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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Along the Hudson Division combo

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Producer: Pentrex

Timeframe: 1992

Locations: Penn Station to Albany

Length: One hour 30 minutes

A two for one bonus DVD. Hudson Division, FL-9 type locomotives were the main power. Amtrak’s Turbo Trains is the bonus.

This review shall independently look at the two shows. A combined rating at the end. The release is on a single DVD.

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Standard Pentrex professional quality. They are extremely consistent in production. The trnsfers alone, are worth upgrading from VHS tape. Limited DVD Menu with: only a show choice or previews. Does play all.

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Full narration. Usual fine soundtrack. On-screen graphics. Razor sharp editing.

Along the Hudson Division

Here are the FL-9 engines. A one hour show. Basic premise, is a Cab Ride in an Amtrak FL-9. Penn Station to Albany- Rennselear. The power is swapped out there.

The camera is perched on the Fireman’s side. Perfect view out the large windshield. Augmented by assorted choice external scenes.

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Scenery is pretty along the Hudson River. This constitutes the majority of the trip. Plentiful, are stations, landmarks and points of interest.

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Basic maps outline the territories.

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Penn Station is dark and cavernous. We are onboard Amtrak’s Niagara Rainbow. As far as Albany. The locomotive runs on electric power here.

Travel through a myriad of underground and daylight passages. The train makes it’s way outbound.

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The George Washington Bridge is seen, as we travel Northward. Fast moving show.

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The view of an Electromotive FL9 series windshield. Only one scene like this.

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One of several tunnels. Many viewpoints.

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Poughkeepsie with the old New Haven bridge.

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 A look around the yard and shops at Croton- Harmon. This was where, New York  Central once changed diesels, for electric engines. To traverse third rail.

Today, we see equipment in running and junked condition. Man, that Metro North paint scheme is ugly!! 

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Need blue Conrail now. Check this GE B 30-7 pair, with notched plows. Specials, for 3rd rail Snow Service.

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Hudson Station, being restored to former glory.

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A pairing with #420, a former Chicago & Northwestern F7 unit. Metro North acquired some of these, from Jersey Transit.

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At our final stop. A GP40TC will takeover. The work has been completed by the FL-9. Not requiring a dual service locomotive, any further. The FL-9 will rotate back to New York City.

The Niagara Rainbow will continue to Canada, behind the GP40TC.

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An excellent program. An extemely busy corridor along the Hudson River. Metro North trains of various types. Successful FL9 operations by Amtrak. A bit of Conrail. The show is a smooth one. Appears great on the DVD.

 

Amtrak’s Turbo Trains Cab Ride

The futuristic Amtrak Turbo Trains. Originally built in 1976. These 14 sets are concentrated along the Hudson. Ride one from Albany- Rennselear station to Penn Station. Accomplish this tour in 30 minutes.

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A 2 1/2 trip in 30 minutes? No, the Turbo Train isn’t equipped, with Star Trek warp drive. Succinct editing, will get us there, in express-like fashion.

 

 

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At Poughkeepsie, it’s time to go Hollywood. Put on the shades, New York City soon!

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Turbo Trains can be ran at over 100 mph!

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Similar to the Along the Hudson Division. Travels in the reverse direction. Inbound.

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Astor Tunnel on this trip.

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Tarrytown and a General Motors plant.

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The Empire Connection. Riding through a bridge is one of the best parts.

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Ties up at Penn Station.

Amtrak’s Turbo Trains Cab Ride

An equally enjoyable ride on the once legendary New York Central tracks. Wouldn’t rate it as a 30 minute single.  Call it an excellent show. Roll it into the combined rating.

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Along the Hudson Division combo

The combined shows are a perfect match! They go together like peanut butter and jelly. Right down to it being a round-trip. Much akin to taking a short train ride, in the locomotive. Good for family viewing and hardcore Railfans.

Rating: 5 Stars

Pittsburgh Mainlines

PBMAIN-DVD

Producer: Pentrex

Timeframe: 1999

Locations: Pittsburgh area

Length: 2 hours 16 minutes

Tour the Steel City with: Conrail, CSX, Union Railroad and Amtrak. This is prior to Norfolk Southern. There is a surprising amount of rail action, in Pittsburgh. Memorable settings for the trains, as well.

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A detailed Chapter Menu displays many locations. Conway Yard, Rochester, P&LE Main and Turtle Creek Valley being several.

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Comprehensive coverage of the Pittsburgh metro area. Historical aspects pay tribute to the rich industrial foundation of this city.

Dave Drui with his smooth, pro narration. Balanced, ambient audio soundtrack.

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Conrail does run a herd of trains through this fascinating trackage.

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CSX is on former B&O lines. Plenty of CSX with road and local moves. Bonus, the locals still require a caboose!

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Union Railroad may be unfamiliar. It is the business. Coke, and steel related plant trains are abundant within it’s domain.

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Some complicated trackage is explained with many Pentrex custom maps. Frequently referenced and needed by viewers.

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Scenic vistas abound, as Pennsylvania landscapes are always nearby.

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Port Perry is a stunning location!

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There are still some operational Steel plants. Pentrex visits.

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On-screen graphics with additional information.

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A Model Railroaders paradise, as well. Some scenes ; have more tracks and trains, than a Christmas Lionel dream layout!

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Amtrak has several trains.

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Impressive bridges are a Cornerstone. All of those rivers and valleys must be crossed.

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Tunnels are plentiful. All, a little different.

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Here, coal hoppers are spotted with a tiny switcher. An unusual operation. Singular!

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Here is a glimpse of vintage film. Pentrex certainly sent the extra mile. On more than one occasion, showing historical footage.

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Comparison to the current Pittsburgh.

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CSX- Allegheny Crossing is impessive. Just when you think the old Pennsylvania Railroad bridges rule. Along comes a: B&O or Pittsburgh & Lake Erie construction.

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OK. Who wanted Bessemer & Lake Erie?… Me too! A couple of SD7 engines. Nice pair.

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A former, Chessie System locomotive pokes it’s face out of a tunnel. Even more, than can be reasonably included within the scope of this review. There is plenty to be relished. A packed program.

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One of the last operating Interlocking Towers gets a visit. See the inside…

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Union Railroad has a caboose on every train. Good coverage on this road.

Pittsburgh Mainlines.

One of the top Pentrex shows, with late 1990s railroads. Different mixture of trains, in a variety of settings. Expert videography and production. Historical aspects that are, woven into the program. A great choice for anyone with an interest in trains!

Rating: 5 Stars

 

Whistler’s Western – The Boston & Albany RR

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Producer: A&R

Timeframe: 1934-1989

Locations: B&A

Length:1 hour

Sources: Blackhawk collection

This comprehensive, historical overview is complete. History from the 1830s. Films dating back to the 1930’s, document the constant activity.

The Conrail era brings the B&A current, as of the production year. Conrail footage bookends the story.

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The writers dove deep on this program. Lecturing on the early incarnations, that were later rolled into the larger company.

Frequent map usage illustrates the territories. Multiple maps are posted of various areas. Extremely helpful for those who are unfamiliar, with this region.

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This program is approximately: one half, black and white, film. High quality footage, for the most part. All of this, is shot very well. Also, Hudson class steam galore!

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The diesel era is in quality, color film and video. This includes some cab rides.

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Majority of the film sourced audio, would be dubbed. Video of Conrail should be live. A fine sounding show.

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Ted Daluku performs his usual pro level narrative. The script is very well written. Chronological progress makes it easy, for even non railfan viewers to follow. Steam to diesel. Good for family viewing.

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Steam powered 20th Century Limited trains are shown.

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A 1932 Chevy gives chase to this train!!

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Away he goes…

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Checkout the heat running in that old, snow covered caboose. Baby, it’s cold outside!

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RDC car provides some interurban service.

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New York Central, with rare Alco RS 32 models.

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The Penn Central is a part of the Boston & Albany story. Much more coverage in Vol.2.

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Amtrak SDP40F proved unsatisfactory.

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Very early Conrail merger. No blue paint.

 

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The only misstep in my opinion. The title of the two volumes. I was expecting the likes of Starucca Viaduct. After some research. Whistler’s Arches were flood damaged. Abandoned. That’s it?

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Whistler’s Western – The Boston & Albany.

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A traditional approach has been used to present, The Boston and Albany Railroad. Say what you will about traditional. One truth is. Traditional becomes tradition, because it works!

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A&R has covered all the bases. Done their homework. Organized it all in a clear and concise presentation. Kept it nicely paced. Interesting history and brought current.

That is easier said, than done.

Excellent work!

Rating: 5 Stars

 

 

Whistler’s Western Volume 2- Penn Central

CRVBA2-Classic-Railroad-Videos-DVD-Whistlers-Western-Volume-2-The-Boston-and-Abany-in-PC-Black-600-TheShortLine_212x300

Producer: Steve Bransfield & Phil Johnson

Timeframe: 1970s

Locations: Post Rd. NY to N. Grafton, MA

Length: 54 minutes

Source: Bruce Malone

The Boston & Albany, in Penn Central black. Whistler’s Western? Are you serious? Nonsense! Who cares. Just another route, to the Penn Central. Ignore the goofy title. If you enjoy the black diesels and a green caboose. Hop aboard!

Filmed in full color. Unrestored, but looks fine. Balanced presentation. Nothing weird. Just do not expect modern, crystal clarity.

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Imagery ranges around very good overall. Variable, with the sometimes grainy and murky backgrounds. Can be focus issues.

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Audio is dubbed. Some scenes work better than others. Levels are even.

No Chapter Menu is included.

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Ted Daluku is the reliable narrator. Clear and professional. Fine job!

In the above scene. Action at Chester. Check all that power. Power balance move.

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A good script. This time, a little thin on some details. They mention to assume, the viewer has digested the information from the first volume. (3263 is a GP40)

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A rudimentary map early on. Once, and a minimal effort. Location references are verbal throughout.

Starting point is Western end of the B&A line. It is at Post Road Crossing , New York.

Never heard of that place. Alright then…We are moving Eastbound, most of the time.

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This volume is focused on trainwatching. Nothing wrong with that. Pacing is the key.

An error or two in the script. Nearly all shows contain errors. If memory serves. This scene called for ,”An all GE lineup”. Not critical. In fact, if the viewer should yawn, fart or sip a beverage. They miss the mistake. Carry on!

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The action is tightly constructed. Quickly, moving from one train, onto the following one. Cinematography is excellent, by Bruce Malone!

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The Washington Cut. A deep rock cut, provides a different viewing angle. Looks like a GE U-33C in the lead.

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Penn Central freight trains roll by the camera in an endless supply.

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Big General Electrics share duties with EMD GP40 and GP38 units. PC # 2910 is a GE U33B.

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Amtrak Lake Shores Limited.

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Plenty of former New York Central cabooses, still service the line. Model railroaders will find a good supply of rolling stock.

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Interchange, with a Grand Trunk GP9, on the lead. Central Vermont train. Palmer location.

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An SW1500 also at Palmer. A branchline here. The transfer caboose was handy. Long platforms good for switching cars. They were used on many railroads. These were former New York Central. Some lasted into Conrail.

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Piggyback trains as they were called back in the day. A caboose on every one!

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Extra 8130 slows for orders. (FYI… 8130 is a GP38-2, your welcome)! Bruce Malone was a Penn Central employee.

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Train moves through the makeshift station. This is near the old Westfield Station.

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The Conductor grabs the flimsies. Maybe Bruce knew these guys. He is really close.

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Extra 6523 is shot from above, at Charleton. An Erie Lackawanna GE, is third in this lash-up.

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An easily recognizable caboose. Class N5C. A former Pennsylvania porthole window. These lasted into the Conrail years.

Sharp eyes, will find a little bit of: CR re-lettered cabooses and a boxcar. I could have shown them. Nah! You can hunt them. More fun that way.

Whistler’s Western Volume 2- Penn Central Black

This show does perform, with the constant parade of trains. Penn Central fans will enjoy it the most.

If it grabs you. You know. That’s the ticket.

Rating: 4 Stars