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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Street Running

STREET-DVD.jpg

Producer: Pentrex

Timeframe: 1990- 2000s

Locations: 22 USA

Length: 1 hour 44 minutes

Street running, is a highlight on most any train program. The image is a powerful one. Class ones to shortlines. Pentrex has this compilation, from nearly two dozen USA locations.

A detailed Chapter Menu provides easy access to the choice spots. Bonus Material consists of Pentrex previews. Audio has the selection of either: On/ Off. That is for narration.

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David Drui is our familiar narrator. Smooth as glass. Tight script. All production aspects, are the usual high quality of Pentrex.

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Of note, several locations were filmed without a train. Would have liked to have seen Fort Collins, Colorado. However, they do mention a few misses at the end, including that one.

So, it  is good that Pentrex went to their vaults. Created added interest to this program. Smart move. There is plenty to see.

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Everything is separated. Billboarded, if watching it through. Available by chapter, as well. This show is jam packed!

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Time to hit some highlights. Checkout some of the many viewpoints on tap. Let’s see what’s going on, in the streets…

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LaGrange, Kentucky. CSX line. There is frequently, a train per hour here.

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Augusta, Georgia. Norfolk Southern 9003. Trains through historical district.

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Erie, PA. Canadian Pacific. Unique nowadays,  are the Crossing guard shanties.

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Oakland California. Rare, double-track street. Amtrak, is an Amtrak West  operation. According to Pentrex. Freight action is also shown at ground level.

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Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad. York, Pennsylvania. Blink twice and you will miss, this former Santa Fe CF7 rebuild unit.

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New Albany, Indiana. Canadian Pacific AC4400. This freight on CSX, is using authority from former Soo Line. This is old Monon, to Louisville route trackage. Action!

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Albany, Georgia. Norfolk Southern 3177, on ex: Central of Georgia trackage. Long hood forward built locomotive.

Columbus, GA. Another no trains.

Frederick, Maryland. Track is disconnected. They probably had to account for the trip expenses. Hence, all the zero sum screenshots. Do notice how smoothly they integrate these shots. Marietta, Ohio is the best one!

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Watsonville, California. Observe how tight street operation can be for a train. A quartet of GP40s, haul a long consist.

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Santa Cruz SP 7138. Palm trees, beaches and the Pacific Ocean! What could be better?…  Retirement! 

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Brooklyn. New York Cross Harbor Railroad. Alco S2 power. The busy switch crew is followed by the Pentrex camera. Bush Terminal vicinity. Succinct and satisifying.

Utica, NY. none. Hudson, NY. No trains.

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Chicago, Ill.  Goose Island. Soo Line, circa 1990. Check the ex: Milwaukee Road switcher, in a ‘bandit’ paint job. Have seen this footage before. So what! This fine segment fits perfectly. Tells the story. Just like, so many Charles Smiley Presents. A smart recycle. No worries!

vlcsnap-2019-04-01-10h27m32s305In the almost, but no cigar category. Amtrak Auto Train on ex: RF&P  at Ashland, Virginia. This on ballasted track, center of street. 

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San Antonio, Texas. Pearl Brewing. An electric motor connects, with Union Pacific. Texas Transportation Company.

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Chicago South Shore and South Bend. Action in Michigan City, Indiana. Electric interurban, which were born in the streets. Think about it. They should have filmed a South Shore freight train.

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Middleton, Pennsylvania. One of the last two Alco locomotives built. T6 diesel.

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Stockton, CA. Central California Traction. Not all operations filmed are daylight ones. Note the safety flare.

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St Mary’s, West Virginia. A CSX coal train, rolls by a Food Giant. Town population 2200. Took some dedication for the guys to get a daytime train.

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West Brownsville PA. is very busy for Norfolk Southern on a ex: Conrail line. Yes, this busy stretch has NS coal moves. Monongahela from the archives is better!

vlcsnap-2019-04-01-11h12m30s770Elizabeth, PA. Watch these new Electromotive built locomotives. These are former P&LE tracks. SD70MAC engines.

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Modesto, CA. Railfans choice. Former Tidewater Southern. Western Pacific. Old Mill Cafe. Ninth Street. All important to knowledgeable fans.

It is under the umbrella of Union Pacific now. The GP40 leads and obeys traffic lights. I enjoy the ,”Conductor lends a pair of eyes” about watching traffic. Look at it!

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Look at the butthead following so close! No brake lights on the coal train. Not much brain power in the car. Think about it…

Street Running

An enjoyable show. Videography is top shelf. Excellent narrative. Fine sounding audio. The brevity of each chapter, keeps the pace moving quickly. Good rerun value.

Speaking to the Pentrex comment about living next to Railroad tracks. Ever live it? Noisy, vibrates your home, and dust from those passing trains. Airhorns that blow, 24/ 7. Louder in winter too! Novelty wears off.

This program is great for everyone to see. Interesting to watch these trains. A good time for: Railfans Model Railroaders, and the whole family.

Rating: 5 Stars

Western Canada Series: Complete Set

Western Canada Series: Complete Set

Greg Scholl Video Productions

Format: 4 DVD set

Length: Over 4 hours + previews

Time Period: 1992

Locations: Transcontinental mainlines of Canadian National, and Canadian Pacific.

Canadian Rockies, Kicking Horse Pass, Yellowhead Pass, Fraser Canyon… 

Source: Greg Scholl

MSRP: 99.95
Greg Scholl’s fine Western Canada Series is available in a 4 DVD set with value pricing.

This will save you money. A discount on buying the complete series, as a set of 4 DVD’s.

The programs included are related by the scope, and time they were originally filmed. This results in a cohesive look at Canadian National and Canadian Pacific. The locations are the best of both railroads. There are 2 features on CP Rail. One feature on CN. Another show has both of the railroads sharing separate banks of a river, through scenic canyons.

Each volume is available separately as well. Previews of other Greg Scholl titles are included in each DVD. The series programs have each been individually reviewed on American Train Video Reviews. They were received as the complete set. Following is the list of the titles, with a brief synopsis. Refer to the single reviews for more details.

Canadian Pacific’s Kicking Horse Pass.

See this famous route, from Field to Lake Louise. The lower and higher spiral tunnels at Kicking Horse Pass are one of many highlights. Not a long show at 45 minutes. Every minute counts and no time is wasted. CP Rail runs many trains here. Vital part of  the transcontinental mainline.

Spectacular scenery makes this a must see program, for anyone interested in trains. The scenic wonders will be enjoyable for non trainhead people too. Fine for the woman, the kids, try it at a public trainshow. A truly wonderful journey, through one of North America’s most beautiful places.

Cab Ride Over Kicking Horse Pass.

A nice companion to the Kicking Horse Pass program. Ride in the cab of a CP Rail SD40F diesel locomotive. The journey covers the 20 miles from Field to Lake Louise. As satisfying as the 1st program is, the alternate view of the line is a welcome viewpoint. A great cab ride! The camera mainly faces forward. Additional views include: watching the engineer at work, and some scenic highlights from the side window. The ride through the spiral tunnels is fun, as is the whole show. At 76 minutes, this contains a fine program.

CN’s Yellowhead Pass.

This feature also has a 45 minute runtime. CN runs from Jasper through Yellowhead Pass, and more. Mt. Robson is the highest peak in Canada at 12,000 + feet. Action packed program with a wide variety of trains. Via rail has passenger trains. The Canadian and The Skeena make appearances. Caboose hungry railfans will get CN cabins on Prince George bound freight trains.Panaramic views from across some lakes, with some trains reflected in the water. The blend of trains, scenic beauty and wildlife, gives a combination of pure Canadian bliss.

Canada’s Canyon Route.

This is the fourth volume. Fraser River Canyon and Thompson River Canyon. Both Canadian Pacific and Canadian National operate on their separate right of ways. A river in the center divides the railroads to each riverbank. As is the case, with Yellowhead Pass and Kicking Horse Pass, each region has it’s own natural beauty. So it goes with the Canada Canyon routes. Different from the others, awe-inspiring like the others. Runs for 60 minutes. This one has the advantage of both roads in one program. Action packed!

Western Canada Series: Complete Set

All of the shows are highly rated on their own merits. As a complete set, they get rated higher. The interrelated programs go together extremely well. The four volumes are different sections of a complete story. The consistency offered by the high quality of Greg Scholl does give the viewer a great experience of the lines viewed in Canada. Value priced as the complete set makes this an attractive purchase. This would make a great gift for any railfan. Especially, for the hard to buy for, one that seemingly has everything.

Rating: 5 Stars

Canada’s Canyon Route

Canada’s Canyon Route

Greg Scholl Video Productions

Format: DVD

Length: One hour

Time Period: 1992

Locations: Fraser River Canyon, Boston Bar, Thompson River Canyon, Lytton, Cisco, Pitquah, Spences Bridge

Source: Greg Scholl

Western Canada Series

MSRP: 29.95

This is the fourth volume to review of this fine series. The areas are, Fraser River Canyon and Thompson River Canyon. Both Canadian Pacific and Canadian National operate on their separate right of ways. A river in the center divides the railroads to each riverbank. As is the case with Yellowhead Pass and Kicking Horse Pass, each region has it’s own natural beauty. So it goes with the Canada Canyon routes. Different from the others, awe inspiring like the others.

The show plays like a double feature film. Two of Canada’s biggest railway stars, with the canyon as the stage. If you have never seen film of this location, you are missing out, in a huge way. Action is wall to wall trains. A big parade of trains from a variety of viewpoints.

                                        An occasional map will illustrate the way.

Narration has more presence in this show. Informative and historical discussions.

The scenery is just spectacular! The natural cliffs and rockface are a stunning backdrop. The clear views afforded by shooting across the river, allow for panoramic views. Pine trees remain a part of the scene. The trees are not in a dense forest. Here they are spread out and the mood of this place is much more open then the dense forest of the other locations. Another location in Thompson Canyon, has very sparse vegetation, for more variation.

Trains themselves are various freight traffic. The Canadian unit grain trains have the colorful, large covered hoppers. Some of them are the cylindrical types. They are in a rainbow of colors. Unit coal also travels the lines. CN has unit sulfur moves for export. COFC and TOFC are seen on the lines.There are also, the general merchandise freights.

The normal locomotives are SD40-2 types. Various options  include, wide safety cabs, and full length cowls. CP Rail has mid train SD40 helpers with locotrol equipment for control. Seems that at least one unit in each set of locotrol helpers has blanked out windows. Probably these house the specialized gear required. Keep a sharp eye out for at least one full height pacman logo on a locotrol helper. Canadian National also has some safety cab GP40 diesels on a few trains.

The high vantage points can have the passing freights look like small ‘n gauge’ models against the imposing mountains. A little closer and they can look like HO scale models. By the way, you won’t need forced perspective (as in model railroading) to make the near train look bigger than the background move. The distance of the river takes care of that. You can see two trains, on two riverbanks, in a single scene.

At Cisco the CP crosses over to the other riverbank via a bridge. CN does likewise.

Canadian Pacific built the first railway through the area. They chose the easiest route.

There is other power on this line. BC Rail runs a train here. The British Columbia freight even totes a caboose! Some leased locos include ex: Norfolk & Western SD40’s with high hoods, still in black! Algoma Central diesels can be mu’ed in lash-ups. Aren’t the Algoma Central SD’s reminiscent of Erie Lackawanna?

We have all heard of and seen snowsheds. Common to routes with heavy snowstorms in mountains. Ever hear of a rockshed? The canyon is a very rocky place. The rock-slides are a very serious hazard. You’ll see a number of these rocksheds, complete with plenty of rocks on the slides. Model that for a contest. Wow!

Tunnels are also a feature of the canyon’s rugged terrain. See some big horn sheep clinging to the mountainside, while a CN freight passes below them.

The words to describe the raw, wild attractiveness of the area, are only words. This is something that you will have to see to believe.

All four volumes can be purchased individually. The complete set of four, is available at a value price. For those with a strong interest in Canadian railroading, the set is highly recommended. Either way, they will stand up to repeated viewings.

The series is closely related. Each volume builds upon, and compliments the others. Sometimes one can cherry-pick from a set. In the case of Western Canada Series, all of the volumes are excellent. If you just want to try one, this show is at the very top of the list.

Canada’s Canyon Route is an outstanding program. This is a ‘must see’ for any railfan.

Rating: 5 Stars

CP’s Kicking Horse Pass

CP’s Kicking Horse Pass

Greg Scholl Video Productions

Format: DVD

Length: 46 Minutes + previews

Time Period: 1992

Locations: Kicking Horse Pass, Kicking Horse Canyon, Golden, Field, Lake Louise…

Source: Greg Scholl

MSRP: 29.95

Western Canada Series

A fine volume in the Western Canada Series. This is one of four Western Canadian Titles.

Canadian Pacific Railway on and near Kicking Horse Pass. This Rocky Mountain scenery is wonderful! Yes, the spiral tunnels are included, and there is so much more to be relished.

We will need a few maps to orientate the area. They are present and referenced enough to keep our location and sense of direction on target.

The videography is of a high standard. Live audio is heard in stereo sound. A multitude of viewpoints, gives excellent coverage of the extremely scenic setting.

Narration is smoothly delivered, as usual by John Edwards Hingsbergen. He discusses historical background, and the current happenings on the scenes. Aural space is left to sit back and hear the trains. Chanting diesel motors upgrade and whining dynamic brakes downhill are a winning combination. An occasional airhorn reverberates in the canyon.

Locomotives are predominately Electromotive SD40-2 units. They are usually in the simplified pac man scheme. A few in a newer paint job without the familiar logo. Also some older locos with the full height black and white stripes on the rear.  Some additional diesels such as: Soo Line, Algoma Central, and more leased SD40 units. Action packed show!

The route travels Kicking Horse Canyon from Golden to Field.  Further on, Kicking Horse Pass from Field to Lake Louise. This is a memorable trip, in a gorgeous mountain area!

Golden, British Columbia is the first town along this route. The Mountain subdivision is from Golden to Field. This is part of the Canadian Pacific transcontinental mainline. Golden is west of Calgary. Heading from Golden, the camera travels eastward, towards Field, BC.

Holt’s Tunnel is the first of the many awesome scenes. Shot from higher elevation, the trains look like model trains, as they are dwarfed by the huge mountains. The right if way, runs along the Kicking Horse River. Nice panoramic views. The tall pine forest is all over the area.  Snow capped mountain peaks that will take your breath away. Spectacular scenery.

At Field, we find a modest yard and learn that this is a crew change point. This is the start of the run up to the mountain pass. Field is at 4040 feet and is a wondrous piece of railroad scene itself. An upward climb shows trains at a snowshed and another tunnel. Snow cover is included, as well as a cool tunnel view.

Our railfanning continues at the lower spiral of Kicking Horse Pass.This is deep within the heavy pine forest. The train is there, just don’t expect Tehachapi Loop type viewing.

The spiral tunnels are a very unique feature. CP Rail mid train helpers, with radio control are found here. The trains can be seen, looping over themselves.

Yoho is a transitional scene as the train travels ever upwards, towards the upper spiral. This tunnel is within Cathedral Mountain. The mountain is unbelievable. You will find the origin of the name, Kicking Horse, within the program.

                                   Action at the Upper Spiral on Kicking Horse Pass.

Arrival of a train at Lake Louise, Alberta signifies the ending of this program. Some views of the local wildlife briefly make appearances.

Our journey ends at a point past Lake Louise station. A scenic s-curve track along the river, Morant’s Curve, Alberta.

This splendid show passes by all too quickly. At 45 minutes it’s a bit short. However, it is all quality time. There is a cornucopia of fantastic scenic beauty. Multiple viewings will be a bonus. You’ll need the extra plays to take all of this in.

                         Interesting to see the variations on a Canadian crossing gate.

An excellent companion with CN’s Yellowhead Pass. The programs fit together, like a pair of gloves. They are similar to satisfy the viewing of Canadian trains in the Canadian Rockies. Yet, they are different enough to have both shows in your collection.

Spectacular scenery makes this a must see program, for anyone interested in trains. The scenic wonders will be enjoyable for non trainhead people too. Fine for the woman, the kids, try it at a public trainshow. A truly wonderful journey, through one of North America’s most beautiful places.

Rating: 5 Stars