Today’s Chicago Railroads

TCR-DVD

Producer: Pentrex

Timeframe: 1991

Locations: Many

Length: 2 hours

Do you like variety? Chicago provides the Motherlode! This guided tour, of Chicago and vicinity, will satisfy most any Railfan. Fallen flags, local lines and pre- merger roads. Many old Towers are shown.

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Pentrex maximized their time in the field. Concentrating on classic hotspots. Crossings, Yards, Towers are generally, multi- Railroad locations. Busy mainlines, can provide ample supply. Frequent trains are practically a lock.

All the best of the Pentrex production team results in a smooth and well paced program.

Familiar voice of David Drui performs the informative and balanced narrative.

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There is a detailed, Chapter Menu. A master map, with nearly 2 dozen locations. Many close-up maps, as needed. Highly organized.

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Pentrex states that they only have room to hit the highlights of what they have. Likewise with my review. There is so much more to see!

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As the sign says. To The Trains…

Alco C424 of Chicago Belt Railway.

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Best place to begin the tour. Is the center of the city. That is Union Station. Full visit. visit. Amtrak’s yard is plentiful. Burlington Northern commuters run behind the E9 locomotives, as well.

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State Line Tower is far south. Norfolk Southern and CSX. Illinois – Indiana line.

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Speaking of towers. Van Loon Tower, is located in Indiana. Elgin, Joliet & Eastern with an SD40, in fresh paint. Norfolk Southern intersects here. I-80 is above.

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Blue Island has always been one of the best hotspots. Many roads move through here.

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Chessie System, now CSX, with a long lash-up of light locomotives. Barr Yard is nearby, not visited. Blue Island action.

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Dolton Jct. is very popular now. Easy to access, for railfans. CSX, Conrail and more.

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More.. A grimy Missouri Pacific pair, trundle through Dolton.

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McCook Crossing, features the busy Santa Fe Mainline. Multiple ATSF, trains passby. Willow Springs is next. Pre UPS days there.

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The details of the trackage at McCook. Everyone seemed to exercise trackage rights, on the Indiana Harbor Belt!

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Old, beater CNW geeps are seen here.

Grand Trunk , Chessie, IHB, Amtrak too.

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WICT F units at Edgewood are a rare sight! Wisconsin and Calumet. Later, became part of Wisconsin and Southern. The road was called Wicket, for short.

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A Soo Line switch job receives a detailed chase. A low speed one. Street running at Goose Island. A truncated version is on Street Running by Pentrex.

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The Burlington Northern Racetrack is a must see on any Chicago visit.

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BN executive F units appear at Clyde yard in Cicero. You never know what shows up!

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Hawthorne yard, has Belt Tower . This is visited inside. A former Illinois Central structure. Chicago Central was here. This structure, is gone now.

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Brighton Park has a full – on stop. Rare, a Switchtender with a shanty. A GT transfer caboose, hits the diamonds.

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Illinois Central SW14s on their ex: GM&O trackage. Note the unusual, hip cab roofs.

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CR 5032 is next to get the wave at Brighton.

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Bensenville is now a Soo Line stronghold. The former Milwaukee Road facilities are huge. A freshly painted SD40 powers a hot Soo Sprint train past B-17 tower.

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The engine house and Bensenville yard run right along a public road.

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Grand Trunk near Hayford Junction.

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Hegewisch still has electric interurban service. Chicago South Shore Line.

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Chicago and Northwestern, has a major line in a Westerly direction, from Proviso Yard. Union Pacific run through units are common. Metra is the local commuter service. Proviso Yard, is not seen in this show.

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Chicago Short Line is another rare find.

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Many of the trains, still employ a caboose. The Indiana Harbor Belt used these home built transfer ones for many years.

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Pentrex has knocked it out of the park. A home run! An instant classic. This show will give viewers a high rerun value. There is simply, an astounding amount of various, and interesting trains. Outstanding videography, that hits the mark!

Rating: 5 Stars

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Mullan Pass

VR025-DVD

Producer: Pentrex

Timeframe: 1990

Locations: Helena, Greenhorn Trestle, Blossberg Tunnel

Length: One hour

Source: Video Rails

The Continental Divide in Montana. Burlington Northern and Montana Rail Link trains, need helpers to conquer the tough mountain grades. Horseshoe curves, long trestles and Mullan Tunnel. These 29 miles are Mullan Pass.

Complete coverage of the area. Cab ride across the line. BN  local freight travels the area.

Video Rails was known for fine shows. Pentrex has done the conversion to DVD. There is a detailed Chapter Menu. A bonus preview section.

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Jim Knight is the narrator for Video Rails. He does a fine performance. Intelligent script, that is informative, if a bit dramatic

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Videography is professional. Audio is professional, as well. This is very close to watching a Pentrex original program.

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Montana Rail Link crews drive all trains, under Burlington Northern operating authority.

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Helena yard is the start of this territory. This is old Northern Pacific trackage. As the station is, that looks well preserved. The steep grade upward ensues.

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A BN coal train . Mid train helpers cut in. Rear helpers. This MRL #212, is the SD40, that will be the Cab Ride engine.

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The open country allows for panoramic views. Coal trains can use 45,000 horsepower!

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A variety of terrain. Cameras seem to get most of the mileage that constitutes Mullan Pass.

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One trestle has a good view for photography.

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At Blossberg Tunnel. Air respirators need to be used. Worse for helpers.

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The final Chapter is the cab ride on MRL 212. It is on the lead, as a helper on a BN freight. The camera pans around, to provide good viewing. That is mucho horsepower on the head end!

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The tunnel entrance appearance from the cab.

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Mullan Pass

A compact program. Delivers on the advertised. See BN and MRL powered trains, struggle to haul freight over, the tough Mullan Pass. Ride aboard the lead helper, on an MRL SD40, as it helps a BN local over the line.

Filmed and recorded in a professional manner. A fine narrative. What’s not to like? An enjoyable show for everyone!

Rating: 5 Stars

 

Western Rails

Western_Rails-Train_DVD

Producer: Greg Scholl

Timeframe: 1994-97

Locations: CA, CO, IA, KS, NM, WY

Length: One hour

Source: Greg Scholl

A tour of various locations in the Western States. Sweeping across the Plains to California. Many railroads are viewed. Various cameos are additional. All combined into this show. Unique viewpoints on numerous shots. There are a cornucopia of scenes.

Narrator, is the familiar voice of Greg Hingsbergen. He always does a fine job.

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Natural audio on a live soundtrack. The only issues, are some loud levels on freeway traffic.

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Pro level videography. All production aspects are professional. Tight edits. A well paced program. Greg always has an appreciation for nature. A good amount for balance. No extra charge!

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A detailed Chapter Menu is included. A generous Preview section. This with a detailed Menu, as well. Split into American and Canadian preview lists.

There are minor maps. Just enough to orient the audience. Good enough.

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Kansas City Southern, in an intriguing view. Burlington, Iowa. Mississippi River.

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Santa Fe warbonnets, with Union Pacific passenger cars. Topeka, Kansas. See the show, for more details on this scene.

vlcsnap-2019-03-27-10h51m37s581There is much variety in this show. Former Rio Grande Potash branch, near Moab, Utah.

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Santa Fe Southern. Lamy, New Mexico.

vlcsnap-2019-03-27-10h39m11s606Enjoy these two for one scenes! A BNSF train waits at Dotsero, Colorado. While the Union Pacific moves up the Tennessee Pass route. Nice sequence.

vlcsnap-2019-03-27-10h36m11s013The Southwest Chief. Amtrak fans, will get serviced, more than once, in Western Rails. 

vlcsnap-2019-03-27-10h48m27s336Southern Pacific meet in Utah. May 94.

vlcsnap-2019-03-27-10h52m25s063Burlington Northern. Sheridan, Wyoming. A crew change point.

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SD70MAC engines with a long coal train.

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Columbia River Gorge. This is an extended Chapter. Burlington Northern on the one side. Georgeous area.

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Union Pacific rails on the other. One of several scenic highlights!

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California is next on the journey. Southern Pacific’s Coast Line. Trains in scenery, type of cinematography. Spectacular views here!

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Tehachapi Loop gets a brief visit in 1995. Southern Pacific with a GP60. Two pushers on the rear. Unusual, to see a GP60 lead versus SD class locomotives.

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Western Rails

An interesting compilation, that delivers on the advertised. This whirlwind tour should contain, something for everyone. A favorite Railroad, or a location. Likely, more than one. Perhaps, viewers may find new interests.

This is a fine train program. Compact and action packed! Great cinematography. Excellent for: Railfans, Model Railroaders and the family.

Rating: 5 Stars

 

 

Covered Wagons of the Cascade

Covered-Wagons-of-the-Cascade--CWC-DVD

Producer: Pentrex

Timeframe: 1970s

Locations: Portland, Chicago, Washington state

Length: 48 minutes

Source: Nick Muff

Burlington Northern F units are the stars of the show. Washington state. Operating in the forests. Near the Canadian border. At the end of their heyday. In the 1970s.

The rest of this program fills out the agenda. Covered wagons vis-a-vis: E-units. Albeit a few Chicago blink and you will miss them! Also, a little bit at Portland station.

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Nice restoration of color 8mm film. The post production work makes a huge difference! No comparison to unrestored 8mm collections. Very good to near exellent view quality.

A chapter menu. Minimal effectiveness. Sort is for the 2 terminals and Washington.

Original audio recordings by the Cinematographer. These begin with a primitive cassette, player recorder. Many kids owned one back in the 1970s. Me too.

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You will immediately become aware of the  benefits for dubbing. The early tracks are weak. Notice the narrator speaking right over those.

Fortunately, the soundtrack significantly improves. Yet, there are some instances where some alternative would have better.

vlcsnap-2019-03-10-10h19m20s620Portland in June 1971 had some interesting units. That BN F is in passenger, hockey stick paint!

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We move onward to the meat and potatoes. Washington state is where the early Electromotive units are operating. This will include some GP9 and brethern.

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The F7 units were often seen leading.

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Our Cameramen was probably a friendly guy. He received an invitation to ride. Checkout the local tavern!

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Pure F unit lash-ups can still be seen.

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As can a chicken wire F3B!

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Model Railroaders, will find a healthy supply of potential models and consist examples.

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Many freight cars are shown as the trains roll by. We are near the Canadian border. Hence, many CP Rail.

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Life’s not perfect. Stuck with a GP9 leading! If things only got this bad. Ha! Even this is a winner.

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Canadian Pacific is the local interchange partner. A trio of geeps. Check the old paint scheme, on the middle unit.

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One has to appreciate the caboose being included on each train. As it should be!

Anyone with an interest in vintage F7 units or Burlington Northern should enjoy this show. Professional production. A little weak on some of the audio, that keep it from a higher rating. No worries. Get it for the film.

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

The Joint Line

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Producer: Pentrex

Timeframe: 1990s

Locations: CO.

Length: 85 minutes

A mutually operated Colorado line. Highlights include: Denver, Castle Rock, Palmer Lake and Pueblo. Filmed over a 4 year period. The mid 90’s.

This show has four main railroads. Burlington Northern, Santa Fe, Southern Pacific and Rio Grande.

The expected Pentrex standard of excellence is here. Everything is proper and as it should be. Early map reference outlines what constitutes The Joint Line. A detailed Chapter Menu. Preview section.

Balanced and intelligent narration. It backs off, to let the viewer observe and listen to some trains. Nicely done.

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Burlington Northern is the dominant player here. Mainly due to extensive coal trains. Cascade Green fans will be very pleased.

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Santa Fe has plenty on tap. Fresh red and silver warbonnets abound! Blue and yellow scheme, too.

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Southern Pacific was releasing speed lettered repaints, on fresh rebuilds. Plus, a smattering of Cotton Belt units.

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Denver and Rio Grande Western. Now, that’s a different picture. Grimy for the most part. Road numbers are often tough to read.

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A colorful assortment of run through power. Conrail, Kansas City Southern, LMX, Norfolk Southern, Soo Line, Union Pacific and more!

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Let’s look at some Kansas City Southern. A white ghost is buried in the consist.

Pentrex delves into the long history of The Joint Line. Effective usage of old photos. They certainly go the extra mile.

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Colorado has varied scenery. This line begins with the small cityscape, of South Denver.

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Obligatory Amtrak image. Here you go.

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Onward, we take a long look around The Joint. Arid high country.

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Pretty lakeside vista at Palmer Lake.

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What a gorgeous town to watch trains.

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Surprise snowstorm encountered due to elevation.

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Coal is always a big commodity. More BN.

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Handy lesson on Pusher/ Helper service!

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An old Santa Fe bridge gets busy.

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Santa Fe ran a hot intermodal Quality train.

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Burlington Northern was highlighted with their new SD70MAC locomotives.

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Southern Pacific is shown with an old GP9. Check that Kodachrome paint!

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BN was still using a contraption called a caboose!

The Joint Line.

An exceptional visit to this scenic Colorado rail line. Nice additions, with history and a few older train moves. Expert cinematography and production.

Four classic railroads. A great area with scenery and history. This one is a no brainer.

Rating: 5 Stars