The Fifties Express

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Producer: William Brown

Timeframe: 1950s

Locations: USA, Canada

Length: 52 minutes

Source: Irving E. August

Irving August is a notable railroad Cinematographer, from the 1950s. This impressive all color collection, is a wide ranging one. Covering a variety of lines, in the United States, and Canada.

Steam and early diesel. Electrified lines. Freight and passenger trains. An ore hauler. A tourist line.vlcsnap-2019-05-31-17h24m31s999

Mr. August filmed in high quality 16mm! A mixture of music, and train sounds. No additional extras.

Rege Cordic is the familiar voice on WB Video. He does a professional job.

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At under an hour, the pace is fast. Some of the edits are abrupt. Given the limitations of the period equipment. He probably ran out of film. For the rarity, it is a wash. Rather see those trains.

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Each railroad is billboarded. The corresponding footage is then shown. The earliest date quoted is 1950.

There is even more! Here are some highlights. Figure that it was probably the best of his own feels. More or less.

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Canadian National is west of Montreal.

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Boston and Maine. Pacific power on locals.

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New Haven is chased on a fantrip.

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Baltimore and Ohio. Action packed. Plenty of trains here Steam and diesel.

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Western Maryland, is using steam and diesels. Mid-train helpers and pushers.

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Milwaukee Road Little Joe electric locomotives, in rarely seen paint.

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New York Central has several trains.

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Nickel Plate Road, shared the right of way with New York Central, in Westfield, Ohio. Number 748 is one of the Berkshire class.

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Norfolk and Western, is one of the longest chapters. Although, there are no designated chapters, on a menu. Focus on the behemoth Y-6 class. The 600 series passenger locomotives are seen.

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An unusual scene. N&W work train in a backup move.

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Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range. Another extensive visit. Yellowstone’s, for certain.

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Canadian Pacific receives lengthy attention around scenic Kicking Horse Pass. Including some footage from a passenger car.

vlcsnap-2019-05-31-18h01m04s354Two for CP. Need a Selkirk. A beauty!

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Northern Pacific steam is hard to find. Irving has some here.

vlcsnap-2019-05-31-17h54m35s448A large coaling tower gives the feel of keeping large steam in service. Northern Pacific.

vlcsnap-2019-05-31-17h18m24s280Similar scene on Central Vermont.

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Caboose on Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range. The majority of cabooses were shades of red. These are standouts!

The Fifties Express

An Express tour seeing over a dozen railroads in the fabulous 1950’s. A fine presentation. Suitable for family viewing.

Rating: 5 Stars

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Into the ’90’s GT-2

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Producer: Todd Miller

Timeframe: 1993- 94

Locations: Battle Creek to Port Huron

Length: 2 hours

Source: Todd Miller, Dale Devene, Paul Geiger

The official description is a stretch. I was deciding, between this and GT-1. Both at two hours. This GT-2, had a few things going in its favor. I chose this, based on the advertised inclusions.

Steam, 1980s footage and Battle Creek. Does it include those items? Barely!

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You get several scenes of steam. A couple of scenes that is the 1980s. A few minutes total.

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Major GT yard at Battle Creek. I expected this to be a show highlight. Wait for it… A single aerial flyover!

Not a good start. There is more. Getting ahead of the review.

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The show is narrated by Todd Miller. He seemed to be self sufficient. His Videography is pretty good overall.

His post production work has good points. There are other areas needing help.

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The good. Maps are included in the program. Timely referenced. On screen graphics, with locations and milepost.

Weak are the lighting. Some scenes need the brightness lowered. Early on, this is annoying on the 1994 video. It settles down. No Chapter Menu.

vlcsnap-2019-05-26-08h11m23s180Another area is the audio. Edit the volume on some of these crossing gate scenes. Fortunately, locations are included that are away from crossing gates.

Worst issue is the DVD transfer!

Ever wonder what it would be like to see your old worn out VHS tape on a DVD? Step right in.

Constant, roll and flutter is a distraction. A couple of sections, I thought the tape was being eaten! Only to remember, this is on a disc.

The former 2 tape set, is loaded with flaws. Wonder, why they could not have sourced a set of tapes in better condition?

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Now, after all these issues. The actual show, is a decent visit to the Grand Trunk.

The beginning is at the throat of Battle Creek Yard. A train exiting the area. Program travels towards Canada.

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Durand is one of two extended show highlights. This visit overstays a little bit.

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A long lash-up at Durand.

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A connecting line provides some relief. Central Michigan. The sound of these General Electric locomotives, is a sweet symphony!

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Unexpected, is the amount of online grain elevators.

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At Flint, the famous Grand Funk bridge.

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Canadian Pacific rolls through the territory.

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 Not mentioned in the narrative. Several Amtrak trains, are joint USA and Canadian. Hence, the Via locomotives and Amtrak coaches.

vlcsnap-2019-05-26-08h14m15s559Getting far north at Tappan. This freight has it’s destination at Burlington Northern’s Clyde Yard. BN also is seen earlier,with coal.

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CSX appears with intersecting trackage and various moves. Again with their yard and action at Port Huron.

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Port Huron contains another extended segment. A fascinating look at those: yard, ferry and tunnel operations!

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This GP15 looks dwarfed by the auto racks. Too tall for the current tunnel. They need the river ferry. Three Railroads operate ferries here.

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Focused discussion of yard operation. Details given a detailed look. Plenty of Canadian National movement here.

vlcsnap-2019-05-26-08h46m33s365Canadian National power muscles out of the tunnel beneath the Saint Clair River. Note the construction equipment, building the new tunnel.

 

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The single GT caboose on a train. This from the 1980s freight, constituting one half of that feature.

Into the ’90’s GT-2.

The description fails to deliver on the advertised. A reasonable expectation would be more time on the items, I brought up.

The VHS transfer quality is a dog. Seems like, better tapes could have been applied.

I would have chosen Volume One. Had this been described more accurately.

It is still a good show overall. Lower rating for the sloppy source and transfer.

Rating: 3 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

Today’s Maine Railroads

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Producer: Pentrex

Timeframe: 1990’s

Locations: Maine

Length: 1 hour 40 min.

A colorful show. Maine railroading in the early 1990’s. Interesting, with the usual, and the unexpected.

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Springfield Terminal, is Guilford’s version of the Maine Central. This is the major carrier in the state. Boston and Maine, lettering on numerous Guilford’s diesels. Plenty of traffic here.

Bangor and Aroostook, is still operating up there. Some locals get filmed.

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Interchange partner CP Rail is expected. The MLW built Alco designed power a surprise. These MLW C424 series bring a freight train.

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While, Maine Coast Shortline is a contrast to those. You will find even more.

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Pentrex has the top shelf quality in every fashion! All production is professional level.

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Maps are plentiful. Frequently referenced and carefully explained. Excellent! On screen graphics, displayed as needed. Assorted information.

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Each subject railroad receives a brief but effective, class like attention.

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Sometimes, the location becomes the dominant subject. Otherwise, the operation. Whatever tells the story best.

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Cinematography is first rate. All weather. Day or night. The camera crew never closes! At least it seems that way.

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Ambient audio is, balanced and clean. Very nicely done.

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The fine narrative is balanced, as well. An informative script does provide good background on the locales.

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Locomotives are discussed in some detail, at times. Example, as to where used engines were purchased.

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Saint Lawrence & Atlantic. Another shortline that is featured. Runs a few former Central Vermont GP9 units.

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Bangor and Aroostock still has quite a bit of equipment up there. This program includes looking at much of that. In service or not. Rigby Yard visit.

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Belfast & Moosehead Lake is another contrast. Tourist train line, with diminutive 70 tonners.

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An armstrong turntable at the small roundhouse. Look at those three men shoving… Armstrong!!! Receive a tour of this line. Belfast to Brooks.

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Those grey painted locomotives keep showing up. Not a bad thing.

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Beautiful Maine scenery along the routes.

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Not a caboose to be found on the mainlines.

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Bangor and Aroostook plow waits for the next big snowstorm…

Today’s Maine Central.

A general tour of Maine railroading. Class One and small shortlines, are  given a comprehensive overview. An excellent program. Pentrex with another fine one!

Rating: 5 Stars

A 1960’s Train Travelogue

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C Vision Productions

Length: 65 minutes

Time Period: 1960’s

Locations: Marinette, Charleston, Naperville, Ontario, Wisconsin and more..

Sources: Joe Siedl,. Lynn Longley

MSRP: 29.95

C Vision surprises us, with another new source of upper midwest vintage railroading. This cinematographer also traveled to Canada. There are some hard to find lines and locomotives. Mid 1960’s timeframe is highly desirable. Filmed in color, on Super 8mm.

soo neenahJoe Siedl is the main cinematographer for this program. He had an Argus camera. Filmed alot around Marinette, Wisconsin. CNW and SOO are prominent. Canada has a big chunk of the program. Canadian Pacific, CN and Ontario Northland. Seaboard Coast Line is a highlight. Burlington Route is another feature. A few GG1 electrics too.

1535CNW 1535 is a GP7, with a Fairbanks Morse Baby Trainmaster.

Don Grant narrates the show. Music background is used to fill the rest. There is an off switch for the music. The keyboard player is pretty good. Improved overall music versus older releases. Basic narration is good with: locomotive call-outs, locations and some more. I have added a little extra information, for my readers.

soo gp35 gp30 stevens point 2                  Soo Line GP35 with a GP30 are at Steven’s Point, Wisconsin.

Camera appears to be handheld. For the most part, it is steady. A few scenes have some shakes or possible film jumps. Nothing to worry about. Colors look good. Film looks original, unrestored. Composition is well done. Graphics for locations.

Chicago and North Western is loaded with freight and passenger trains. Many locomotive types. CNW fans should be satisfied.

 

cnw f7 4052A peshtigoCNW 4052A at Peshtigo, WI. This is not an F3. Rather, an F9AM. A rebuild from original FT series, built in 1945. The 4050 series are tricky, with some being F3 before rebuilding. I had to look it up. Otherwise, what a sweet scene!

cnw 901 rs27Here is CNW 901 in 1966. Misidentified as an Alco C425. It is a rare Alco RS27. This occurs more commonly then you may realize on many train videos. Not worth bothering, except this engine has an interesting history. Purchased new in 1962. Traded in with the other 3 RS27’s after only 4 years for C425 models. Alco leased it and sold it to Precision National. Leased to Canadian Pacific. Sold to GBW in 1976. On to WC in 1987. Minnesota Commercial in 1992. Interesting…back to the show.

cp alco fa fbCanadian Pacific Alco FA/ FB combo. It is a maroon and gray CP seen in this era.

dh17What amounts to small segments: Green Bay and Western, LS&I. Milwaukee Road and Great Northern. A cameo on Delaware and Hudson. Former Santa Fe PA17 heads The Laurentian.

 

Joe was stationed at Charleston, SC. Circa 1968. Worth the price of admission for this chapter. A hard to find supply of Seaboard Coast Line. A fine variety of vintage diesels.

scl 585 e7   SCL 565 is an E7A. Seen at Charleston station. Also, are rare E6 and common E8 units.

scl 2006Could have filled the page with cool shots of Seaboard Coast Line activity. SD45 displays flags because it is running extra.

scl  959The GP9, GP18 lash-up includes some interim looking paint schemes.

cbqA bunch of Chicago, Burlington and Quincy at Naperville, Ill. Even in the 60’s this was a known hotspot. Triple track mainline all the way into Chicago. The freights were to Clyde Yard. Passenger action is plentiful. All stainless passenger trains look great. Chinese red and gray on the freights is a bonafide classic. The GP20 on the lead, was a hot mainline locomotive in 1966!

cbq 4960At Baraboo, Wisconsin. The circus train with it’s very colorful consisit of classic circus wagons. These wagons are loaded on flatcars. The loading methods used by the circus industry, helped develop early piggyback transportation. In this scene, Burlington Route 4960. a 2-8-0 Light Mikado hauls the train.

pbxOntario Northland Polar Bear Express. Joe caught some rare ON freight as well. Must see.

soo fp7aA classic scene of the mid-1960’s. A single four axle EMD locomotive with a freight train. This Soo Line FP7 is a classic.

Lynn Longley’s bonus section at the end doesn’t match the quality of the main show. It will not be factored into the rating. A few minutes of 1950’s Milwaukee Road. Poor to fair at best.

scl 2007 rearNot much in the way of cabooses in this show. We shall close with a passing SD45 leading 4 F units from the SCL yard. The high horsepower units were strong entries in the headlong race for more power. Mixed in with this unusual lash-up of 1950’s era covered wagons. The F unit engines that defeated steam. A modern second generation model that would replace the earlier diesels. Atlantic Coast Line merged with Seaboard Air Line. All pass into history.

A 1960’s Train Travelogue. Here is a worthy assortment of circa 1966-67 railroading. The rarities make it one that railfans may need. It plays well and the nonstop action passes the time quickly. Overall, a nice release to add into a collection.

Rating: 4 Stars