CSX on the Tracks of the C&O

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Producer: A&R

Timeframe: 1995-2000

Locations: Lynchburg to Kenova

Length: 1 hour 40 minutes

Source: Chester Kumada

Self guided tour of the given route. Third generation CSX locomotives. Unit coal trains. Not much in the way of variety. The most interesting aspect is the history. Yet, nothing is learned.

A major flaw. This show is advertised as ‘Narrated’. The terminology of narration. Commonly refers to a voiceover that is present throughout the program.

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Here, a limited bit of talk, at the beginning. After that brief portion. The remaining 90 minutes are NOT narrated!

A single route map. One look is all that is given.

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The edits are rough, in too many spots.  Contributed uncomfortable viewing session. Hard on the eyesight.

A small horizontal distortion bar is present at the bottom of the screen. Always there.

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Audio is whatever the High 8 Videocam recorded. Unedited. Including, the cameraman getting hassled to give some identification info!

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The dark paint is seen at Lynchburg, Virginia.

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Wind noise gets too loud at times. This should have been edited, in the Post production.

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The show plays like a raw video. The show contains some normal video flaws. Nothing to be a big concern. Just like watching a tape.

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Chester uses his camera as handheld. A fairly, steady hand. Although, there are shaky scenes. A little trimming could have smoothed some of this out of the show.

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A wasted opportunity to explore some history of the locations. Sometimes, a bit of signage designated a location. Otherwise, your guess is good as mine.

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Unit coal trains are as thrilling as watching paint dry. They could have discussed, the various moves and the companies involved. At the very least.

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Clifton Forge has a large yard. Now, there is a subject! Speaking of narration. This ex:B&O GP40 is cutout of the lash-up on a coal train. Dropped at the yard. No details.

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Chester gets a great view at this empty move!

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Here is an: almost but no cigar, GP30. A road slug. CSX 2211.

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A couple of Amtrak scenes. One at the platform is The Cardinal. The Public Address via the video microphone.

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Ohio River, is a shortline involving coal hoppers. An NW2 and an old Centercab diesel, are performing the mindless switching. No description= mindless.

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We are at the end of the show. A bit of logic. Must be Kenova, West Virginia. I have seen that Norfolk and Western trestle, in old films.

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The final tally is a weak result. Lack of narration is a huge downfall. As are the other production flaws. This becomes a drag.

A regular narrative could have made a big difference. Therefore, the lower rating.

Rating: 2 1/2 Stars

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Into the ’90’s GT-2

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Producer: Todd Miller

Timeframe: 1993- 94

Locations: Battle Creek to Port Huron

Length: 2 hours

Source: Todd Miller, Dale Devene, Paul Geiger

The official description is a stretch. I was deciding, between this and GT-1. Both at two hours. This GT-2, had a few things going in its favor. I chose this, based on the advertised inclusions.

Steam, 1980s footage and Battle Creek. Does it include those items? Barely!

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You get several scenes of steam. A couple of scenes that is the 1980s. A few minutes total.

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Major GT yard at Battle Creek. I expected this to be a show highlight. Wait for it… A single aerial flyover!

Not a good start. There is more. Getting ahead of the review.

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The show is narrated by Todd Miller. He seemed to be self sufficient. His Videography is pretty good overall.

His post production work has good points. There are other areas needing help.

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The good. Maps are included in the program. Timely referenced. On screen graphics, with locations and milepost.

Weak are the lighting. Some scenes need the brightness lowered. Early on, this is annoying on the 1994 video. It settles down. No Chapter Menu.

vlcsnap-2019-05-26-08h11m23s180Another area is the audio. Edit the volume on some of these crossing gate scenes. Fortunately, locations are included that are away from crossing gates.

Worst issue is the DVD transfer!

Ever wonder what it would be like to see your old worn out VHS tape on a DVD? Step right in.

Constant, roll and flutter is a distraction. A couple of sections, I thought the tape was being eaten! Only to remember, this is on a disc.

The former 2 tape set, is loaded with flaws. Wonder, why they could not have sourced a set of tapes in better condition?

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Now, after all these issues. The actual show, is a decent visit to the Grand Trunk.

The beginning is at the throat of Battle Creek Yard. A train exiting the area. Program travels towards Canada.

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Durand is one of two extended show highlights. This visit overstays a little bit.

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A long lash-up at Durand.

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A connecting line provides some relief. Central Michigan. The sound of these General Electric locomotives, is a sweet symphony!

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Unexpected, is the amount of online grain elevators.

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At Flint, the famous Grand Funk bridge.

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Canadian Pacific rolls through the territory.

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 Not mentioned in the narrative. Several Amtrak trains, are joint USA and Canadian. Hence, the Via locomotives and Amtrak coaches.

vlcsnap-2019-05-26-08h14m15s559Getting far north at Tappan. This freight has it’s destination at Burlington Northern’s Clyde Yard. BN also is seen earlier,with coal.

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CSX appears with intersecting trackage and various moves. Again with their yard and action at Port Huron.

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Port Huron contains another extended segment. A fascinating look at those: yard, ferry and tunnel operations!

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This GP15 looks dwarfed by the auto racks. Too tall for the current tunnel. They need the river ferry. Three Railroads operate ferries here.

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Focused discussion of yard operation. Details given a detailed look. Plenty of Canadian National movement here.

vlcsnap-2019-05-26-08h46m33s365Canadian National power muscles out of the tunnel beneath the Saint Clair River. Note the construction equipment, building the new tunnel.

 

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The single GT caboose on a train. This from the 1980s freight, constituting one half of that feature.

Into the ’90’s GT-2.

The description fails to deliver on the advertised. A reasonable expectation would be more time on the items, I brought up.

The VHS transfer quality is a dog. Seems like, better tapes could have been applied.

I would have chosen Volume One. Had this been described more accurately.

It is still a good show overall. Lower rating for the sloppy source and transfer.

Rating: 3 Stars

Great American Circus and Show Trains

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Producer: Pentrex

Timeframe: 1999

Locations: many

Length: 1 hour 20 minutes

The Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus moves by rail, via two trains. An antique Circus World Museum is hauled on a train to Milwaukee, WI.

James E. Strates transports a huge Carnival on the railroad. America’s last one to this. Operating along the Eastern Seaboard. I had never heard of Strates.

Each train has a unique history. In fact, Circus history is as fascinating as Railroad. They run parallel, when they had common goals. Moving the shows.

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A detailed Chapter Menu is provided. Very handy to navigate through the material.

Full narration by David Drui. Well scripted. Fine soundtrack. Enviornmental audio with all the sounds needed for a great show.

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Circus World Museum. Located in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Has it’s own fine historical base. A premier collection of antique circus wagons. Fred Dahlinger Jr. gives the history.

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The wagons are loaded in the traditional, Circus Style. Using horse teams and vintage D2 Caterpillars. One at a time.

Older fans will know, this was formerly moved by Chicago and Northwestern.

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Wisconsin and Southern E9 units pull the super colorful train to Milwaukee.

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A train chase, is a one of a kind.

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The full on parade features live animals in the wagons.

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America, is a steam powered Calliope. Rare musical sounds, to pair with this rare wagon.

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Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey. Blue train. One of the two, Ringling touring units.

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Over 300 people live on the Circus train.

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Elephants are featured. 

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Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey. Red train. This one is shown in greater detail. As far as the on/ off process.

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Modern equipment. Same process.

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James E. Strates Shows. Orlando FL.

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Perhaps, anti-climatic following the Greatest Show on Earth. Strates has a worthwhile story. Began as a wrestling show, by a group of Greeks. Leave the remainder of this intriguing tale for the show.

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The large Carnival has some huge equipment to transport. Rail provides the best solution. Jimmy Strates has excellent personal experience and details.

 

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 Lengthy train moves the goods from site to site. Although his employees room on the train. They differ from the Circus trains. His employees travel via the highways.

vlcsnap-2019-05-18-15h22m18s632Pentrex has a short musical video short. Showcases the James Strates show. Seen at the end of this show. Anderson, SC.

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Great American Circus and Show Trains

Here is an outstanding program of Circus and a Carnival trains. The progression from early history to current usage, leads any viewer to be able to understand the transportation aspect of moving the show.

The old techniques, as demonstrated by Circus World are time proven. Similarities to modern loading are readily apparent.

The inclusion of, actual events add much interest to any viewer. Vintage museum loading with horse teams. The Milwaukee parade. Animals with Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Brothers Circus. James E. Strates Carnival video. Excellent!

Perfect show for family viewing!

Rating: 5 Stars

Illinois Junctions

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Producer: Greg Scholl

Timeframe: 2003

Locations: Watseka, Gilman, Tolono, Sidney, Tuscola

Length: 2 hours

Sources: Greg Scholl, Lee Jarrett

 

Five hot spots located in Central Illinois. Crossing trackage is the key. Maximum train action. Some names are familiar. Gilman, is a well known location, from Illinois Central days. Others, might be new.

Chapter Menu. Accessible via the five locations.

Narrated by Greg Higgensberger. Script is on the basic end. Lightly narrated. Favors train sounds. Enough detail to maintain interest and basic information.

Watseka

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Alco used as switcher.

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Canadian National travels through the town.

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CSX move with a former Conrail on the lead.

Gilman

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All locations include a map. Gilman.

vlcsnap-2019-05-05-08h13m56s225Known for Illinois Central. That paint can still be seen here!

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Canadian National has taken over.

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Rail America has interchange business.

Tolono

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Not much here. Except a bunch of trains! Norfolk Southern dominates.

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Union Pacific on the crossing.

Sidney. Singular, with this old Wabash bridge.

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A former Wabash line. Norfolk Southern runs many trains here.

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Several Union Pacific moves underneath.

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The second camera is minimal throughout. Only shows for the last train at Sidney. Breaks the monotony.

Tuscola

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Another busy place. CSX has a former B&O route.

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Amtrak has a crew change point.

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Union Pacific also appears on the other tracks.

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A busy show, at the featured hot spots. Smooth running production. Feels strange, with only Illinois Central as a traditional roadname, on these lines. Amtrak, as well.

That is indicative of changing times. Canadian National, Norfolk Southern and Rail America, a part of that changing face.

If you like this modern era. An enjoyable two hours at these locations.

Still, a good program for those who prefer the good old days. Enough variety and plenty of action.

Rating: 4 Stars

Chicagoland Tower Views

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Producer: Michael Pirelli

Timeframe: 1999- 2000

Locations: Southside + Indiana

Length: 63 minutes

Source: Machines of Iron

Take a tour of 13 Chicago area Railroad towers. These are mainly inside visits. Southside area. All the way down to Hammond, IN.  These old towers, amoung the last ones operating.

Each tower has a map with trackage. An exterior view of the structure. Shots of the boards and levers.

Brighton Park shows all, except a train.

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A Chapter Menu is provided. A choice of on/ off narration. Smooth edits. Well paced.

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Too much to cover. Some highlights…

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Camerawork is steady. Some views are negatively affected by dirty windows. These units are going to Willow Springs.

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This local with ; Grand Trunk and Canadian National power. Rolls on former: Gulf, Mobile & Ohio trackage, to nearby Glenn Yard.

The narrative is limited. Rich Melvin does a fine job. Script is fine overall.

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State Line Tower, with some complicated trackage.

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Amtrak 305 to St Louis, at Corwith.

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Corwith Tower is an original Santa Fe. Serves BNSF here.

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Part of the board inside of Corwith.

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Blue Island Junction is an all time, classic hotspot. One of Chicago’s busiest!

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Wisconsin Central travels through Blue Island Junction.

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Blue Island. Iowa Interstate departs the old Rock Island, Burr Oak Yard. Vermont Street.

vlcsnap-2019-04-24-16h26m05s719State Line Tower has a long history. Once had over 200 levers! An original hotspot.

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A CSX locomotive leads through, Dolton. This location is action packed!!

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Indiana Harbor Belt had purchased some ex: Illinois Central Gulf SD20 rebuilds.

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Ash Street takes the cake, for a small tower. It is electrically operated. Chicago River is nearby.

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Conrail paint still appears, as at Calumet Tower. East Chicago. SD40-2 on a light move.

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This Norfolk Southern on a light engine move is at State Line Tower. On former N&W trackage.

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The video is shot well. Consider the premise. Tower views. Obstructed views. Not an easy task.

Metra locomotives sure are ugly! Gresham.

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Canadian Pacific with Soo Line, at Blue Island Crossing.

vlcsnap-2019-04-24-14h32m55s483Plenty of action at Hohman Tower.

vlcsnap-2019-04-24-14h30m19s794Hohman Avenue crosses into Hammond, Indiana. An Indiana Harbor Belt transfer run to and from Gibson Yard. Hohman Tower is now closed.

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A rare drawbridge operation is seen.

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Viewers get a chance to tour some of the last operating towers in the Chicagoland area. An interesting trip, which includes some locations that are uncommon.

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A worthy addition to any train video collection. Just a bit different!

Rating: 5 Stars