Conrail Memories of Big Blue


Producer: Mary McPherson

Timeframe: 1985 – 1991

Locations: Effingham, St. Elmo, Teutopolis, Mt. Vernon, Smithboro

Length: 1 hour 55 minutes

Source: George Redmond

Another Conrail entry in The Heritage Series. Running on former Pennsylvania and Missouri Pacific lines. Big blue was busy in Southern Illinois!

vlcsnap-2020-02-24-11h09m03s763George Redmond video. Shot beginning in 1985. The quality is a little rough early. It improves as the timeline progresses. Those are some color issues. Picture quality is very good, for video. Sound is live audio.

vlcsnap-2020-02-24-12h41m47s451This A is a single DVD-R. Chapter Menu,No which is pictured and numbered. Zero maps. Plenty of on-screen, location graphics. Mary McPherson narrates in an as needed basis. Plenty of space to hear the trains operate.

Early action begins in Salem, 1985.

vlcsnap-2020-02-24-12h05m07s975Effingham in 1986 & 1987. Much more from this location in this show, various years.

vlcsnap-2020-02-24-11h40m45s092Teutopolis has high speed trains.

vlcsnap-2020-02-24-11h27m53s081Mount Vernon, in 1988. Conrail 3374 is on the point. This on Union Pacific rails.

vlcsnap-2020-02-24-11h35m06s032Mary is a unique Producer. She often has an element of humor or straight up fun. In this show, a collage of Conrail pacing sequences are a gas!

Shot around Teutopolis. The trains operate at road speeds. They are every bit as enjoyable to listen to, as to watch.

vlcsnap-2020-02-24-11h36m04s500A GP30 2213 is in the middle, on this eastbound move.

A quick break. Return to additional pacing. A pair of SD 50.

vlcsnap-2020-02-24-11h42m36s784A quad of GP15 are a rare catch on the main! Noisy bunch, that remind us of sets of vintage GP9s.

vlcsnap-2020-02-24-11h53m50s739This action, is almost as much fun, as a Lionel train running around a Christmas tree!

In 1989 now. Pacing With a GP40 leading an SD50.

vlcsnap-2020-02-24-12h12m13s674CR 6273 with a hot piggyback.

vlcsnap-2020-02-24-12h35m36s510Train INNL. Indy to North Little Rock behind 3375. At Benton.

vlcsnap-2020-02-24-12h07m20s684The latter half drags off and becomes repetitive. Solid blue lash-ups of trains at the same locations. Effingham again. Union Pacific interchange is shown for a moment.

vlcsnap-2020-02-24-12h51m20s209The common intermodal traffic, is also unexciting.

vlcsnap-2020-02-24-12h46m53s085St. Elmo is frequently shown.

vlcsnap-2020-02-24-13h19m37s882Finally, a change. Smithboro, Illinois. Here is the Conrail St. Louis line, at the BN crossing.

vlcsnap-2020-02-24-12h33m44s484Again, back to Effingham area.

vlcsnap-2020-02-24-12h24m16s600Compared to the somewhat similar, Conrail St. Loo to Horseshoe. Recommend this one for the better title. No, just kidding! Recommend this one, for higher video quality. Plus, the pacing action. The Illinois sections, cover about the same territory.

vlcsnap-2020-02-24-13h33m32s696This show delivers a big bellyful of Conrail. No doubt about it. Fans of the Big Blue will be satisfied, at the near 2 hour length. Little deviation from the home road. For the rest, it may run too long. No scenic highlights. Already mentioned, is the repetitive nature.

vlcsnap-2020-02-24-12h02m37s563This is a good show. As is often the case with Diverging Clear. Less would be more, to my tastes. So, bump the rating up, if you like.

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars










Rotaries 2, Battle to Open Donner Pass


Producer: Tim Walter

Timeframe: 2011

Locations: Truckee, Emigrant Gap, Cisco..

Length: 58 minutes

Source: Brendan Compton, Mike Haire, Dick Dorn

The second part to Rotaries, Avalanche on the Mountain. A Flanger train is stuck under an avalanche. The Rotary Snowplow gets dispatched from Truckee! Well, not exactly…

vlcsnap-2020-02-22-13h19m30s895Similar documentary style, as the original show. Employee narration via interviews. Other times, it is radio traffic. On-screen graphics, also convey various information. There is a narrator, to round things out.

vlcsnap-2020-02-22-12h59m30s815Broadcast quality footage. Audio as well. No maps are included. A bonus preview section. A widescreen presentation. 

vlcsnap-2020-02-22-12h13m12s759This program begins with the Flanger train, stuck in an avalanche. Where we were left hanging, at the end of that show. Their is commentary, about the incident here. Even still photographs.

vlcsnap-2020-02-22-12h25m51s694I was fully expecting to see a rescue mounted to the beleaguered Flanger. In fact, as a Rotary is dispatched from Truckee, it appears to be the case. However, that’s all folks.

vlcsnap-2020-02-22-12h31m23s002Now, the story is redirected. The massive snowfall. Following the Rotary, as it works hard, to clear the mainline through Donner Pass. The Snow Service operation works, day and night.

vlcsnap-2020-02-22-12h57m13s931The Rotary Train must travel all the way down to Roseville. In order to clear the.line and turnaround.


Rotary 209 has some derailments in the heavy snow! This is tricky work. Snow drifts at least 10 feet high. Big Union Pacific GE AC locomotives are assigned to this train. The EMD F7B is the Rotary’s power.


The height of the snow, can be hard to judge. Check this signal tower.

vlcsnap-2020-02-22-12h38m08s054Difficult going at Cisco. Back and forth. The Rotary wants to climb off the tracks. The locomotives experience wheel slip. The crew spends hours battling through.


A sideview of the Rotary.

vlcsnap-2020-02-22-15h14m58s193Some fantastic aerial drone views. These appear to be a recent addition.

vlcsnap-2020-02-22-13h04m35s898The camera does spend a lengthy amount of time, in this position. Could have used some narration, during this stretch. Definitely.

vlcsnap-2020-02-22-13h21m08s205The magic of the original show. A combination of the outstanding videography and employee commentary. The way that was edited, gave the show a unique flavor. Those same elements are present in the initial stages, but drops off. A worthy show to add to the collection.

Rating: 4 Stars







CSX 10 Augusta to Spartanburg

CSX10_dvd (1)

Producer: Green Frog

Timeframe: 1998

Locations: Augusta, Spartanburg,

Length: 58 minutes

Sources: James T. Koch, John M. Koch

CSX Volume 10, covers the mileage from Augusta, Georgia to Spartanburg, South Carolina. Differing from previous volumes, a bonus section is included.

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-19h42m51s518The specs are the same as the other CSX series. Chapter Search function. No maps. Really could have used a map.  Switchable, even on the fly is the narrative with on/off. Full narration by Bob Carrera. The 263, AC44CW ,is with a trailing Dash-8. Action at Spartanburg.

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-19h32m17s918Professional videography and enviornmental audio soundtrack. Exquisite colors! Let’s see some highlights…

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-21h02m34s902Twisting trackage at Augusta, Georgia. The implementation of these newer GE locomotives, conquered operational issues, on the route.

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-19h23m38s340This is some of the most hilly territory on the Southern territory of CSX. Some trains, still need helpers on tough grades.

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-18h59m09s869Norfolk Southern with an SP loco, is stopped to hand throw a turnout. Near a busy CSX crossing, in Augusta.


To conquer Snead’s Hill, two AC44CW do not need helpers on a coal train.

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-19h06m47s261Unit 301 another AC44CW, with train Q692 restarts, after an air leak issue.

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-19h13m36s567 Another Q move on Clark Hill. This Manifest freight, does not require a helper. An SD50 on the point. 

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-19h17m08s004Greenwood yard. 8188 a GP40 attached to this train. Even more happens here.

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-19h20m38s016Northbound from Atlanta, this B36-7 leads with an NS unit, in the lash-up. The 5867 was a Seaboard System.

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-19h24m34s752Amtrak walks it’s consist, over the Enoree bridge.

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-20h24m16s730Up in the cab on a C40-8W! A pair of helpers. On the Spartanburg sub. Friendly and talkative crew. Engineer explains the desktop controls.  Unit 7730.

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-19h41m16s958All lit up, the 7730 pulls an expired hours of service coal train towards Spartanburg.

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-19h50m29s071Spartanburg Yard. End of the line for Volume 10.

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-19h28m53s685* The Bonus section is the unedited Cabride. The crew is quieter in this full length version. We are sitting at 18 feet in height. That is a high perch!


CSX 10 is a satisfying trip. Expertly filmed, and it moves at a brisk pace. The route miles covered are uncommon. Cab ride adds interest to this show. Green Frog knows how to keep a tight edit. In and out, in under an hour. The time passes quickly.

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars





Union Pacific, The MoPac Merger Years: 1986 – 88


Producer: Mary McPherson

Timeframe: 1986 – 88

Locations: Salem, Mt. Vernon, Kirkwood…

Length: 1 hour 49 minutes

Source: George Redmond

This Heritage Series show is focused on the final years of Missouri Pacific. The videos are centered around the St. Louis area.

A single DVD-R. A main menu, with options. Play, Scene Selection and Previews.  No maps. There are on-screen graphics.

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-13h07m15s643Videography by George Redmond. He is very competent. The scenes are on point. Only limited by the tech of the era. Still, these are images that are hard to find.

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-12h50m46s240Color balance is very good. Audio is lively! Mary let’s these trains be heard. An enjoyable show.


A broadside view of the final scheme. Those C36-7 units, were assigned to hot priority moves.

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-10h59m58s013The opening scene was shot in March, 1985. These Missouri Pacific GP50 units, are painted in the UP style. Nicknamed the Canary paint scheme.

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-11h17m32s252Blue GP38s switch at Salem Yard.

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-11h09m52s538A Western Pacific GP40, also at Salem. 

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-12h20m09s204A GE C36-7 at Tuscola, Illinois. The tower is Illinois Central. Doesn’t this locomotive, recall late Alco design?

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-11h23m33s297A blue GE is heading this local.


Some GP18s are turned in at Mt. Vernon, to be scrapped. Note, the low and high hood options.


This Houston to Indianapolis, displays the three principal paint schemes, in use. Salem.

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-11h39m23s292At Dupo, Illinois. A trio of SD50 canaries lead a unit coal train. These late model orders were delivered in this revised paint.

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-12h34m43s042Rarely seen, Union Pacific RoadRailer trains. Good for some appearances,l in this show.

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-11h42m08s603Those  C30-7 were MoPacs last new order. 

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-11h45m29s782George has good pacing sequences. A malfunctioning GE unit, is the most entertaining.

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-11h54m54s652By 1987, a solid set of MoPac blue is almost impossible to find, on a road train!

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-12h52m22s170After watching the operator print it. A funny moment! The engineer on this Conrail engine, whiffs on the grab. Mary comments the train continues onward, because it is CTC territory.

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-12h10m47s553Former MP 4248 and it’s mate 4232, are now in full Union Pacific paint. Mount Vernon.

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-12h31m53s271Engine #1713 leads at Kirkwood,MO.


Naturally, by 1988 the older blue units are faded and in smaller numbers. A veteran SD40 shows up at Mt. Vernon.

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-12h45m38s971This scene tells the story, of the later Missouri Pacific years. Union Pacific, with an ever growing prescence. This power clears the mainline at Mount Vernon, after dropping it’s cars.

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-12h38m20s889In the end, the railroad is absorbed into the super system. Some say it’s progress. While many Railfan’s, are saddened at another fallen flag. 

vlcsnap-2020-02-18-13h00m33s314There are a number of cabooses in this show. The transfer model could show, in road service.

A well paced show. The train sounds make it just as interesting to hear, as it is to view. Sure, it is not modern standards. There is historical value in these older tapes. This collection has aged well. Narrative highlights the need to know information. A variety of locations. One of the better Heritage Series releases.

Rating: 4 Stars







14 Miles Cajon Pass


Producer: Tim Walter

Locations: Cajon Pass, Sullivan’s Curve, Palmdale Cut-off…

Timeframe: 2019

Here is a current visit to world famous, Cajon Pass! The 14 miles, refers to the length. Operating freight traffic, is by Union Pacific and BNSF. Fans of the modern rail scene, are in for quite a treat.

vlcsnap-2020-02-16-18h37m10s560As one would expect from Pentrex, all of the  best known locations are included. Many others, as well.

vlcsnap-2020-02-16-19h30m06s169A single DVD-R.  Detailed Chapter Menu. On screen graphics. Preview section. Great picture and natural audio. Excellent post production.

vlcsnap-2020-02-16-18h18m31s859A colorful, custom map is included. Only referenced a single time. Veteran Railfans already know this material. However, newer people likely would appreciate multiple references.

vlcsnap-2020-02-16-18h55m11s295Veteran announcer Dave Drui handles a relaxed script. Informative, yet leaving plenty of space to listen to the trains. So, activate that soundbar!

vlcsnap-2020-02-16-20h22m52s594The busiest railroad, mountain crossing, in the United States. This is the subtitle. Hits the nail on the head! There are 100 scheduled trains daily.

vlcsnap-2020-02-16-18h22m00s941Blue Cut is where the San Andreas Fault is located. A blue CSX accentuates the bluish stone.

vlcsnap-2020-02-16-18h33m38s388It takes quite awhile to change locations sometimes. However, no shortage of traffic.

vlcsnap-2020-02-16-19h05m54s142For those unfamiliar with this part of the country. Note the dry riverbed. These can sometimes becoming raging torrents. Have no idea about this specific one.

vlcsnap-2020-02-16-18h59m07s795Very little, in run through locomotives. Several Citirail units are seen.

vlcsnap-2020-02-16-18h57m27s523An odd moment. Mention of this train breaking down later in the show, causing traffic problems. No further discussion.

vlcsnap-2020-02-16-19h56m20s535A show highlight, is the cut to Cajon 1976 footage!


 Big Boy 4014 rolls by, a single pass in 2019.

vlcsnap-2020-02-16-19h37m19s030A couple of shots from a rare snowfall are another break, from the unit trains.

vlcsnap-2020-02-16-19h53m09s035Amtrak Southwest Chief has a single rollby.

vlcsnap-2020-02-16-19h33m23s508Almost missed it! A Chicago and NorthWestern unit, is in the middle of this lash-up.

vlcsnap-2020-02-16-20h55m05s247Cajon Summit is acheived, at the end.

vlcsnap-2020-02-16-20h42m13s259UP fans will want their flag on the summit. The 9068, is an SD70AH. 

vlcsnap-2020-02-16-20h00m51s397Note, this is the older BNSF livery. Santa Fe traditional style lettering. C44-9W.

While present day railroading, is not my wheelhouse. The combination of slow trains, and beautiful scenery has its own charm. Hearing the locomotives working hard is another positive.

vlcsnap-2020-02-16-18h45m22s774The two hour length could have been edited down considerably. Certain locations, the camera is planted there, for far too long. Particularly, in the first hour. Unusual, as Pentrex normally picks up and moves!


For a show featuring the current railroad scene, special scenery is a must have. Everything else is repetitive. This show is well put together. Although, this era is not to my interest, it is a good show. Recommended, if you enjoy today’s railroading.

Rating: 4 Stars