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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The Pennsylvania Collection combo

PENNSY-DVD

Producer: Pentrex

Timeframe: 1850- 1960s

Locations: system

Length: 2 hours 9 minutes

Sources: Bill Warrick (The Standard Railroad…) The Pennsylvania RR (Collection)

These two shows were originally Interurban Press productions. Combined for a DVD release by Pentrex. This is on a single factory pressed disc.

This review will look at each program individually. A combined rating upon the conclusion.

A Chapter Menu with the two shows and previews. Sub divided into a detailed Chapter Menu per show.

The Standard Railroad of the World

Locations: Altoona Shops, Penn Station, Enola Yard, Bay Jct., Broad St. Station, Strasbourg RR,

Length: 59 minutes

The Company line states that a Bill Warrick spent years putting this show together. He covers; Steam, Diesel and Traction. Major locations of interest. A major snowstorm in 1958. Comprehensive coverage in under an hour.

Films are in mostly black and white. There is a large amount of color, as well.

Narrated and dubbed soundtrack with train audio. Matter of fact, classroom delivery. PBS style going back to 1830 historical.

vlcsnap-2019-03-31-11h27m37s186Lincoln’s funeral train. A still photographs. Warrick used multiple forms of media to do this show. 

vlcsnap-2019-03-31-11h30m23s063Horseshoe Curve is an obvious must have.

vlcsnap-2019-03-31-11h32m33s422Altoona shops constructed locomotives and tested them. They did much more.

The Johnstown flood is recounted.

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Penn station received a detailed visit.

vlcsnap-2019-03-31-11h37m14s683Long Island electric locomotive. A Pennsylvania owned subsidiary.

DT&I along with Henry Ford, are one of the interesting subjects discussed.

vlcsnap-2019-03-31-11h41m37s995Rockville Bridge. Looks fantastic in any era. 

Broad Street Station gets some attention.

Enola Yard is enormous. After viewing the Collection, certain sources will be obvious.

The Sandusky coal mining film. A silent reel with music, and old time words. Charming!

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Pennsylvania Marine operation at new York harbor.

Chicago Union Station is briefly visited.

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Notice the sidearms carried by the mail clerks.

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Steam classes are compared. K4.

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Mountain helpers.

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M1

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GG1 class are shown extensively.

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Electric trolley system was paralyzed in a 1958 snowstorm. This was in Washington DC.

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Not much in the way of a caboose to see. Here is one from a mini film.

The Pennsylvania Railroad Collection

Pennsylvania RR promotional films. They released their own programs. These often tooted how modern and safe the railroad was to travel or ship freight. All are black and white films.

Progress on the Rails.

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Railroad modernization is the 1st film. Demonstrates safety equipment. Automatic brake stop. There are more.

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Dragging equipment. Roadbed maintenance. Ballast cleaner train. Rail detector car.

Tunnel elimination. Rock cut at Stubenville, Ohio.

Ticket counter with new automation.

New locomotive  car and construction.

__________________________________

Wheels of Steel

GG1 show that is about 13 minutes long

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Hostler with maintenance in the morning.

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Track maintenance gangs and equipment.

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The train travels from Penn Station to Washington, DC. Cab Ride action.

______________________________________

Opening A New Frontier

This one is from 1955. Runs about 13 minutes.

This one begins in 1850. Stagecoach days. General Railroad background.

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Automobile and trucks. Roads are choked! Railroads can take trucks off the roads.

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Piggyback transport.  Truc Trains.

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A trailer move is followed from a Chicago origin. It gets a 2nd morning delivery in New York City. Pennsylvania Railroad piggyback service.

vlcsnap-2019-03-31-13h21m02s020This was early TOFC. A little different in execution. They demonstrate. Great little film for the time. Best of the lot.

_________________________________________

Clear Track Ahead!

1956 production.About 28 minutes.

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Again, goes back to a horse drawn wagon. How slow transport was to get someplace

This one plays like an early Lassie. A short drama at the start. No dog.

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Film is shaky. Expected better quality. This appears to have been used as the main film for others of this period.

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Transition to modern railroad innovations. Some scenes are recycled in another films. It does seem the complete version. The quality here is less. Enola Yard again.

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A T1 engine will pull a passenger train. You will ride this train. Jim is the friendly Engineer.

Segues into construction of locomotives and railroad cars. Altoona Shops again.

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Tower visits include fascinating Electrified Territory. Just a bit different for Electric.

___________________________________________

The Standard Railroad of the World.

A well thought out documentary. Delivered in a PBS style presentation. Many forms of multimedia are employed to present a historical show on Pennsylvania Railroad. The better of the two programs here.

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The Pennsylvania Railroad Collection

A compilation of vintage Pennsylvania films. These are better than average for the decade. Many others are overly dramatic and corny to watch now.

The major concern is the lower quality of the longest running main film. Clear Track Ahead! One would think that Pentrex would have sourced a nice copy. Bummer!

An interesting set overall. Good historical overview. A deduction, for the one shaky film inclusion. Dissappointing, for a high caliber Company, like Pentrex.

Rating: 3 1/2 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 Last Steamers of the Colorado & Southern

index

Producer: WB Video

Time Period: 1958- 1963

Locations: CO.

Length: 46 mins+previews

Source: Dave Gross

A young Dave Gross began filming steam in 1958. The Colorado and Southern was his subject. Burlington Route power had been recalled to service. Full color action follows!

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This is an older release from WB Video. There are no maps. No chapter menus on the DVD. A map would have been useful.

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The show is professionally narrated. Script, editing and production work, are all at a high level.

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Audio has train sounds. They sound fine for this program. Everything proceeds smoothly.

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A sugar beet rush had combined with a power shortage. Steam locomotives were pulled from storage to meet demand.

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Local freight service, is what viewers mostly get on the C&S.

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Clear film throughout. Easy to watch.

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The young David Gross has fine camera skills.

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The Denver roundhouse is visited. 608 is a 2-8-0.

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Burlington Route had a variety of locomotives operating on subsidiary C&S.

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Cold weather was no deterrent to Gross.

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Switchers are busy at work.

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The 16mm film captures a high level of detail. 809 is a 2-8-2 Mikado.

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Later in the timeline. Dave Gross was filming a chartered fantrip in 1963.

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Gross was requested to film Snow Service. Turn of the Century equipment, in  1960. Leadville, Colorado.

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A rotary makes a rare apprerance.

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The Last Steamers of the Colorado and Southern.

This is a high quality film collection. A fantastic look at some Burlington Route steam. Highly recommended for all steam fans!

Burlington Route used to say…

Everywhere West.

… You better believe it!

Rating: 5 Stars

Tower 55

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Producer: Pentrex

Timeframe: 1995

Location: Ft. Worth

Length: 47 min.

A Texas hot spot. Pentrex shot before demolition. Usual suspects. Santa Fe, Burlington Northern, Union Pacific, Southern Pacific and Amtrak. A little bit of other power.

Inside access gives viewers the opportunity to watch the towerman at work.

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Standard Pentrex excellence. All departments have done their jobs. No problems.

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All types of trains move slowly through this area. Yard limit speeds.

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Out the window. Santa Fe Super Fleet.

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A basic track map has the plan outlined. This gets referred to as the show progresses. Before you realize it. The West wye for example, will be fairly familiar.

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Not much to get excited upon. Even the interlocking gear has been modernized. Now, a sensible pushbutton board. Strangely similar, to a model railroad, club sized board!

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Union Pacific is fairly dominant. Two yards are close-by. Peach Street Yard at a lower elevation, requires extra power to get out.

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Tower 55 really has the views! As expected. Almost every reasonable viewpoint is utilized. Not to mention, a 24 hour operational cycle.

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I cannot say if this is an accurate cycle. Rather doubt this to be true. Doesn’t matter all that much. They haven’t advertised it as such.

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An imposing structure in the distance. A Texas and Pacific station. Probably their former headquaters.

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Amtrak seems to find it’s way into most shows with a city. Here is the Texas Eagle.

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Much better looking are Santa Fe Super Fleets! Genius marketing.

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Union Pacific with this odd *B prefix engine.

*ATVR Bonus. B4313 is an SD38. The B prefix designates assignment to yard service.

Keep a sharp eye out. You will see it later.

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Not a whole lot in the run throughs. A clean Conrail SD40 does an appearance.

 

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Electromotive was adding horsepower to BN coal trains with SD demonstrators.

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Southern Pacific, also had a yard located here. Often, turning road units on the wyes.

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A Burlington Northern move with a mixed power set adds some interest. EMD demo units and returned to lessor locomotives, were being utilized on various BN moves.

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Union Pacific. Union Pacific. Union Pacific…

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Santa Fe in the blue and yellow warbonnet scheme. Never goes out of style. Always looks good.

Not a caboose to be seen. So, we will close with a lonesome Tower 55.

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Both the tower and the caboose share a similar fate. Removal for the most part. Not needed in the modern rail era.

Tower 55. A solid program that checks all the boxes. A little short on the run time. Not the most interesting era of actual trains. Too bad they didn’t have some vintage film to add. So, limited in scope and the actual run.

All in all. Fine, for a modern tower show.

Rating: 4 Stars