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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Street Running

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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

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

Conrail’s Beginning

Conrails-Beginning-A-Look-at-the-Eastern-Half-DVD-CRB

Producer: Clear Block

Timeframe:1976

Locations:East

Length:100 minutes

Source: Paul Geiger

In May, 1976 Paul Geiger took his 8mm movie camera to film Conrail. This is early in the merger. He visited many locations.

Another unrestored vintage, 8mm color film collection. The films are clean. Dark scenes too often. Nothing weird color wise. Good to very good, except for brightness issues. No maps or extras are included.

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The show does have natural sounding train audio. The sound is fine.

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Narrative is somewhat stiff in nature. Although, very busy and thorough. I see Paul Geiger narrates it himself.

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Too much to get everything here. Look at some highlights. Generally, everyday proceedings. In retrospect, this was a snapshot of 1976. See what is happening…

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Paul travels around Eastern points of Conrail. He will sometimes pan a scene. Mainly, this show is wall to wall action!

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Check this Conrail GG-1 at Enola Yard. Everyone was in, on the special celebration of the bi-centennial year.

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A grand Buffalo area tour. Bison Yard and Frontier Yard in Buffalo, NY. Tower visits. Buffalo Terminal. Historical aspects too. Amtrak E units are trading places here.

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Binghamton, NY. and the Delaware and Hudson. BD Tower. Binghamton station . Lackawanna Depot.

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As Paul travels around the new Conrail. He also films from a vehicle. Two for one shot. Kingsley Viaduct and a classic Texaco.

This one is for the Model Railroaders!

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Early merger units may display a renumber. As on this Erie Lackawanna.

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A cornucopia of trains! All kinds. Sans active steam. E-44 electric locomotives here.

 

A quick visit to Sayre,PA. and the Lehigh Valley.

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Coxton Yard. Lehigh Valley RS11 is working.

Allentown Yard at R Tower.

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RDC Bethlehem Reading line. Take a tour ride to Reading Terminal, in Philadelphia, PA.

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Lehigh and Hudson River visited. Very quiet. Nothing active at the moment.

Maybrook Yard is abandoned. Unused since 74 fire on Poughkeepsie bridge.

New York Central station. Penn Central FL9 Poughkeepsie. Hudson River line.

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Amtrak. Metro North, and New Haven. All crammed into the dense city areas.

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New Jersey Transit. Many GG-1 led trains are seen. Even in black Amtrak paint.

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Elizabethport, NJ. Central of New Jersey

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Reading PA receives an extended look.

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Reading fans will see a good supply.

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Pennsylvania Rockville bridge is very busy. Paul does a fine job of showing us this hot spot.

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A rare EMD electric demonstrator.

Altoona in the summer of 1976, is very busy.

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Horseshoe Curve. These three GP35 units, contain key components of the new Conrail.

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There is plenty of Penn Central freight moving through the Altoona vicinity.

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Fresh Conrail paint appears more frequently, as the summer of 1976 continues.

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Penn Central 6254 is an SD40. Compare with Conrail blue below.

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May of 1992. Video update with Penn. area.

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A solid composite, of the birth of Conrail. Consistent camera work. Good soundtrack. Well organized. Coverage includes quite a lot of territory.

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

 

Rail Trek Volume One: The East

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Producer: Ron McElrath

Timeframe: 1960s-70s

Locations: East-South

Length: 140 min

Sources: R. McElrath, W. Sasser

One of three Rail Trek volumes. Eastern version. Wide coverage over 20 railroads. Updated in 2017 by Revelation Video for DVD release.

The new DVD has film repairs listed as: cleanup on splices and edits. Original sources of 8mm and Super 8. These still show limitations. Good to fair picture quality. Green overcast on occasional scenes.

 

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A detailed Chapter Menu is a fine addition. This lengthly program needs this feature. Especially, as it spends too much time on certain subjects. Definite pacing issues.

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A new, update (on- screen graphic) is used to correct previous narration mistakes. Even a bit of additional information.

The show is in full color. Brief segments with some live audio. Mostly a musical background. Same as previous edition.

Fully narrated by Ron McElrath. Same as the VHS series. Above scene from Marion.

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Show is a mixture of lineside and passenger train ride films. Covers a huge range of territories! Waynesboro, if you have trouble reading.

There is more than a basic review can fully get through here. Overview with some of the important parts to know.

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The railroads in the Southern states are hard to find. These alone, make this worth consideration. L&N, C&O, Southern, Auto-Train. Ride upon and view trains. You just don’t find much of anything, in the South on a train DVD.

Good developments, later in this show.

Earlier on, it was dragging badly. Roads that I like too. Just revolving, around and around, on passenger trains.

*Breakdowns are boring. The audience doesn’t care. Stuck like a bug on flypaper. Cut it short! The show is dragging…

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Endlessly looking around on New York Central. Finally, get out of there.

 

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Look! A neighbor, called New Haven. A chilly trip. Out and back, on a branchline

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A huge commuter mover. More than just Jamaica Yard. Long Island Railroad. Receives maybe, a minute! Really? Ugh…

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Only to get fixated, upon the very attractive Delaware and Hudson Alco PA locomotives.  Move it along…

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Norfolk and Western. This one scene is the best looking. Kind of loses it at Kenova. Experiments with shots and most don’t work. Chesapeake and Ohio. He blows most of the shots here miserably…

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Louisville and Nashville. Excellent choice. Rides an oddly named Pan Am train.

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C&O. 2nd chance. Gets it right now!

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Southern. Look South. GP30 looks awesome with a high hood.

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Birmingham. Hot Spot deluxe. A manned swing gate. Frisco here. More trains are seen. Who knew about this? Gate open…

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Take another look… Gate closed. Excellent.

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Florida. Auto Train gets a glimpse. Florida East Coast with a caboose is included within.

Florida has much more.

Pittsburgh in 15 minutes.. A fine chapter!

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Obligatory Amtrak shot. Cooler than most, with Three Rivers stadium!

 

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Pittsburgh and Philadelphia had vibrant trolley systems too. McElrath shows quite an assortment in both cities. I only have space for one. You’ve been told about it.

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Still in Pittsburgh. B&O action all around.

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Pittsburgh & Lake Erie. A train ride there.

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ATVR bonus. The Orange C was a give to ‘Green team’. New York Central. Red P was supposedly Red team. PRR staff. Neither side was satisfied. Everything reverted back to all white lettering. The rare, Orange C sure looked better to me! At Marion.

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In Ohio, things really get moving along. Erie Lackawanna is plentiful.

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Detroit, Toledo & Ironton, shows up for a minute.

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Marion Hot Spot. The ultimate all time?

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Get your good Norfolk and Western here.

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Recent early 1980s steam inclusion. Needless here. Better quality, easily is obtainable elsewhere. Quit when you are ahead.

Matter of fact. All steam on this show doesn’t really fit. Including, the poorly filmed breakdown outing, in the cold. Drags it down. Time waster that should not be here.

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Now, Atlantic Coast Line is a caboose, one rarely sees in service. There are some hard to find ones, bringing up the rear.

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Rail Trek Volume 1 The East The 1960s- 70s.

This show sure gets around. Large amount of railroads. A supply of rarities. Overall, weak on film quality. Needs some additional editing, for time. Create a stronger presentation.  Nice updates on the VHS. You have: the good, the bad and the ugly. A mixed bag. Make your choice.

Rating: 2 1/2 Stars