Wire, Wings and Warriors – The Milwaukee Electrics

Wire, Wings and Warriors cover

A&R Productions

Length: 31 minutes

Time Period: around 1915- 1960’s

Locations: Avery, GE Factory, Harlowton, Pipestone Pass and much more..

Source: The Blackhawk Film Collection

MSRP: 30.00

Milwaukee Road electrified operations are the main feature in this show. Little Joe and early Boxcabs are the locomotives that get the trains over the mountains. Normal diesels are included, as the electrics were added to the road freights. The Olympian Hiawatha is seen as a separate entry, later in the program.

joeA&R Productions has a solid script, which is very descriptive. Ted Daluku is the familiar narrator. The Milwaukee Road Historical Society was involved in this presentation. Train sounds are heard in the background. Everything is well organized.

olympian hiawathaThe Blackhawk film collection used, is all black and white. Fine for the really old material. However, some of the Little Joe engines are operating much later. Also, the cinematography within is very good overall. The films are clean. Realize, this is 100% black and white.

1919 wh quill                           A 1919 Westinghouse Quill. A bipolar is in the show too.

rocky mtn div


Ride an EP-1 boxcab on the Rocky Mountain Division. Early era, when they were painted black!

mapLocations are referenced throughout. A handful of basic maps are helpful. Both the Rocky Mountain and Coast Divisions are covered.

ge erie                                        Visit the General Electric plant at Erie. See Boxcabs.

Avery                                                              Avery Yard

skytopWire, Wings and Warriors. The black and white film era was over in the 1950’s. However, The Olympian Hiawatha and earlier footage is fine with b&w. The detailed narrative is the strong point here. Milwaukee Road fans should be satisfied.

The sum total is the show is pretty good. If you can overlook the b&w factor on the Little Joes, an informative 30 minutes are viewed. Smooth and full of action, a fast half hour.

Rating: 3 Stars


The Hard Coal Roads: what went wrong

The Hard Coal Roads: what went wrongD143

Charles Smiley Presents

Format: Factory Pressed DVD

Length: 1 hour 40 minutes + 20 minutes previews

Time Period: 1970- 1976

Sources: Joseph Zook, Jack Kuiphoff, Will Whittaker.

MSRP: 28.50

Charles has the Eastern hard coal roads featured in the pre-Conrail era. This new program, contains a cornucopia of rare, and unreleased film. Featured railroads: Lehigh Valley, Reading, Jersey Central, Erie Lackawanna, Delaware and Hudson, plus Penn Central. There are also some connecting lines. Railfans will see an action packed show!

rs3Central Railroad of New Jersey. Red Baron paint scheme on an Alco RS3.

Much of the film has hard to find footage, in high quality. This collection surpasses anything that I have seen for the first three railroads. Face the facts, LV, RDG and CNJ are usually available in grainy, unrestored issues. They didn’t capture the attention of railfan cinematographers very much.

1919Riding a hard coal train in the year………….. 1919.

Hard coal… anyone?.. The answer is Anthracite coal… What went wrong?…Why are there nearly zero coal trains in this program?…. How does this lead into Conrail?….. Watch this show.

rdg5209Reading Lines had a unique, cab roof rain gutter over the cab windows. Number 5209 is a Century 424. It leans into a superelevated curve.

dh610Alco Centuries were part of the D&H Alco heavy roster. The lightning stripe livery, is a true classic. Number 610 is a C628. At 2750 horsepower, it was a powerful locomotive. One of three that still exist. This one survives at a museum in Mexico.

lv635Lehigh Valley C-628 in the stunning Snowbird scheme.

Alcophiles will love all of that builders diesels in use by these railroads. Plenty of Electromotive too.

pc tansboroCharles is also a talented model railroader. He has an eye for including scenes that are conducive to the hobby. Note all of the details in this scene. Structure, signals, rural crossing etc..


All six railroads benefit from Mr. Smiley’s extensive digital restoration. The colors are accurate. Images and the trains seem to jump off the screen.

cnjrsd5Jersey Central with a pair of Alco RSD-5 locomotives. Passenger trains are sometimes operating with leased power. Some unrepainted, second hand cars are surprising.

The audio levels are well balanced. The narrative and train sounds have even levels. There are various musical pieces interpolated throughout the show.

dh trackageAlways improving his products, check the updated maps. D&H with trackage rights.

bmAll CSP shows have nice surprises. A railroad that is hard to find, Boston & Maine.

elErie Lackawanna receives extensive coverage. All have their historical background described. Viewers will have an understanding of the regional big picture.

rdg map


A meticulous producer. Location awareness is always a priority. Using: narration, text graphics and a fabulous array of maps to enhance the story.

pc4603 e33Penn Central electric operations are one facet of the vast railroad.

el tuxedo

A 20 minute preview section is included. Total time is 2 hours. Man, I like the looks of Northeast Rails. Conrail fans will find plenty in these previews.

lv neThe USRA Northeast caboose is all over the show! Visible on different roads, in assorted liveries. Watch for these gems.

The Hard Coal Roads: what went wrong. I have watched the program and heard the history. Any railfan or model railroader should find this an enjoyable sojourn on these fallen flags. Extremely interesting and has the rarity factor. In short, this exemplary show is a must have!

Rating: 5 Stars

#Railroad#Train#LehighValley#Reading#JerseyCentral#ErieLackawanna#DelawareAnd Hudson#AmericanTrainVideoReviews

Lackawanna Legacy: The DL&W Electrics

Lackawanna Legacy: The DL&W Electricscve

Mark 1 Video

Length: One hour

Time Period: July- August 1984

Lcations: Hoboken, Dover, Gladstone, Montclair

Sources: 1984 color footage

MSRP: 30.00

Mark 1 has a comprehensive show about DL&W interurban service in 1984.  Three lines in New Jersey are featured. Old electric mu’s, which were original Lackawanna equipment. Delaware, Lackawanna & Western was the original ailroad name. Merged with Erie Railroad in 1960. Erie Lackawanna was the result.

The last 2 months of Edison Era electrics are on color film. Many, vintage black and white photographs. History is interspersed within the program.



Nicknamed as Wickerliners. Anyone who has ridden in one of these ancient coaches will identify with the name.


Jim Boyd of Railfan Magazine, is our narrator. Good narrative. The service to Dover and Gladstone will originate from Hoboken. There is historical background which sets up our 1984 visit to the lines. Maps are often referenced along the way.  On screen graphics are frequently used to show exact locations.

Audio is a mixture of: train sounds, musical backgrounds, and narration. The soundtrack is balanced among those elements. You may hear the train over the music, as well. Interurban programs can be difficult to have accurate sounds. Attention to detail has brought the nice results.



Lackawanna’s right of way is a study in contrasts. Stations are sometimes, squeezed into the surrounding landscape. Further away from the metropolis, there is space and more greenery.


Diesels share the rails with the venerable electrics.

newark                                                                     Newark.

gladst                                                                  Gladstone.


August 24, 1984 was the final run to Gladstone. Train 629 to Dover was the last train of the old electric service multiple units. NJ Transit reopened with a 25,000 volt modern system.

mpA brief segment with the new trains follows to close the show.

Lackawanna Legacy: The DL&W Electrics is an engaging look at that service. A well done program that pays tribute to the old Multiple unit electrics. Great for the railfan.

Rating: 4 Stars

Milwaukee Road West

Charles Smiley Presents Milwaukee Road West

Charles Smiley Presents

Format: DVD (factory pressed disc)

Length: 67 minutes + previews

Time Period: 1955-1978

Locations: Chicago to Seattle, Avery, Milwaukee, Missoula, Three Forks, Deer Lodge…

Sources: George Barnes, Bob Finan, John Pertos, Bo Golson, Gino Pagliaro

MSRP: 28.50

The Long Road to Extinction is the aptly named subtitle. Milwaukee Road’s last quarter century is examined, as only Charles Smiley Presents can do. An extremely high level of detail provides viewers a knowledge base of Milwaukee Road. Friends and rivals, are an important element to put the railroad in perspective. Plenty of color film from the additional lines will assist the narrative.

We begin in 1955. Steam and early diesels are the power. An intriguing look at different styles of tailcars around the passenger yard at Milwaukee.

Sourced from 8mm and Super 8 color films. Quality is good to excellent. While not always pristine images, they are interesting scenes. All the cameramen have good composition. Digital enhancements have those vintage scenes appearing as best as possible.

A number of scenes are from circa 1955. Chicago is a colorful showcase of railroads!

Check the dual pantographs raised near Butte, Montana. See Milwaukee Scrapbook by Charles Smiley for much more coverage, of the electrified territory.

Outstanding and accurate! Live audio is custom matched, to the various locomotive models. Multiple sources were listed for the sounds. Painstaking attention to detail.

Unparalleled, custom made maps, are one of the nice extras that are contained in all CSP shows. These are labor intensive, handcrafted illustrations. Referenced at key points throughout the presentation. Also, there is an extended preview section containing more titles of: mainline, electrics and trolley/ interurbans.

This 1917 built substation, at Avery is about to receive visitors. They will see the interior and hear the turbines startup. Who are the visitors going to be ????…….. all of us !

A PBS style of production, many facets of the railroad are revealed. Judicious use of: still photographs, memorabilia and fitting music, are combined to augment the program. Natural train sounds and  the electric power substation are memorable.

Narration by Charles Smiley is engaging and very informative. He is just as interested in the subjects as the viewers. This area is critical and sometimes overlooked by others. Poor narratives can detract from a good show. Charles always has amazing discussions.

Milwaukee’s famed electrified portions of the Pacific Extension are a major subject. Little Joes are a centerpiece. Fascinating segment of operation at an old roundhouse.

Eastbound Hiawatha engaged in a stub end station move. Note the beavertail observation.

This show has a large share of the other railroads, that operated in the same territories. Some of this footage overlaps with his releases. Each individual story does get elevated by inclusion of the films. If Great Northern or Burlington Route is discussed, let’s see it!

Cabooses are seen on many of the freights. A large supply in assorted roads. Fantastic. Wooden, Steel, Composite, Cupola, Bay Window, Wide Vision, Transfer. Collect them all!

Rock Island is notable with a chapter of this movie. A sweet assortment of early to mid 1970’s footage. Some decrepit diesels and trackwork are familiar reminders of 70’s era Rock Island. Alco, GE and EMD locomotives, are all here.

Monon Alcos are one of the rare inclusions. Butte, Anaconda & Pacific is another. All of the Hill Lines are included. Burlington Northern, Chicago Northwestern, and Union Pacific too. Indiana Harbor Belt even gets into the act! Louisville and Nashville. Montana Rail Link makes an appearance. Even more lines, in a plethora of paint schemes.

Milwaukee Road West has a wide ranging collection of vintage films. Easily could be subtitled, Railroads to The Pacific Northwest and more. The comprehensive show is a cornucopia of; some legendary and little known railroads. A ‘must have’ for Milwaukee Road fans. Rock Island and Electric aficionados take note, you are missing out.

Railfans and Model Railroaders will find this show to be enjoyable. It also serves as a fine reference resource. A definite, deluxe presentation that people can revisit with satisfaction.

Rating: 5 Stars

Municipal Railway Vintage Scrapbook

Municipal Railway Vintage Scrapbook (D-141)

Charles Smiley Presents

Format: DVD

Length: 1 hour 31 minutes + Previews

Time Period: Post WW2 to 1980’s.

Locations: San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Kansas City, Toronto, Milan, and more!

Sources: Over 15 film sources

MSRP: 26.50

Charles Smiley has given considerable attention to Bay Area transit. His Key System releases are ‘must see’ shows. The Muni, as locals call their trolley system has briefly appeared on CSP. A dedicated program of San Francisco Municipal is most welcome.

                                         An ‘Iron Monster’ turns on a tight corner.

An extremely comprehensive program. No stone is left unturned. Ten letter lines, Market Street galore, and formation of BART are all here. We will venture to other cities and even other countries to witness vintage trolley cars in operation, way back in the day. This expansive overview is full of surprises.

The show gallops across the decades. Action packed and many, many assorted PCC cars in a world that has passed into history.

In a word, this shows is: Colorful! Beautiful restoration and digitally enhanced films are the foundation of this program.

Tight curvature, tunnels, street trackage, and single car trains offer unlimited possibilities for modellers.

Stunning soundtrack that brings many of the street scenes to life! Squealing wheels on curves, automobile traffic and it’s much more than just generic car audio. Obviously, an extreme effort was involved to bring this aspect to the viewers.

Those custom made maps are very labor intensive to produce. They are in abundant supply. Viewers will always maintain a sense of direction and location around San Francisco. the various letter lines are explored and explained in detail.

A trip out to the Zoo is illustrated along the L line. Note the tunnel designation. Check the turnaround loop at the Zoo.

The locations and the years bounce around at a quick pace. On screen graphics are a nice touch.

Cable cars are probably the most famous aspect. Here the crew hand turns the car. Excellent chapter on the history, operation and updates to the cable cars.

A bonus to watching the old films are the inclusion of period: autos, trucks and buildings/ signage. An old Safeway looks on to the trolley passing. An Oldsmobile Cutlass is seen here. Yes Junior, they made cars, as part of General Motors.

The year is 1954. Market Street business is vibrant. This street gets extensive coverage, in multiple time periods.

A restored service car that now is passenger hauler. An early livery adorns this car. This car is the sole survivor of a class of 125. Charles has very detailed and complete narration. Too much info to absorb in a single sitting. This show will teach the viewer about the transit operations and provide a wealth of history. There are some pivotal points that kept San Fran in the trolley business, when other cities were busy scrapping theirs.

Towards the conclusion, various other cities are visited. Historic reels display trolleys in places such as: Boston, Chicago, Kansas City and Los Angeles. Muni has acquired cars from these US cities.  Chicagoans will appreciate the old Drewrys Beer signage. Chicago Transit Authority.

               Full Color 1940’s footage. Note the old Fox Theater in the background.

In summary, this is another outstanding release, from one of the top producers of train videos. The reasonable list price represents a good value to buyers. If you have never purchased a trolley show, this is a great one to start an interurban collection.

Rating: 5 Stars