CSX on the Tracks of the C&O

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Producer: A&R

Timeframe: 1995-2000

Locations: Lynchburg to Kenova

Length: 1 hour 40 minutes

Source: Chester Kumada

Self guided tour of the given route. Third generation CSX locomotives. Unit coal trains. Not much in the way of variety. The most interesting aspect is the history. Yet, nothing is learned.

A major flaw. This show is advertised as ‘Narrated’. The terminology of narration. Commonly refers to a voiceover that is present throughout the program.

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Here, a limited bit of talk, at the beginning. After that brief portion. The remaining 90 minutes are NOT narrated!

A single route map. One look is all that is given.

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The edits are rough, in too many spots.  Contributed uncomfortable viewing session. Hard on the eyesight.

A small horizontal distortion bar is present at the bottom of the screen. Always there.

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Audio is whatever the High 8 Videocam recorded. Unedited. Including, the cameraman getting hassled to give some identification info!

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The dark paint is seen at Lynchburg, Virginia.

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Wind noise gets too loud at times. This should have been edited, in the Post production.

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The show plays like a raw video. The show contains some normal video flaws. Nothing to be a big concern. Just like watching a tape.

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Chester uses his camera as handheld. A fairly, steady hand. Although, there are shaky scenes. A little trimming could have smoothed some of this out of the show.

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A wasted opportunity to explore some history of the locations. Sometimes, a bit of signage designated a location. Otherwise, your guess is good as mine.

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Unit coal trains are as thrilling as watching paint dry. They could have discussed, the various moves and the companies involved. At the very least.

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Clifton Forge has a large yard. Now, there is a subject! Speaking of narration. This ex:B&O GP40 is cutout of the lash-up on a coal train. Dropped at the yard. No details.

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Chester gets a great view at this empty move!

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Here is an: almost but no cigar, GP30. A road slug. CSX 2211.

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A couple of Amtrak scenes. One at the platform is The Cardinal. The Public Address via the video microphone.

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Ohio River, is a shortline involving coal hoppers. An NW2 and an old Centercab diesel, are performing the mindless switching. No description= mindless.

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We are at the end of the show. A bit of logic. Must be Kenova, West Virginia. I have seen that Norfolk and Western trestle, in old films.

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The final tally is a weak result. Lack of narration is a huge downfall. As are the other production flaws. This becomes a drag.

A regular narrative could have made a big difference. Therefore, the lower rating.

Rating: 2 1/2 Stars

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Ohio Steam in the ’50’s

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Producer: A&R

Timeframe: 1950s

Locations: Ohio

Length: 1 hour 40 minutes

Source: Ed Birch, Sr.

A fabulous collection of classic steam. Filmed during the 1950s. Ed Birch shot all of this, in full color. He was on a high level.  This covers several railroads.

Baltimore and Ohio, Nickel Plate, New York Central plus Pennsylvania Railroad. Special guest stars, are big Santa Fe 5000 class power!

There is even a little Grand Trunk Western. Cameos of Detroit interurbans.

A sprinkling of early diesels appear.

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There is no Chapter Menu. No maps either. Dubbed sound for the trains. Good sound levels. Some scenes work better than others.

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Carrothers Tower, with Pennsylvania Railroad signage

 Narration by Aaron Gonthier. Basic script. Locomotives and locations. Additional information.

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Excellent looking films! Some occasional flaring. Very clean. Fine Cinematography.

Too much to get it all here. Hit some highlights. Not in running order.

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Baltimore and Ohio had moved steam into this area. Their behemoth, EM-1 can be found operating with a Pacific. Going to Wheeling. 

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EM-1, in a flurry of scenes around the yard.

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Ride into Deschler. On a B&O passenger train. Quick trip. Much happens at busy Deschler station. The inclusion of railroad structures are valuable.

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4618 leaves Deschler, with a friendly wave from the Engineer.

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5301  Cincinnatian. Streamlined Pacific stops at Deschler. Ride this train to Toledo.

 

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New York Central. Niagara 6014 departs with a passenger train. Toledo.

 

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Central Union Terminal. A modern passenger station. Built in 1950.

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Grafton, West Virginia. An important B&O facility. A good visit there.

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B&O 4453 getting water. Fascinating scene, 50 ton hoppers elevated.

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Cincinnatian to Detroit. PCC cars on Woodward Ave.

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Grand Trunk Western Station. Milwaukee Junction.  See the locomotive service area. A bit dark. Time of day perhaps. Notice, how they do not promote this segment.

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Sandusky in 1956. ATSF 2-10-4 engines on lease. Model Railroaders will find plenty of freight cars in the trains.

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Berkshire 776 has picked up orders at Bellvue. Nice sequence.

 

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A Santa Fe 5000 class, on the: Mansfield to Carrothers, Pennsylvania Railroad line.

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Attica Jct. This tower gives a sense of size to the large 2-10-4 Santa Fe steam engines. Note the man at the bottom of the stairs.

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Tiffen, on the Pennsylvania. A PRR J1

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B&O Q4 Mikado paced sequence.

vlcsnap-2019-05-13-17h43m34s743A Nickel Plate Road Berkshire, meets newer diesels. This was the near the end for steam on NKP.

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Baltimore and Ohio caboose,with an older paint scheme. Look at those colors!

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Nickel Plate Road, with High Speed Service.

Excellent program that exceeded expectations. Non- stop action of classic transition era trains. Variety of locomotives and the railroads are intriguing.

Ed Birch’s work, will stand with any of the well known Cinematographers. Outstanding composition. This man knew how to film a train!

This show is a must see for any steam fan.

Great for family viewing. You might find yourself wishing for more…

Rating: 5 Stars

Whistler’s Western – The Boston & Albany RR

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Producer: A&R

Timeframe: 1934-1989

Locations: B&A

Length:1 hour

Sources: Blackhawk collection

This comprehensive, historical overview is complete. History from the 1830s. Films dating back to the 1930’s, document the constant activity.

The Conrail era brings the B&A current, as of the production year. Conrail footage bookends the story.

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The writers dove deep on this program. Lecturing on the early incarnations, that were later rolled into the larger company.

Frequent map usage illustrates the territories. Multiple maps are posted of various areas. Extremely helpful for those who are unfamiliar, with this region.

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This program is approximately: one half, black and white, film. High quality footage, for the most part. All of this, is shot very well. Also, Hudson class steam galore!

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The diesel era is in quality, color film and video. This includes some cab rides.

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Majority of the film sourced audio, would be dubbed. Video of Conrail should be live. A fine sounding show.

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Ted Daluku performs his usual pro level narrative. The script is very well written. Chronological progress makes it easy, for even non railfan viewers to follow. Steam to diesel. Good for family viewing.

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Steam powered 20th Century Limited trains are shown.

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A 1932 Chevy gives chase to this train!!

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Away he goes…

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Checkout the heat running in that old, snow covered caboose. Baby, it’s cold outside!

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RDC car provides some interurban service.

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New York Central, with rare Alco RS 32 models.

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The Penn Central is a part of the Boston & Albany story. Much more coverage in Vol.2.

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Amtrak SDP40F proved unsatisfactory.

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Very early Conrail merger. No blue paint.

 

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The only misstep in my opinion. The title of the two volumes. I was expecting the likes of Starucca Viaduct. After some research. Whistler’s Arches were flood damaged. Abandoned. That’s it?

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Whistler’s Western – The Boston & Albany.

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A traditional approach has been used to present, The Boston and Albany Railroad. Say what you will about traditional. One truth is. Traditional becomes tradition, because it works!

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A&R has covered all the bases. Done their homework. Organized it all in a clear and concise presentation. Kept it nicely paced. Interesting history and brought current.

That is easier said, than done.

Excellent work!

Rating: 5 Stars

 

 

New York, New Haven & Hartford Volume 2

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Producer: A&R

Timeframe: 1940/50s

Locations: CT

Length: 90 min.

Sources: Paul Wales, Gary Gurske

An grab- bag assortment of: train rides, cab rides, caboose ride and trainwatching. Also, a radio slideshow interview, with a radio chatter insert, that doesn’t belong. Limited, good bonus section of a little; B&A, CN,CV, plus NYC. Late 1940s into 1950s.

 

The vintage mixture of films. Mostly color. Overall good, but variable condition. An early black and white train ride, has so much camera bounce, as to be unwatchable. Other various rides are better quality. Locomotive cab rides are even, much smoother.

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Unrestored films, as we generally see from A&R. The slides are excellent quality. Yet, this should be a video.

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Audio is ranging from silent, to ambient sound. Sound levels get loud at times. Somewhat unbalanced, to be critical. Although, those steam engines do get attention. The radio interview audio plays at a lower volume. That is harder to understand.

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The show is narrated by Aaron Gonthier. Information also varies. Maps are used earlier in the show. No Chapter Menu.

vlcsnap-2019-02-27-21h24m01s426Steam to diesel transition era. Keeps this main portion unpredictable. Really interesting. Never know what is next.

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Crossing guard shanty.

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This man liked to film wrecks. Steam cranes at work, on multiple sites. Watch this Alco FA get pulled up from it’s side. An extensive look at this wreck in particular.

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A cornucopia of action. Fan trips dating back to the 1950s.

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Classic Alco RS led local freight.

 

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Cab rides galore! RDC cars are present too.

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Super rare New York Ontario & Western FT. Parked at an engine facility.

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Plenty of steam engines. New Haven fans will be satisfied.

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Let’s look at this odd inclusion. The old timer taped on the radio! Mr. Healey retired from the New Haven. A radio interview, is included with him. This is accompanied by a slideshow. No slides shown in this review.

Healey held multiple craft positions in the steam era. Dispatcher to fireman. More info, with his father serving 54 years, as well. Interesting background and insight to railroad service life.

Although, I do not know believe there is much replay value on this interview. Plus the lower sound quality.

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Another strange inclusion. Random train radio chatter. The way this is inserted is a distraction! Maybe little children would enjoy this. Not good. Drags it down!

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The interview declines into a never neverland of who knows what. This radio chatter randomness, is a genuine turn-off. I had to suffer through this crap for a complete review! For kids. Who cares… Edit..edit..edit.. Back to the interview?

Plays like nonsense…

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A Penn Central era scene appears.

 

Bonus footage. Central Vermont steam. Silent with narration. Willamatic. Candian National FM C liners. Notice how the silent passages win any argument for having sound. Looks great, boring!

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All of a sudden. Sound returns. Vintage New York Central. Last run of a Niagara. Some Boston and Albany shots. Plus…wait for it….

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Boston and Maine! Steam and diesel. Now we are cooking. If for just a few minutes.

New York, New Haven & Hartford Volume 2.

This show has some bright spots. Rarities. It has some other odd sections, which drag it down. Lame production decisions, are the main problem. Dump the radio interview. Delete the radio chatter. Insert sound, versus the dumb silent reel sequences. Voila!

Oh wait. That is not what we have. It is this flawed release. Listen kid. You could have been a contender! Hardcore fans only.

Rating: 2 1/2  Stars

Whistler’s Western Volume 2- Penn Central

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Producer: Steve Bransfield & Phil Johnson

Timeframe: 1970s

Locations: Post Rd. NY to N. Grafton, MA

Length: 54 minutes

Source: Bruce Malone

The Boston & Albany, in Penn Central black. Whistler’s Western? Are you serious? Nonsense! Who cares. Just another route, to the Penn Central. Ignore the goofy title. If you enjoy the black diesels and a green caboose. Hop aboard!

Filmed in full color. Unrestored, but looks fine. Balanced presentation. Nothing weird. Just do not expect modern, crystal clarity.

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Imagery ranges around very good overall. Variable, with the sometimes grainy and murky backgrounds. Can be focus issues.

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Audio is dubbed. Some scenes work better than others. Levels are even.

No Chapter Menu is included.

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Ted Daluku is the reliable narrator. Clear and professional. Fine job!

In the above scene. Action at Chester. Check all that power. Power balance move.

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A good script. This time, a little thin on some details. They mention to assume, the viewer has digested the information from the first volume. (3263 is a GP40)

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A rudimentary map early on. Once, and a minimal effort. Location references are verbal throughout.

Starting point is Western end of the B&A line. It is at Post Road Crossing , New York.

Never heard of that place. Alright then…We are moving Eastbound, most of the time.

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This volume is focused on trainwatching. Nothing wrong with that. Pacing is the key.

An error or two in the script. Nearly all shows contain errors. If memory serves. This scene called for ,”An all GE lineup”. Not critical. In fact, if the viewer should yawn or sip a beverage. They miss the mistake. Carry on!

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The action is tightly constructed. Quickly, moving from one train, onto the following one. Cinematography is excellent, by Bruce Malone!

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The Washington Cut. A deep rock cut, provides a different viewing angle. Looks like a GE U-33C in the lead.

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Penn Central freight trains roll by the camera in an endless supply.

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Big General Electrics share duties with EMD GP40 and GP38 units. PC # 2910 is a GE U33B.

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Amtrak Lake Shores Limited.

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Plenty of former New York Central cabooses, still service the line. Model railroaders will find a good supply of rolling stock.

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Interchange, with a Grand Trunk GP9, on the lead. Central Vermont train. Palmer location.

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An SW1500 also at Palmer. A branchline here. The transfer caboose was handy. Long platforms good for switching cars. They were used on many railroads. These were former New York Central. Some lasted into Conrail.

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Piggyback trains as they were called back in the day. A caboose on every one!

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Extra 8130 slows for orders. (FYI… 8130 is a GP38-2, your welcome)! Bruce Malone was a Penn Central employee.

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Train moves through the makeshift station. This is near the old Westfield Station.

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The Conductor grabs the flimsies. Maybe Bruce knew these guys. He is really close.

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Extra 6523 is shot from above, at Charleton. An Erie Lackawanna GE, is third in this lash-up.

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An easily recognizable caboose. Class N5C. A former Pennsylvania porthole window. These lasted into the Conrail years.

Sharp eyes, will find a little bit of: CR re-lettered cabooses and a boxcar. I could have shown them. Nah! You can hunt them. More fun that way.

Whistler’s Western Volume 2- Penn Central Black

This show does perform, with the constant parade of trains. Penn Central fans will enjoy it the most.

If it grabs you. You know. That’s the ticket.

Rating: 4 Stars