Southern 4501 to Summerville

Southern 4501 to Summerville$_57

Diverging Clear Productions

Length 80 minutes

Time Period: 2014.

Locations: Chattanooga, TN to Summerville, GA

Cameras: McPherson, Jensen, Redmond, Dunn

Producer: Mary McPherson

MSRP: 20.00

2015 release


Ever the busy producer, Mary McPherson has a current release with Southern 4501.  The star of this show is the famous 4501.  DCP draws footage from 4 videographers. Many runbys that showcase the 1911 built Mikado hauling passenger excursions in 2014. Plenty of steam shrouded mood shots add some variety.


Kurt Jensen narrates with his relaxed style


Informative background chapter with history of related Southern Railway steam. Includes some additional Southern steamers. Older video has the 4501 from an earlier time.


2015-09-07_232207                                                 Early morning action.


2015-09-07_231853                       Doubleheader with a Tennessee Valley Consolidation.

2015-09-07_232515                                                       On the turntable.



The narrative completes. Viewers are left with plenty of natural steam action. Graphics denote locations.2015-09-07_233017

Southern 4501 To Summerville is about what one would expect. Contemporary action of a vintage steam locomotive. The program plays fine. Railfans should find this a good release.

Rating: 3 Stars


Illinois Central

Illinois CentralILLCentral_DVD

Green Frog Productions

Format: 2 DVD  set

Length: 2 Hours 20 minutes

Time Period:1950’s-1980’s

Locations: Chicago, Homewood, Kankakee, Winery Rd.,Freeport, Centralia, Bradley, Peotone, Monee, Fulton KY, Jackson Miss.,

Sources: Jerry Carson, Steve Neff

This program has 2 main themes. Steam and early diesels, in the 1950’s, as filmed by noted photographer Jerry Carson. A modern Illinois Central , videographer is Steve Neff. How does this combination work?

chicagoNearly 40 years of Illinois Central history , is contained within this 2 disc set. There is an 8 minute slideshow included. Narration has on or off feature.

homewoodHomewood , construction began in 1919, to Markham yard completion in 1926, it is the largest yard on the IC. It sure looks different with steam engines. The film is.. in color! Some of  roundhouse area is shown. Berkshire 8000 series 2-8-4 , Mikado 2-8-2, Mountain 4-8-2, all pulling freight trains.

2815The images are crisp and the sound is matched up fine. It sounds great. Fast paced action and the narration is informative. Big 2-10-2 freights lead to Freeport and the yard. More ICRR steam shown at: Olympia Fields and Winery Road. Mountain types are all over. Big Four passenger trains pull various cars: NYC, C&O, also; green heavyweights, mixed with stainless.

1597 mikadoMany trains. Some high priority Mikado led meat trains. Check those steam era freight cars too! This all color segment is very enjoyable. A little black & white footage follows. Surprisingly, more color and close-up, trackside film at Kankakee.The trainwatching continues, at numerous places. Passenger train waits on meat trains. A banana train.. This is tightly edited, and nonstop action. Watching this 45 minutes is simply…fun!

 centraliaVintage diesels are next on the show. The final run of the City of Miami, before Amtrak.  Black GP9 plus Orange and White GP9, GP 18 units. Some torpedo tanks, equipped for dual service.


gp8New 6 axle SD40 ,U33, GP10 Paducah rebuilds. E unit passengers in early Amtrak service. GP40 types in both schemes. A fine look at classic Illinois Central diesels.




The second half is a contemporary Illinois Central. A leaner, meaner IC complete with a new logo is on this dvd. Steve Neff is a talented videograpgher. Like many modern videos, some other roads are included: BN, Amtrak, Conrail, UP, Santa Fe, BAR. Some weathered ex: ICG painted locos are present. The trains themselves have changed from the earlier years. Unit trains; coal, grain, tofc and there are still general merchandise. The smalltown branchlines, are gone from the new IC.


Highlights: Tuscola visits, the night shots at Centralia and Carbondale, a pacing shot, Effingham has many trains. It’s the modern era IC for sure.

cc 85The final section has the Chicago, Central & Pacific, formed after the ICG garage sale. Interesting older locomotives in: former IC green diamond, IC, ICG orange, Milw., and red Chicago Central.


This half is a good look at the new Illinois Central. Sound is crisp, narration fits,  and the video is very good to excellent. There is a repetitive feel , sameness of standardization. A good show, just not in the same class as the ICRR of yesteryear.

2Green Frog has taken us for a 40 year tour of Illinois Central.

9125 cabDigitally remastered images and sounds on the entire set. Very high standard of production. All things considered … part one alone, is worth the price of admission.

Rating 4 stars

Rio Grande Odyssey

Rio Grande OdysseyRGO

Green Frog Productions

Length: 2 1/2 Hours

Time Period: 1960’s to 1980’s

Locations: Denver, Moffat Tunnel, Royal Tunnel, Tennessee Pass, Leadville, Soldier Summit

Source: Emery Gulash

MSRP: 39.95

2014 Updated..

The Denver & Rio Grande Western in the Rocky Mountains. A healthy dose of steam operations on the Rio Grande narrow gauge is here. Speaking of steam, a standard gauge Burlington Route 2-8-0 is shown, working at Leadville.

cal zephyrA balanced presentation of, freight and passenger trains. Fascinating viewing.

Natural, scenic beauty is often the setting, for this train video. Emery Gulash made multiple visits there. His 16mm color film camera recorded the action. At 2 1/2 hours, there is good coverage of the Rio Grande. The 2 DVD’s are a worthwhile upgrade over the old vhs format. Chapter menu. Stereo sound. Train sounds by Emery . Fine, basic narrative by Bob Carrera.

2We begin in May 1964. The Wasatch mountains have F7A/B and GP9 locos. The F unit mid-train helpers were a surprise to Emery. Soldier Summit is a showcase for the weathered, covered wagons. This is mountain railroading! Great scenery, and over to Castle Gate. Denver Union Station is featured with the CB&Q, UP and DRGW trains.

5102 tt

DRGW 5102 rides the turntable at Alamosa.

antonitoIn May 1960, the dual gauge operation is shown and continued in 1964, at Alamosa and Antonito. Intriguing segment to say the least.

Matched sets of GP30,GP35, SD7, F7 units make for interesting viewing. The California Zephyr is frequently included.

rgz moffat 72The 2nd half is at Moffat Tunnel in 1972. Grand Jct. is a busy division point.

tippleA limestone operation is a highlight visit. Two GP- 30 locomotives are busy at work.



Burlington Northern / Colorado & Southern action.


A wide variety of cabooses are seen.


Emery was great at mood shots. Dusk falls at Helper.

tennessee pass 2

Mid-train helpers at Tennessee Pass. Much more….

cabGreen Frog has another excellent entry in their Odyssey series. This set is fantastic!

Rating  5 stars

Tennessee Narrow Gauge

Tennessee Narrow Gaugecover

A & R Productions

Length: 70 minutes

Time Period: 1942- 1950

Locations:Johnson City, Elizabethton, Doe River Gorge, Blevins, TN – Cranberry, NC.

Sources: Vince Ryan and Jack Alexander

MSRP: 30.00

Eastern Tennessee & Western North Carolina Railroad. That name is a mouthful. WT&WNCRR. Still, too long. Tweetsie? Yes, this was the common nickname. This narrow gauge line interchanged with Clinchfield and Southern Railway at Johnson City. Last operating 3 foot gauge in this part of the country.

ET&WNCRR Historical Society had a collection of these rare films. A&R Productions agreed to produce this program. First collection was from 1942 to 1943. Second collection dates from 1949.

1943 elizabethton 9Ten Wheelers do put on a fine show. Number 9 smokes it up on the scenic Tweetsie.

Ted Dalaku narrates a well written script. Assorted viewpoints and creativity from the cinematographers. Color 8mm film that has a clean appearance. Audio is full of train sounds, some nature and more. Banjo music spices up the soundtrack. A handful of fun shots that feature the two photographers add a little humor.

tweetsie mapHistory of Tweetsie and trackage are thoroughly explained with this map.

11 gorgeFascinating 1942 train ride onboard the caboose and steam locomotive 11. Elizabethton to Blevins, via spectacular Doe River Gorge. Train continues to destination at Cranberry. Brief scenes of engine servicing and switching are included. Travel westbound from Cranberry too.

tweetsie 11 loco gorgetrainDoe River Gorge is memorable. Many views give a great sense of traversing the line here.

1943 cranberry 11 passengerCameras returned in 1943. Action is centered around Cranberry. More Doe River Gorge. Similar in style, but different facets are shown. Wartime passenger service has been required by the War Board. Shots from onboard the trains have an excess of shaky views. Not as smooth overall, as the 1942 footage. Increased variety of trains in this year.

1950 last run 11The Last Run by Number 11 in 1950, was the curtain call for the Tweetsie.

tweetsie caboose

Tennessee Narrow Gauge does provide a detailed overview of the railroad. A & R has a nicely produced program.  An interesting visit to a bygone time.

Rating: 4 Stars

Narrow Gauge East of the Sierra

Narrow Gauge East of the Sierraspng

Sunday River Productions

Length: 31 minutes

Time Period: 1950’s

Locations: Owenyo, Laws, Keeler, Zurich

Sources: Wil Whittaker, Mac Owen, Otto Perry Library

MSRP: 29.95

Southern Pacific once ran a profitable narrow gauge line in Owens Valley California until 1960. The sparse desert with towering mountain backdrops reminds one of the 1950’s motion picture- Bad Day at Black Rock. Yes, diminutive SP steam engines are seen hauling boxcars and gondolas across desolate terrain.

sp9 borax otto perryThis show has had a 2007 digital remaster. Otto Perry was a famous photographer and filmed steam era railroads. His library contains over 20,000 photographs. Above, a train loaded with Borax, that will be transferred to standard gauge Southern Pacific Lines.

Carson Colorado mapA set of simple maps are clearly marked and useful. Graphics denote locations. A chapter menu offers the three cinematographic sources. The show was also reedited in 2007. It plays as an informative, smooth running presentation.

The late Alva Morrison narrates and he was the original producer. Plenty of operational information is shared.  Train sounds, some scenes sans narration. Brief musical interludes between the chapters are the rest of the audio soundtrack.

Wilbur Whittaker films are in Chapter One.

Believe this Whittaker Collection is from the early 1950’s.

sp18 railfansThere are railfans in the coaches. An early era outing behind the boxcars.

LawsService facilities at Laws. This compact scene is a natural for modellers.

sp18 turntable lawsA time honored Armstrong Turntable is manned on both ends!

Mac Owen films are Chapter Two.

sp9 sierra talcSierra Talc Company required that product shipped in boxcars,

sp transloaderTransloading facility to accommodate standard gauge interchange of bulk commodities.

borax trainThe remoteness of the area is felt in this scene by Mac Owen.

Otto Perry is the source for Chapter Three.

This satisfying chapter is half of the show length.

sp9Number 9 blasts out some steam. Almost seems ready to clean the dock!

sp ng 9

owenyo Borax loaded gondolas resemble a prehistoric unit train.

sp combineSouthern Pacific used a combine to serve as a caboose.

Sunday River has a fine little show in Narrow Gauge East of the Sierra. The half hour running time is all that viewers will see. Each of the three cinematographers provide their individual feel. Otto Perry footage is unique to this program.

Rating: 4 Stars