A Quarter Century of Steam

A Quarter Century of Steam25

Diverging Clear Productions

Length: 4 1/2 Hours

Time Period: 1985-2010

Locations: Midwest, East, and more..

Sources: Jensen, McPherson, Redmond, Tom and Kyle Dunn

Producer: Mary McPherson

MSRP: 30.00

Where can you find 65 steam locomotives in a train video? Diverging Clear has just released a pair of DVD’s that are packed with over 4 hours of steam action. Many locomotives are found here. The usual suspects are ever present. Railfans already can guess those examples that were running during those years. Union Pacific, Nickel Plate, Norfolk & Western are the major ones. Frisco, Southern Pacific, Pere Marquette, and Southern are some others.

sr 4501Southern 4501

A small sampling of what you will see in this show . There is much more. Many locomotives no longer are in service. There is plenty of fine cinematography. Kids will love this one.

3985 Union Pacific 3985.

ssw 819bCotton Belt 819

There are rarities to be enjoyed. Viewers will see operating steam power that is no longer in service. Re-lettered locomotives such as former Canadian railroads round out the selection. Special excursions and train museums, are where the trains operate.

black hillsBlack Hills Central encounters a mother deer and doe.

A variety of sizes and classes are here. Diminutive narrow gauge. Large Northerns from UP and Milwaukee Road. Passenger power. Consolidations, Mikados and Shays. Strange looking Chinese steam, on US rails. Articulated, with UP, N&W. Saddle tanker and even a replica of an early 440 steamer.

slsf 1522Frisco 1522 in a stunning scene. Reminds one of classic Emery Gulash. Some engines, like this one are shown very often. Ditto for UP 844, UP 3985, NW 1218.

cards

Kurt Jensen does minimal narration. Title screens offer the bulk of information. The program is better when Kurt adds more information.

grand canyonGrand Canyon

The show is arranged in chronological order. As one would expect, the quality increases over the timeline. 1985-2010. Editing is smooth. Sometimes, the lower quality is all there is of a rare scene. In that case, it’s better then nothing.

ebt

East Broad Top.

pm 1225Pere Marquette

soo 1003 2007Soo Line

mil 261This scene with Milwaukee Road 261 recalls the spirit of Lionel trains .

261A Quarter Century of Steam: 25 years. The show does contain many steam engines. It fulfills the advertised content. This reviewer does find the program overstays it’s welcome. There is too much repetition of the same engines. After awhile, the proceedings end up an excessive series of runbys. Seems that an hour or more would have served better. if presented as a separate bonus section.

gtw ocOhio Central has a restored Grand Trunk Western and more.

cn 89 strasburgCanadian National 89 is one of several steam engines seen at Strasburg, Pennsylvania.

There are 2 identities of DCP. There is the ‘new and improved’, with tight editing and sharper scripts. There is also the earlier incarnation. That has endless footage and simple narrative. This show falls into the early style.

tvrr

It is geared as a basic ‘Best of DCP Steam’. That all being said, this is worthy for the assortment and the rarities. If those are appealing, jump on it!

Rating: 3 Stars

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Union Pacific Scrapbook

Union Pacific Scrapbookd130

Charles Smiley Presents

Length: 1 hour 40 minutes + previews

Time Period: 1950’s- 1996

Locations: Tehachapi Loop, Coast Line, Chicago, Laramie, Cajon Pass, Afton Pass and more…

Sources: Mark Johnson, Gino Pagliaro, Charles Smiley- video. Ten movie film sources.

MSRP: 29.50

Union Pacific Expansion Years is the fitting subtitle for this show. Scrapbook shows feature assorted films from multiple years and locations. A focus on the growth of this railroad includes the fit of additions to UP goals and operations.  Providing action of vintage and modern railroading. Plus, plenty of good old fashioned trainwatching! This release explores Union Pacific in this fashion.

3474High quality is a hallmark of Charles Smiley productions. Notice how the diesel sounds are matched to the locomotive. Digital film processing gives fine picture standards.

1955Featuring highly interesting and informative narration. Charles gives the audience a plethora of historical backgrounds. Passenger service is one of those discussions.

portlandPerfect scene for model railroaders to recreate in miniature. Charles is an accomplished  model railroader as well. This authentic yard is at Portland, Oregon. Check the ATVR links to visit Charles recreation of Southern Pacific in HO scale!

3119Intriguing storyteller, the Rio Grande is one of the show within shows.

oldupFrequent and varied, multiple custom maps put the routes and locations in perspective. Thorough map coverage has system type maps for roads merged into UP, such as: Southern Pacific, Rio Grande, Missouri Pacific and Chicago Northwestern. Close up maps like Cajon Pass, are another welcome inclusion.

cnw6819Chicago was a key gateway, that had been long coveted for a direct connection. While joint CNW-UP power and cabooses could be seen for years in the area. It wasn’t until CNW was absorbed in 1995 … and that is explained in detail.

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tucson                                       Outside of Tucson, Arizona in the 1990’s.

1996spSharp video from 1996 documents trains in the Tehacapi Loop vicinity.

ti1t                                            Classic shot at Tehachapi Loop.

aftonUnusual locations set this apart from many modern train videos of UP. Exhilarating cinematography, that is far ahead of crossing gate scenes of many others. Afton Canyon is a must see.

1965m.That 1965 Ford Mustang is a match for the year of this street running local.

Union Pacific Scrapbook is an excellent show for railfans and model railroaders. The vintage portions are a smaller percentage in this release. Get Union Pacific Vintage West first, if you want many classic trains. Consider this one as a look at Union Pacific in the mid 1990’s. That will be great for those who are seeking double stacks and third generation locomotives. The modern slant is not my particular preference.

Any fan of this contemporary era of railroading, will be very happy with this program.

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Southern Pacific Scrapbook

Southern Pacific Scrapbook

Charles Smiley Presents

Format: DVD (factory pressed)

Length: 1 hour 30 minutes + previews

Time Period: 1985- 1997

Locations: Tehachapi, Santa Cruz, Tucson, Benson, Stockton, Coast Line, Vesona Branch, Ione Branch, Surf and much more..

Sources: Gino Pagliaro, Charles Smiley, and      Jim Escalante

MSRP: 26.50

Charles Smiley showcases Southern Pacific Railroad. Arizona and California in the 1990’s, along with earlier 1985 footage. Scrapbook is a fitting title selection. Many locations are visited. Famous ones such as Tehachapi Loop. Branchlines that are not often seen in this timeframe, and southern Arizona action. An array of train types. Sugar beets, oil cans, double stacks,manifests, coal, locals, and helpers. Passenger trains, SP and  Amtrak.

It is interesting to note, this is an older release from CSP. The benchmarks of his productions are here, albeit in sometimes an earlier incarnation. There are plenty of custom maps to sort out the locations. A simplified version compared to recent years visually, they are equally effective in function.

Another notable inclusion. Charles Smiley has plenty of his own camerawork in this production. You can have fun and try to discern a number of his shots. Well composed, detailed and with a unique, often artistic viewpoint. This alone makes this show worth seeing. Hint: watch Donner Pass Thunder, as that Donner video was shot by Gino. You will notice the two styles from the cameramen. Both are excellent!

Tehachapi Loop is visited. Southern pacific circa 1994.

Another Charles Smiley standard. Multiple viewpoints that add to the railfan’s delight.

California features a plethora of colorful scenes. Santa Cruz street running.

Arizona landscape is a contrast to most of California. The Sonoran Desert is different than the Mohave. Fine looking and varied, graphics are interspersed through the show.

The Lordsburg district is in Arizona. Vast deserts combine with mountain backdrops here. Tucson has some vintage locomotives. SP’s mainline is a busy one.

A remote bridge, in Arizona, provides some great trainwatching.

Stockton Junction has a classic ATSF tower, with a nice long visit. Besides SP, Union Pacific and Santa Fe have trackage here.

Check these three GP9’s on an intermodal move!

The older film, from 1985, fills out the story. Here a Coast starlight is paced near Sea Cliff behind a pair of SDP-45 locomotives.

Charles has conveyed the scarcity of rail traffic at some locations. This show was filmed over a period of years. It is an intriguing assortment, of trains and locales.

Territory from the Pacific Ocean to the Mohave Desert gives viewers a variety of landscapes.

                                                   Amtrak Coast Starlight.

                                        Lompoc Branch that begins at Surf.

A little cab ride footage from one of the best seats on a US railroad!

Southern Pacific Scrapbook contains the vision of any Charles Smiley Presents. A wealth of fine cinematography and great audio, that creates one highlight after another. History, contemporary action and inside stories, that give viewers an entertaining, and informative program.

Rating: 5 Stars

Santa Fe Mainline Memories

Santa Fe Mainline Memories

Great American Train Ride (deluxe boxset)

Railway Productions/ Topics

Format: DVD

Length: 1 hour 40 minutes

Time Period: 1995

Locations: Chicago to Los Angeles mainline

Producer: Les Jarrett

A grand tour of the Santa Fe mainline. The producer has a unique way of traversing this mainline. The Chicago to Los Angeles trip in under two hours. His focus is directly on the 1995 Santa Fe, with some history.

This is available as a single disc. Also is 1 of 4 DVD’s in Great American Train Ride by Topics Entertainment. Yes, all of these shows will be reviewed on ATVR.

Each subdivision is looked at, and traveled! Very comprehensive program.

For a 1995 journey, this is an interesting program. Santa Fe has many of it’s 1990’s Superfleet locomotives on the hot intermodals. Conveniently, the Superfleet stable gets a quick overview. Blue and yellow warbonnets are still very plentiful.

The train consists are generally unexciting. Unless you just have to see a piggyback train ,where the diesels roll on by, and then trailers that read:, JB Hunt, JB Hunt, JB Hunt… Outside of that problem, inherent in many post 1990’s shows, there are plenty of captivating subjects along the route itself.

In a rather brilliant bit of decision making, the producer gives a tour de force. He serves up, a generous helping of: cities, stations, crew change points, yards and plenty of beautiful scenery. By including a look at the towns and surrounding areas, we get the flavor of Santa Fe. The mainline memories.

Transporting into the cabs of Santa Fe locomotives give us the premium view from the train. There are multiple rides like this. A stunning one, is crossing a bridge at the Missouri River. Check all of the lattice and trusses!

Narration is excellent on this show. Current operations and status of what is seen. Historical info that adds background. Sometimes a bit nostalgic, but always engaging.

Beginning in Chicago at Corwith Yard. We travel westward towards California. Passing through wooded Willow Springs and into Lemont. We arrive and visit Joliet Union Station. This is a blueprint for this show. Roll off many miles, see towns, stations, add a highlight.

Variety then, actually lies within the journey across the mainline to California.

Good map displays and frequent usage makes sense of the vast amount of mileage covered. The Santa Fe trip is broken down into the subdivisions of the railroad. They range from about 150 to 280 miles. Some are well known. Chillicothe from Chicago. Seligman has Arizona to Needles, CA.

This has many stations and division point structures. Large ones like, Amarillo, Belen,  Flagstaff. Smaller stations such as: Henrietta, Carrollton, Kiowa, Galesburg. Division points with impressive ones that are mostly out of service in Argentine, Chillicothe, Seligman, Barstow, San Bernadino. Classics that appear in vintage films like Vaughn, NM.

There are plenty of Amtrak trains. The Southwest Chief is encountered frequently.

Scenery is an element that constantly evolves. From the big city, to farmlands. Texas, green in the east, to the drier plains west. New Mexico with it’s rock faces and moody look. Arizona with that authentic western flavor. Into California, across the Mohave desert, to Barstow. Onwards to the Cajon sub.

By 1995, the once important San Bernadino was being transformed into an intermodal facility.

Abo Canyon is one very scenic area for Santa Fe. Cajon Pass was a photographic hotspot since the days of steam. Both landmark locales get extended visits.

Canyon Diablo, in  Arizona gets a brief visit. Flagstaff, Kingman and Seligman, as well. Arizona gets good coverage, as do the rest of the states.

We end up at Hobart yard in LA. An abrupt end to our long journey. It is as if time ran out.

This is a dynamic show. The viewer will gain a vast amount of experience of this mainline.

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Early Diesels 2

Early Diesels 2                                                     

Greg Scholl Video Productions

Format: DVD

Length: 57 minutes+previews

Time Period: 1989- 1999

Locations: Western USA

Source: Greg Scholl

MSRP: 29.95

Early Diesels 2 is the next entry in this fine series about first generation locomotives. More variety and focused mainly in the Western United States. This volume is a fitting continuation as Greg Scholl had found even more rare diesels that were operating, well past their prime years of mainline service.

These shows are all business. It is our kind of business. Trains.

CSVP has: natural sound audio, sharp video and straight ahead narration. This volume provides some maps. High quality production throughout. Some highlights now…

Council Bluffs is our first stop. We see a BN SD-9 and SW1000 on a transfer in 1989.

Chicago Central has former orange and white GP10 from Illinois Central Gulf. The ‘near beer’ Chicago Central green diamonds, look like the original Illinois Central logo, from a distance. Reminds me of Chicago, to see the GP10 switching a yard. Satisfies!

Trona, California with the well-known Baldwin AS-616 silver locomotives. Any big Baldwin is rare. One of those engines appears to be on replacement trucks. The Trona Railway was a Borax railroad hauler originally, with an interesting history. Good visit to this location.

Alberta Prairie resembles the 1950’s era Canadian National. SW1200 is a former CN unit. Montana Rail Link was known for starting up with older EMD power. Some MRL painted GP9’s on a freight are seen. A fast look at each road are seen.

Apache Railway had an Alco fleet in 1991. A trio of C-420 locomotives are trotted out to work. Assemble a train to interchange with Santa Fe. The classic Alco burble is clearly heard, as the engines move around. The line is 45 miles from Snowflake to Holbrook, AZ. Next, the train is seen traversing the track, headed to Holbrook. We chase it and the Alcos smoke black, like they should. A great visit, to a small railroad, in the desert.

Odd looking and rare Alco C415 locos power a dinner train in Oregon.

Mount Hood Railroad operates in Oregon. An ex: Southern Pacific GP9 hauls mixed trains. It has a factory low hood from EMD. An extended chapter on this operation.

Santa Fe Southern is located in Santa Fe,New Mexico. A rebuilt GP9 is now a GP16 standard. It does mixed train service there on ex: ATSF track. Excursions, dinner trains and the freight too.

Same basic concept as seen in Volume One. The addition of some map references, are a nice addition. Another solid release in the Early Diesels series. This one is a shade under the first volume for excitement. Get it individually, or in the 3 volume set. These are the final years of these venerable classic locomotives. Nice for the railfan and collectors. The variety makes the hour pass quickly.

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars