating F units. One of the best looking scenes is this one. Rare in this show. Not all that great either.

Yakima Valley receives a very brief visit. This one minute looks good. I came for Burlington Northern… Why does this BN often look so crappy?

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No way does this one receive a good recommendation.
If you are interested in a good, informative vintage focused Burlington Northern program. Forget this waste.
I normally do not do this…
However. Clear Block just wasted my money, time and effort. I will save you time, effort and your own money!

Just order the quality Burlington Northern: Charles Smiley Presents- Empire of the North. You may find this one and can be happy. Life is too short.

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Vignettes of the Burlington Northern Volume 3.

Save your money on this dumb, overblown release.

Junk in the Trunk!!
Rating: 2 Stars

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Vignettes of the Baltimore and Ohio, Volume 4

Vignettes of the Baltimore and Ohio, Volume 4

 

download

Clear Block Productions

Producer: Todd Miller

Timeframe : 1955- 1965

Locations: Cumberland, Grafton, Sand Patch, Meyersdale

Source: William P. Price

Length: 52 minutes

Released: 2004

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This Volume 4 focus is on the West End. Locomotives contained are; later steam and a plethora of diesel action. Second generation diesels are now present, in the form of GP30 and GP35 power. Multiple B&O paint schemes on the blue locomotives. C&O engines appear post 1964 merger.

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Once again. This show has all color film. Everything was nicely shot by Wm. Price. Live sound from multiple sources that adds interest.

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Clear Block is light on extras. No maps are contained within the program. A disappointment, as this was on Volume 3. No chapter menu included either.

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Everything bounces around quickly! Diesel to steam. Early diesel to later power. An EM-1 smokes heavy, as it starts uphill with a coal trail.

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Helpers can be steam or diesel.

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Call it the luck of the draw. Price was trackside, when the short-lived sunburst paint scheme, was being used. Brand new, Jersey Central, Electromotive diesels enroute from the LaGrange factory.

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Newer GP30 units, in factory Sunburst paint. These are nearly impossible to find on vintage film. Let alone in any quantity. Plentiful here!

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Steam appears randomly throughout this program. Like a close sports game. You will not want to take your eyes off the screen. Might miss something!

vlcsnap-2018-12-15-22h45m54s789The ubiquitous F7 was once so common. Those were one of the very replacements that vanquished the steam engine. Now, they too are relegated to museums and vintage films.

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It almost looks funny now. To see GP9s working, on a mainline coal train. It has been many years since that was a daily occurrence.

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This Vignettes show could be the most fun one that I have seen yet! No annoying flaws. Great amount of action. This F3 set is seen at Cumberland, Maryland.

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Full of cool surprises. Tons of scarce items to see. Note the wagontop caboose.

 

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Model Railroaders can view period frieght equipment, as well. The various locomotive paint schemes will keep them busy.

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Simplified blue, with the large B&O letters and a capitol dome herald. This was to be the final paint scheme.

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Consider there are some other fine Baltimore & Ohio titles, in the marketplace. They are weighted in favor of passenger operations. This show has a great focus on freight trains! If you are looking for vintage freight action. Here is the hot ticket.

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This is a good show that the family should find worthwhile. Live audio is a draw for children and any railfan.

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Wae still have the usual lack of post production attention. It is original, unrestored film. Whatever the reason. This collection appears better overall, than earlier volumes in this series.

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Vignettes of the Baltimore & Ohio, Volume 4.

Fun by the Ton!

Rating 4 Stars.

Vignettes of the Baltimore and Ohio,Volume One

Vignettes of the Baltimore and Ohio, Volume One

VBO1.500

Clear Block Productions

Producer: Todd Miller

Length: 56 minutes

Timeframe: 1950’s

Locations: Columbus, Toledo, rural Ohio, Grafton WV, and more.

Source: Karl Walters

Obviously, the intial offering for Baltimore & Ohio Vignettes. Featuring the films of Karl Walters. Vintage 1950’s era. Mostly steam footage. All color. Silent film, augmented with, a surprisingly lively, music background.

Highly detailed narrative on this release. Paul Geiger is a familiar sounding voice on Clear Block programs. He is on the dry side. Direct delivery as the script is read…

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Original cinematography has good camerawork. Film is not restored. Appears to all have been shot on 8mm. So there is not a high level of clarity.

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Post production is sorely lacking in the visual department! First half of the show contains random red/ yellow flares. Color balance issues throughout the show.  Some other quality control issues. Basically, not anything done from original film condition.

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There are no maps. No chapter menus. You get this basic show. However, a hidden 14 chapters. Viewers can jump in at a given point.

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It is an early style of train video. Back when viewers were satisfied to just see some real vintage film! Often, one had to mail order via the magazine ads. The old days.

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Keep in mind this old style premise. You will get what you get! However, there is tbe benefit of acquiring rare steam film here. In full color.

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Karl Walters was apparently domiciled near Columbus, Ohio. Much of this show is shot in rural Ohio. Secondary lines is what I am thinking. Those were abundant in the 1950’s. Pre-interstate days.

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Fairly amazing for the area. Behemoth EM-1 frequent the lines. Who would have guessed? They were displaced by new technology diesels, out on the mainlines. End result was the big steam was assigned East.

Imagine, a single F7 diesel could not replace an EM-1. Only rated at 1500 hp. Yet, an F7 unit, when strung in multiples… Unlimited horsepower in sets!

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There are plenty of passenger trains still operating. Blue and gray heaven.

vlcsnap-2018-12-14-22h35m40s825An ultra rare EMD EA unit #51, leads a passenger train at Harper’s Ferry, WV. This carbody is on display at the B&O museum in Baltimore.

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Everything is identified in detail. Those who like all of that information will love this narrative.

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Karl travelled around a bit. Grafton, West Virginia. He made it over to Pennsylvania.

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This is a show that I would not rewatch much. Prefer to hear steam operating versus musical background. Also, that 8mm unrestored gets hard on the eyesight!

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Not all that bad. Not great either. OK for an early release. Has it’s video flaws. Vignettes seem to often be flawed.

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I could grind it harder. I do not recommend it for kids or family. Hardcore railfans only. If you  can really appreciate the rarity and need this one.

I will be a little generous.

Rating 3 Stars

Vignettes of the Baltimore and Ohio, Volume 3

Vignettes of the Baltimore and Ohio, Volume 3

VBO3.500

Clear Block Productions

Producer: Todd Miller

Length: 60 minutes

Timeframe: 1942– 1957 approximately

Locations: Sand Patch Grade area , McConnellsville, Falls Cut, Wills Creek, Cumberland, Grafton,WV. MD Salmanaca, NY.

Sources: William P. Price, (color).Garret Wertz, Charles W. Houser Sr  ( black & white film)

Multiple Audio Sources: see film credits

Year: 1998

Clear Block has a four volume series on old Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Centered around ‘Steam Era’ B&O. A stone classic amoung the original Eastern railroads. These are certainly of interest to many.

B&O was one of the railroads that kept operating steam locomotives right through most of the 1950s. This was fortunate to cinematographers. Color movie film became a viable option. Large steapower on mountain grades was in daily service.

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Vignettes of the Baltimore and Ohio, Volume 3. Features a breathtaking collection of mountain steam operations. Viewers will witness B&O put on an awesome display of steam power!

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Filmed during the transition era. Diesels were beginning to replace steam. Some of the early diesels appear.Those engines have now passed into history, as well.
Keep in mind. This program was created in an earlier time. The VHS tape tape era. It retains that overall, primitive build. Maps for example.

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They are most welcome. Geographical orientation always adds enjoyment. Understanding the layout of an area. Learning about any given challenges a line contains. Maps help solidy all of that information.

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Narration is interspered throughout the show. Relevant info is conveyed in a rather dry, matter of fact style. Again, these were earlier productions.Visually. Do not expect modern restoration style viewing. It is more hardcore style. Think of it like music collectors. As they dig deeper for music. Greater rarities or older concerts. Sources become rougher.

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So one adapts their standards. The pleasures are still available. Consider the technologies of the time. Not all train videos have the benefit, of a Charles Smiley or John Pechulis, restoration process either. The real world…

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Action starts in black and white. The year is 1942. We are in Salmanaca, New York. The segment is about ten minutesg. Reminds me. No chapters or chapter menu. The audio is about average in this portion.

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The BIG SURPRISE in much of this program.Is the sound!! WOW!!!!

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This locomotive is first heard. Pounding hard, as it lugs the heavy freight train upward. As it nears, the sound becomes louder. The black enginge looms ever larger…LOUDER!!

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Checkout the grin! Engineer on 5662 is loving life, aboard his shiny engine. All good and he is in charge, of an important train. Over 60 years ago.My favorite sequence in this show!!

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Play this DVD on your main TV. Check the mountain grades. Hear those big steamers come to life. Outstanding!

Always read how steam era photographers, had left the trackside after diesels took over. Nothing was left to see. I experienced similar with third generation diesels and standardized trains. Nothing left to see. This video nails the steam fans viewpoint

vlcsnap-2018-12-14-11h03m51s426Even more fascinating. Hear the rare combinations of steam and diesels working together! If you have experienced ears. Identify Alcos or EMDs, paired with the steam engines.

This sounds like advanced style sound equipment used for the time, in many instances. Sometimes it matches exactly to the footage. Absolute must see film!

vlcsnap-2018-12-14-11h16m27s073There is a major flaw on my DVD.
A Clear Block Productions flaw.
It was present in a similar fashion on their C&O release, a few years ago. I had them check it, at that time. It was in the master. They acted not concerned. That response, has caused me not to inquire this time. The top of the picture has a constant distortion. Similiar, to what could be found in some old VHS tapes.
My best guess is something occurred when it was transferred to digital.
Still a watchable show. Just some slop from the production house. There, you have been told. Cavaet emptor.

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The program is action packed! Wall to wall action. Sans narration for much of the time. Live sound in this quality. Brilliant decision making. No narrative wanted. Let’s stand trackside in the 1950’s. See and hear these locomotives work. Amazing audio, in much of the second half of the program!

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Vignettes of the Baltimore and Ohio, Volume 3 is quite a collection of rare steam era film. The audio portion makes it a definite must have. The video flaw is a big bummer. Film quality varies as well. Unrestored is accurate.

Clear Block just does not consistently, have the higher standards, of some competitors. So this program gets downgraded somewhat.

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Geared more towards the experienced railfan. That person who can live with a major flaw in an established label release.

However, that being said. Despite the obvious production shortcomings. Anyone should be able to appreciate, the often magnificent display of smoke and sound , given by the B&O parade.

It is a very fine combination. Fun for all ages. Who would not like to see and hear big steam engines raise and shake the earth? Sometimes almost going to drive right into your family room. This has those soundbar moments!

I am giving this Vol.3  a considered overall rating of 4 stars. The rare factor elevates it a little higher.

Railfanning With The Bednars Volume 5

Railfanning With The Bednars Volume 5

downloadfile

 

John Pechulis Media

Years: 1973- 1976

Locations: Allentown, Sayre, Lehigh Gap and more… Pennsylvania and perhaps elsewhere?

Source: Bednar collection

Length: 58 minutes

Here is one of the John Pechulis series of Bednar filmed, Eastern Anthracite Railroads. This volume 5 covers much more, then the 10 months preceding the formation of Conrail. Footage dates back to 1973! Locations jump around in a timeline  format.

Sounds like this was from Mike Bednar father’s collection. Found after the previous volumes were released. Not having seen any of the previous shows. I do not know if any of this film is Mike’s, or how everything fits together.

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Majority of cameras were focused on the larger railroads of this era. Quality footage is harder to find, of Lehigh Valley and Reading Railroad. We are quite fortunate, the Bednar films are available.

There are not any maps to follow. No chapters either. A formal organization is not apparent. The show does play better than it appears, organizationazionally speaking.

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Mike Bednar was an experienced railroad professional. He worked as a Towerman for years. He knew operations cold. Names nearly everyone who appears on film. Knows the designations of the trains. Locations are usually offered. Often, the contents of freight cars are known! This adds quite a bit of interest.

I would have liked to have had some in program,reference maps. Where the heck is Sayre? Lehigh Gap? Bloom?

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Strange places. Geographical orientation would have been desirable.

Model Railroaders will love the attention paid to freight cars! Plenty of yard scenes like this one. Freight consists with road trains are viewed. Valuable information of period weathering, as well.

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Reading GP30. In case you don’t know. Mike doesn’t do the locomotive call-outs often. Yes, he seems to know them all. At times, he will spit them out. Usually, too busy telling a story or giving an explanation or an opinion!

Film quality is excellent! John Pechulis goes through some detailed restoration process, from what I understand. The results are outstanding!

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The high resolution is the high point of this production. Very clean looking film. Accurate colors. Nicely done. Bi-Centenntial paint was seemingly everywhere if you were alive in 1976!

Sound is dominated by Mike Bednar’s very detailed narrative. Expert level commentary.

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Occassional humorous comments. Depth of knowledge is fascinating. He spent his life on the railroad. Very apparent when you listen to him speak.

There are natural sound scenes. Other scenes have musical background. Everything is balanced to acceptable levels. Narration is the dominant form.

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There  is a large variety of motive power to be viewed in Volume 5. Lehigh Valley is the main feature. Reading has plenty to be seen. Delaware and Hudson, also puts in a strong showing. Very colorful era!

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Not to be forgotten. Erie Lackawanna.Bednar travelled to record EL F-units operating at Bloom. Wherever the heck that place is located!  in this program. Additional EL power is present. SD power history was controversial on this Bloom line. GP35 locos are seen elsewhere on a freight.

Lesser amounts seen are Jersey Central. A few cameos by others. B&O and some steam power.

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By this late date. Deferred maintenance has become a serious problem. Bad derailments have.caused some major wrecks! A few are on this show.

Large cranes are shown operating. This demonstrates the type of access that the Bednar’s enjoyed. They were able to get close to the action.

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Hulcher equipment is likely rare footage. Mike believes it was the intial usage of them, on a wreck, on Lehigh Valley. Interesting, this show contains the old steam era cranes and the modern Hulcher style of wreck removal eqiupment. Mike was a proud professional. These men were upset to see their once excellent roads deteriorate.

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A wide variety of motive power is on tap. Alco Century locomotives are operating on the Lehigh Valley plus the Delaware and Hudson. General Electric is making obvious inroads. EMD is easily found amoung all the railroads. All in all. This is a great looking collection of the Bednar films.

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Cinematography is excellent overall. Nice, camerawork. Colors look great! Everything is well-balanced. A top notch appearing DVD.

Narrative is informative and interesting. Once you become used to Bednars voice. Well, it is authentic. I do find him entertaining!

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Certain items that are not present. Maps and chapter selection, are what keeps this show, from the excellent rating .There is the difference between say a Charles Smiley Presents and this John Pechulis. No favoritism. Both productions can look outstanding. Both can be informative. It is those extras that are or are not included.

Very Good. A worthwhile look at some action in the 1970s NorthEast Railroads.

A strong and enjoyable show.

Rating: 4 Stars