Pittsburgh Line Blues

PLCON-DVD

Producer: Pentrex

Timeframe: 1990s

Locations: Conway Yard, Conpit Jct, Altoona, Horseshoe Curve, Allegheny Tunnel…

Length: 90 minutes

A Farewell to Conrail. This subtitle describes a final tour of The Pittsburgh Line. Conway to Altoona. Late 1990’s. While still, under the Conrail flag.

David Drui with his usual pro class narrative. Pentrex high quality production.

A detailed Chapter Menu, will result in easy navigation.

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Conrail was in great shape here. Shiny paint. A solid, clean physical plant. No longer, the gritty struggling entity that occupied this same area, years ago.

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Although a highly scenic rail line. The Pentrex creative energy seemed lower. Yes, they get those hard to reach shots. No tower visits or that going the extra mile. No cab rides, for another example.

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Excellent work as far as, filming the trains.

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Reference maps are helpful. Everything is identified.

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Conway Yard is the beginning.

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Standardized traffic and a modern locomotive fleet. Conrail has become a successful railroad! At the same time, less variety and interest, trackside.

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Conpit Jct. has a striking background. Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian, is one of several Amtrak moves seen in this show.

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Conrail Business Train comes into view.

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An expected highlight. Horseshoe Curve, is disappointing. Overgrown foliage, masks the former panoramic views.

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Alto Tower has this unusual viewpoint by Pentrex. It is a light engine move.

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This Oak Island to Pittsburgh, freight interjects some run through power.

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Our narrator perks up! Almost a solid lash-up of GP38 engines, front and back. Hard times for the railfan…

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The videographers still come up with those difficult shots. This, a long telephoto.

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Allegheny Tunnel has been modernized.

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Updated power, that has the railroad looking forward to the future.

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A restored caboose above the Allegheny Tunnel, is the only one shown.

Pittsburgh Line Blues

Another well done Pentrex show. This one doesn’t scale the heights of their top releases. Part of it is, the less interesting time period. Part is the feel, of a paint by the numbers production.

Perhaps they were a little less enthusiastic by this time, as well. It is still a very good show. Not outstanding.

Rating: 4 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

 

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

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

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