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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Michigan and Ohio Railroads in the late 1970’s

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Producer: C Vision

Timeframe: late 1970s

Locations: MI +OH

Length: 1 hour 20 minutes

Source: Fred Crissey

Take a whirlwind tour back into the late 1970s. A cornucopia of locations. Multiple railroads. Some rarities that are worth the price of admission!

Fred Crissey was a busy Cinematographer. He was traveling in Michigan and Ohio here. Using an 8mm movie camera. All color film.

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A detailed Chapter Menu. On screen location graphics.

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Plenty of handy little maps.Switchable On/Off music. There are no train sounds.

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Full narration. A good script. Provides details on used locomotives. Certain train movements. Many of the lines. Probably, as complete as Fred’s notes.

Don Grant performs a smooth narrative.

Films are very clean overall. Color balance is very good. Well preserved.

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The show begins with a long Detroit, Toledo and Ironton segment. A show within the show.

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A scene of Street running in Ironton.

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Fred also shows trains, in context.

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He could do the mood shots too!

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The early Conrail material is the bomb! Much better than some of the competition. The paint still appears new on several ‘cockroach’ repaints.

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Former Penn Central F7A #1707 hits the diamonds. Renumbered in April, 1976.

vlcsnap-2019-05-26-14h56m20s749 Two Alco RS3 locomotives ,and a Baldwin. These on Michigan Northern. Rare film. This train is chased from Cadillac, Michigan. Former, Chicago and Northwestern 1617. The 2036 is an ex: Southern. 

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Alexis Tower is a definite highlight! A ton of action.

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Conrail paint is beginning to be seen.

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Chessie System in the 1970s was fantastic! Unmolested blue units could be seen from both; B&O plus C&O. Fred found both leading near Detroit.

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Try and find a C&O 5911 leading. A rare shot on 8mm film. Good supply of C&O.

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Chessie System steam suddenly appears!

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There is not much regular Chesapeake and Ohio out there. Let’s see some more. The 3575 is a GP35, in factory EMD paint.

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Ann Arbor is visited.

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You are asking. What about Grand Trunk? Only this one. Canadian National is present, as well.

Remember , the rarities in this show.

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A plethora of rolling stock is included, as this Burlington Route box car. He sometimes shows the entire train. Albeit, the shorter ones. Model Railroader alert!

vlcsnap-2019-05-26-15h16m19s337In fact, he did it here. Check the C&O caboose. Enjoy all of the hard to find C&O!

 

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A fun trip back to a favorite time of mine. The variety really gets rolling, and you never know what’s next. Much like the old days!

A solid show. Must see for 70’s railfans.

Rating: 4 Stars

 

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

Illinois Junctions

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Producer: Greg Scholl

Timeframe: 2003

Locations: Watseka, Gilman, Tolono, Sidney, Tuscola

Length: 2 hours

Sources: Greg Scholl, Lee Jarrett

 

Five hot spots located in Central Illinois. Crossing trackage is the key. Maximum train action. Some names are familiar. Gilman, is a well known location, from Illinois Central days. Others, might be new.

Chapter Menu. Accessible via the five locations.

Narrated by Greg Higgensberger. Script is on the basic end. Lightly narrated. Favors train sounds. Enough detail to maintain interest and basic information.

Watseka

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Alco used as switcher.

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Canadian National travels through the town.

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CSX move with a former Conrail on the lead.

Gilman

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All locations include a map. Gilman.

vlcsnap-2019-05-05-08h13m56s225Known for Illinois Central. That paint can still be seen here!

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Canadian National has taken over.

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Rail America has interchange business.

Tolono

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Not much here. Except a bunch of trains! Norfolk Southern dominates.

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Union Pacific on the crossing.

Sidney. Singular, with this old Wabash bridge.

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A former Wabash line. Norfolk Southern runs many trains here.

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Several Union Pacific moves underneath.

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The second camera is minimal throughout. Only shows for the last train at Sidney. Breaks the monotony.

Tuscola

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Another busy place. CSX has a former B&O route.

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Amtrak has a crew change point.

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Union Pacific also appears on the other tracks.

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A busy show, at the featured hot spots. Smooth running production. Feels strange, with only Illinois Central as a traditional roadname, on these lines. Amtrak, as well.

That is indicative of changing times. Canadian National, Norfolk Southern and Rail America, a part of that changing face.

If you like this modern era. An enjoyable two hours at these locations.

Still, a good program for those who prefer the good old days. Enough variety and plenty of action.

Rating: 4 Stars

Chicagoland Tower Views

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Producer: Michael Pirelli

Timeframe: 1999- 2000

Locations: Southside + Indiana

Length: 63 minutes

Source: Machines of Iron

Take a tour of 13 Chicago area Railroad towers. These are mainly inside visits. Southside area. All the way down to Hammond, IN.  These old towers, amoung the last ones operating.

Each tower has a map with trackage. An exterior view of the structure. Shots of the boards and levers.

Brighton Park shows all, except a train.

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A Chapter Menu is provided. A choice of on/ off narration. Smooth edits. Well paced.

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Too much to cover. Some highlights…

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Camerawork is steady. Some views are negatively affected by dirty windows. These units are going to Willow Springs.

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This local with ; Grand Trunk and Canadian National power. Rolls on former: Gulf, Mobile & Ohio trackage, to nearby Glenn Yard.

The narrative is limited. Rich Melvin does a fine job. Script is fine overall.

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State Line Tower, with some complicated trackage.

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Amtrak 305 to St Louis, at Corwith.

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Corwith Tower is an original Santa Fe. Serves BNSF here.

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Part of the board inside of Corwith.

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Blue Island Junction is an all time, classic hotspot. One of Chicago’s busiest!

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Wisconsin Central travels through Blue Island Junction.

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Blue Island. Iowa Interstate departs the old Rock Island, Burr Oak Yard. Vermont Street.

vlcsnap-2019-04-24-16h26m05s719State Line Tower has a long history. Once had over 200 levers! An original hotspot.

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A CSX locomotive leads through, Dolton. This location is action packed!!

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Indiana Harbor Belt had purchased some ex: Illinois Central Gulf SD20 rebuilds.

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Ash Street takes the cake, for a small tower. It is electrically operated. Chicago River is nearby.

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Conrail paint still appears, as at Calumet Tower. East Chicago. SD40-2 on a light move.

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This Norfolk Southern on a light engine move is at State Line Tower. On former N&W trackage.

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The video is shot well. Consider the premise. Tower views. Obstructed views. Not an easy task.

Metra locomotives sure are ugly! Gresham.

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Canadian Pacific with Soo Line, at Blue Island Crossing.

vlcsnap-2019-04-24-14h32m55s483Plenty of action at Hohman Tower.

vlcsnap-2019-04-24-14h30m19s794Hohman Avenue crosses into Hammond, Indiana. An Indiana Harbor Belt transfer run to and from Gibson Yard. Hohman Tower is now closed.

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A rare drawbridge operation is seen.

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Viewers get a chance to tour some of the last operating towers in the Chicagoland area. An interesting trip, which includes some locations that are uncommon.

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A worthy addition to any train video collection. Just a bit different!

Rating: 5 Stars