Magnolia Cut-Off of the CSX

CSX0_dvd (1)

Producer: Green Frog

Timeframe: 1992

Locations: Carothers, Stuart, Randolph, Graham tunnels, Magnolia Bridge…

Length: 59 minutes

Source: Steve Neff

This original Baltimore and Ohio line was constructed along the Potomac River. Magnolia Cut-Off is a more efficient route. Completed in 1914. The river line has since been removed. Cut-Off is over 5 miles shorter, than that first route.

vlcsnap-2020-03-09-10h44m14s224Coverage ranges from; Paw Paw to HO Tower at Orleans Cross Road. Shot in 1992.

vlcsnap-2020-03-09-11h28m27s789A DVD-R. Chapter Search. Switchable narration. A map. No additional graphics. Bob Carrera narrates, a well written script. Balance of the audio is enviornmental. High Green Frog standards.

vlcsnap-2020-03-09-10h48m17s252SD 50 8585 exits Carothers Tunnel.

vlcsnap-2020-03-09-10h52m35s004Symbol freight S347. This is a second section. Note the old B&O position signal lights.

vlcsnap-2020-03-09-11h04m06s704Rare General Electric, U-30-C exits Graham tunnel. This is a Military move.

vlcsnap-2020-03-09-11h24m47s528A great scene. Captures the grade and some twisting trackage.

vlcsnap-2020-03-09-11h31m12s593Do yourself a favor. Look at the locomotive lash-ups. Interesting units, are often buried in the rear. A couple of GP30s and a Seaboard System switcher, are in this train.

vlcsnap-2020-03-09-11h10m07s984Three in Chessie paint, lead over Magnolia Bridge. B&O and C&O lettered Chessie System locomotives, are still found in 1992.

vlcsnap-2020-03-09-11h12m35s013At Stuart a gray ghost painted unit. Train is Q375. Heading is Westbound.

vlcsnap-2020-03-09-10h55m39s899The opposite portal at Stuart Tunnel. Train Q376.

vlcsnap-2020-03-09-11h05m36s662Before CSX had the locomotives all wearing yellow painted ends. Train R342.A pair of GP40 units, with a beat up Family Lines GP38.

vlcsnap-2020-03-09-11h40m51s025Amtrak number 30 makes several appearances.

vlcsnap-2020-03-09-11h20m43s432R135. Randolph Tunnel and Potomac River.

vlcsnap-2020-03-09-11h33m49s357Pre-merger paint! B&O with a Family Lines.

vlcsnap-2020-03-09-10h58m12s099The Concrete Wall is an awesome construction fest. CSX locomotives are in a good variety in 1992 here. All 2nd and 3rd generation.

vlcsnap-2020-03-09-11h38m04s608This Chessie engine at a meet, with another CSX freight.

vlcsnap-2020-03-09-11h33m03s694Conrail has some run through power.

vlcsnap-2020-03-09-11h40m11s790Although less on special scenery, the East End is still busy. Nearing the end of the Cut-Off route.

vlcsnap-2020-03-09-13h04m29s818A CSX work train trundles through the small yard at HO Tower. This area begins the conclusion of this program.

vlcsnap-2020-03-09-11h41m51s301Magnolia Cut-Off of the CSX. An excellent visit to this territory! The Videographer gets the highlights. In just under an hour, a highly satisfying look, at one of the most scenic routes in the United States. One of the top programs, in the Green Frog CSX catalog. Do not miss this one!

Rating: 5 Stars


Burlington Northern- In the Former ‘Q’ Coal Fields


Producer: Mary McPherson

Timeframe: 1986- 1991

Locations: Centralia, Goreville Hill,

Length: 1 hour 49 minutes

Source: George Redmond

This Heritage Series release is on Burlington Northern coal trains. Shot in Southern Illinois. Some general freight and intermodal trains, are included.  Various BN diesel power.

vlcsnap-2019-12-02-14h38m56s333George Redmond was out with his video camera. What you see, is what you get. Enviornmental soundtrack. Mary does the narrative. A numbered Chapter Menu. Plenty of on-screen graphics. No maps.

vlcsnap-2019-12-02-13h58m04s269Video quality is variable. Weather and natural light levels. Colors are good. It’s old videotape sourced. The best is here. Do not expect a modern image. Let’s take a look, see what’s going on.

vlcsnap-2019-12-02-14h12m34s809General Electric 12 axle locomotives, are heavily utilized. Older, U30C engines are mixed with C30-7 power. The ubiquitous SD40-2 locos are here, but must be concentrated elsewhere.

vlcsnap-2019-12-02-13h43m22s107 A GP20 makes the scene!

vlcsnap-2019-12-02-15h23m21s943BN, was easily identified on the coal hoppers, in the old days.

vlcsnap-2019-12-02-15h25m01s451Cabooses are frequently seen throughout. The intermodals, were amoung the first to lose them.

vlcsnap-2019-12-02-14h44m45s015There are discrepancies. Compass heading, versus timetable direction. Simple solution, is to see the show and let Mary explain it all. 

vlcsnap-2019-12-02-14h39m22s624Centralia, Shattuck and Cravat Hill. These are the main areas frequented.

vlcsnap-2019-12-02-13h44m18s494Cravat Hill has a grade. These locomotives smoke it up. Also, check the graphic.

vlcsnap-2019-12-02-14h41m24s867Experimental scheme. Big BN, plus a whiteface, on this GP50 unit.


Neilson Jct. is another busy location. GP38 pair, with a mixed freight.

vlcsnap-2019-12-02-14h16m46s784The blue units are Electromotive.

vlcsnap-2019-12-02-15h13m51s105A whiteface C30-7 caught George’s eye.

vlcsnap-2019-12-02-15h17m48s599It gets chased, all the way to the Metropolis Bridge!

vlcsnap-2019-12-02-15h40m28s316Electromotive units on their own.


A GP30 with the whiteface, is rare! The show is well paced. Nicely edited, doesn’t drag.

vlcsnap-2019-12-02-13h42m04s993These two cabooses sport the old and the new. A green BN. An original CB&Q, Burlington Route. You can just make the rectangular, Burlington Route logo.

vlcsnap-2019-12-02-14h37m41s371Burlington Northern- In the Former ‘Q’ Coal Fields.

Certainly does the job. Coal trains and more coal trains. A minimum of variety. There is the weather! The advertised clearly states, Coal. So, if a Railfan enjoys; Burlington Northern and coal. That is a clear match.

Everyone else, realize these are specific tapes. Check the Diverging Clear line for your own mates. Solid show for BN fans.

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars


CSX 13 The Big Sandy (Sub)


Producer: Green Frog

Locations: Shelby, Martin, Dante, Coal Run Jct., Garrett, more

Timeframe: 1999

Length: 84 minutes

Source: Rich Scheid

A story of Eastern Kentucky coal. CSX from Kentucky into Virginia. Diligent video follows the routes. Cab Ride action. Tunnels, mines and pushers. Great scenery, as well. Third generation General Electric power, was found to be a perfect match for coal service.

vlcsnap-2019-11-30-16h00m43s999Here we have Volume 13. This Green Frog series on CSX, is comprehensive. High production standards. Chapter Search. No Chapter Menu.

vlcsnap-2019-11-30-15h46m43s247Narrated by Peter Youngblood. Natural audio soundtrack. Several on-screen graphics. Could have used more. No maps are supplied. Videographer is excellent. CSX 412, is a GE AC44CW locomotive.

vlcsnap-2019-11-30-14h50m12s649Former C&O tracks at Shelby yard, in Shelby , KY. Hop into the locomotive cab!

vlcsnap-2019-11-30-14h52m28s288A cab ride on , the Pushers. Quickly we enter ex: Clinchfield rails. Now, we are into Virginia. Riding on a CW40-8. The route is loaded, with tunnels.

vlcsnap-2019-11-30-14h56m10s096Dante is where the Pusher cuts off. This   was original Clinchfield northern terminus. (Looked it up!) Pusher set returns to Shelby. Each tunnel is discussed. Nice tour of the Clinchfield.

vlcsnap-2019-11-30-14h58m44s364Sandy Ridge Tunnel, is the longest one.

vlcsnap-2019-11-30-15h07m15s071State Line tunnel. Viewed from high on the opposite side of the canyon.

vlcsnap-2019-11-30-15h13m28s384CSX 420 exits at Pool Point Tunnel.vlcsnap-2019-11-30-15h10m02s456Pool Point Tunnel. This near Elkhorn City. Stone entrance, instead of concrete. Trestle over a river.

vlcsnap-2019-11-30-15h56m58s715CSX locomotive, with a good side view.

vlcsnap-2019-11-30-15h51m59s828Coal Run Jct. is a busy hotspot.

vlcsnap-2019-11-30-15h56m32s165Check the twisting trackage. That is old Chesapeake and Ohio.

vlcsnap-2019-11-30-15h57m57s986Down here, the local moves have their own names. Martin Creek Shifter. Pikeville Shifter, and such. They serve the mine runs.

vlcsnap-2019-11-30-16h17m46s188Garrett, look how the town is squeezed on top of the railroad. The narrow valleys often have limited space, for railroad and buildings.

vlcsnap-2019-11-30-16h16m00s112A big blue, renumbered Conrail engine breaks up the gray CSX army.

vlcsnap-2019-11-30-16h24m13s272Mine facilities are trackside. Often, towering over the trains.

vlcsnap-2019-11-30-16h24m21s193Brief and effective close-ups, of procedure to load a coal train. See one, see them all.

vlcsnap-2019-11-30-16h13m17s373 A pair of CSX cabooses are filmed too tight, for a better view. You get, what you get. Cross Tracks Safely.

CSX 13 The Big Sandy (Sub)

Green Frog gives an up close look at the lines. The Cab Ride on Clinchfield rails, really adds to the show. Very well done overall.

Rating: 5 Stars



The Illinois Central:1990-1991


Producer: Mary R. McPherson

Timeframe: 1990-1991

Locations: Centralia, DuQuoin, Rust Jct., Carbondale, more

Length: 1 hour 55 minutes

Sources: George Redmond and Kurt I. Jensen

The Heritage Series. Illinois Central:1990-1991. End of the Paducah Geep Era.

Last of 4 volumes about the Illinois Central, in the Heritage Series. This by Diverging Clear Productions. Mary McPherson is the Producer. Long program. Highlights only.

vlcsnap-2019-11-14-17h15m45s008Obviously, the last stand for those old warhorse GP9 rebuilds, of various incarnations. From Orange and White Illinois Central,  later Illinois Central Gulf. The final survivors,  were mostly black repaints.

vlcsnap-2019-11-14-20h12m51s263A single DVD-R, in a Slimline case. No Chapter Menu. No maps. Plenty of on-screen graphics. Full narration by Mary McPherson. Very informative. Train symbols, locations and railroad history/ operations. 


The Heritage Series. These are niche videos. Mainly filmed by George Redmond. Good with his camera. Age isn’t favorable to vintage videotapes. The subject matter is what makes these desirable.

Amateur shot videos. Produced and released by this Independent label. Mary has come a long way on this release. Restoration work. It looks better. Sharp editing, plays smoother. Balanced audio. Improvements in all areas!

vlcsnap-2019-11-14-16h28m48s781Some rare territory is included in this show. The Bluford division, aka the Edgewood Cut-Off. Oddly enough, this is not where those old geeps are to be found.

vlcsnap-2019-11-14-17h04m37s442This show is dominated by second generation power. GP38 and GP40 engines. SD40 units. Also, those odd SD20 locomotives. 

vlcsnap-2019-11-14-17h23m33s443Of course there are: GP8, GP10 and GP11 units. Although, not in quantity, until later. So be patient. A rare GP35 in black, that was a Gulf, Mobile & Ohio unit appears.


The first half is in the Bluford division. Shot in 1990. Plenty of inclement, wintery weather. The bridge viewpoint, is overused for too many head-on views of oncoming trains. Perhaps, a little editing could have been useful here.


Color balance is very good overall. Nothing weird. Brightness issues, in the first half. Videography is very good. Historical value, not modern viewing standards.

Trains look good on a large, HDTV. Backgrounds can look artificial, occasionally. Nothing to worry about. No deal breakers. A clean train picture, seems have been the goal.

vlcsnap-2019-11-14-16h28m30s240Illinois Central was always known for hauling coal. Still, a main commodity.

vlcsnap-2019-11-14-17h12m08s651The second half moves the show to: Centralia, Carbondale and DuQuion. Additional Southern Illinois towns. Better weather conditions. Much improved picture. Superior composition. Shot in 1991. Almost like watching two different shows. Grain train shown above. The other huge commodity on Illinois Central.

vlcsnap-2019-11-14-16h38m58s102The entire program is well paced. It moves along quickly. Smooth edits. Audio is natural sound. Good balance of levels.

vlcsnap-2019-11-14-17h24m30s709There are multiple pacing sequences. Different locomotives are featured. All are good.

vlcsnap-2019-11-14-20h16m26s595Not a bunch of offline power. Norfolk Southern has it’s normal traffic, via Centralia.

vlcsnap-2019-11-14-19h32m42s079There are quite a few Amtrak trains. Mary is an expert on Amtrak. She is an Amtrak Conductor! Has worked The City of New Orleans for years. I bet a trip on her train is major fun! Great sense of humor!!

vlcsnap-2019-11-14-17h07m28s169Those old geeps are already getting scarce! Hard to find in the lead, on long lash-ups.

vlcsnap-2019-11-14-17h21m34s916Easier to find, on switching, or small local trains.

vlcsnap-2019-11-14-19h45m17s964Black paint on newly acquired, ex: Burlington Northern SD-40-2 engines. This was the end, for the venerable Paducah Geep rebuilds.

vlcsnap-2019-11-14-19h29m46s282Still see some cabooses in service. Orange was always my favorite. That light gray looked like, no one could agree on a really good color. Like beige carpet.

vlcsnap-2019-11-14-16h29m11s200Heritage Series. Illinois Central:1990-1991. End of the Paducah Geep Era. A good collection of what is now, historical video. Probably, could have gotten the same thrill, in an edit. It does get somewhat repetitive. Still, a must have for Illinois Central fans. Overall, a well done volume in the series.

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars


Montana Rail Link EMDs in the Rockies Volume 2 The West End


Producer: C. Vision

Locations: Helena, Mullan Pass, Evaro Hill, DeSmet, Paradise, Sandpoint

Timeframe: circa 2014

Length: 2 hours

Source: Mike Savona

Likely the sleeper in the large C. Vision catalog. A spectacular last part, sets this apart! Postcards brought to life. This is an accurate description of the scenes, as this show travels towards Sandpoint, Idaho. One amazing scene after another. Getting ahead of the review.


Here is the second of a two volume issue from C. Vision, about the contemporary Montana Rail Link. Long vanished, are EMDs in Burlington Northern paint. Shiny dark blue here.


The roster is looking prosperous. Newer SD70AC locomotives. SD45 and updated SD40 class power. Some older GP9 or similar types in clean MRL paint.


BNSF units are plentiful, as well. Sometimes in their own solid sets. They can appear in mixed lash-ups. Also, single rearend helpers. Odd looking as that is.


The line coverage is complete. Where the MRL has many points seen with a train or two. Much more of the route mileage, can be viewed. Several maps are included.

The single DVD-R is enclosed in a sturdy plastic case. A detailed Chapter Menu. Choice of the narrative is on/ off.


The Videography is top shelf! Production is first class throughout. The skill level of the Videographer meets and exceeds anyone, on the current scene. Don Grant does the narration.


As a reviewer. It is also my role, to discuss any concerns. In this case, wildfire smoke is visible, in some scenes. Similar to inclement weather. The scenes are completely watchable. Nothing serious.


Audio is natural, Enviornmental Sound. Professional production levels. Show is narrated. Focused on locations, movements and trackage. Could have used additional locomotive information, but not a major miss. The emphasis on train sounds seems to be the priority.


Obviously, at a two hour program length. Only room to skim the surface. Highlights.


The appearance of the newer SD70AC, Electromotive diesels scream, Brute Force! Perfect for conquering mountain grades.


Even with those bad boys on the roster. Nothing is wrong with dependable second generation EMD turbo charged muscle. SD40XR.


Luckily, this was filmed over a few years. A now discontinued local was still working. The Paradise local, as seen here. Also, another the Darby local.


After viewing all the high horsepower diesels. Venerable first generation, Electromotive of LaGrange built locomotives, still get the job done. Some about 50 years later!


Mullan Pass and the area, is often photographed. As is the Continental Divide.


A surprising find. The important Gas Trains. Day and Night scheduled runs. Some pulling along with mixed freight. All trains have their symbols.


Coal has always been a big commodity. A railroad stronghold.


Far on the West End. The beautiful water provides many reflections.


Sandpoint, Idaho is the end of Montana Rail Link territory.


A Montana Rail Link caboose is faded, but completely serviceable.

C. Vision has this; Montana Rail Link EMDs in the West End Volume 2. A great release. The fantastic ending of the second half makes this a must see, for any Railfan who enjoys the picturesque side of Railroading.

Rating: 5 Stars