Railfanning With The Bednars Volume 5

Railfanning With The Bednars Volume 5



John Pechulis Media

Years: 1973- 1976

Locations: Allentown, Sayre, Lehigh Gap and more… Pennsylvania and perhaps elsewhere?

Source: Bednar collection

Length: 58 minutes

Here is one of the John Pechulis series of Bednar filmed, Eastern Anthracite Railroads. This volume 5 covers much more, then the 10 months preceding the formation of Conrail. Footage dates back to 1973! Locations jump around in a timeline  format.

Sounds like this was from Mike Bednar father’s collection. Found after the previous volumes were released. Not having seen any of the previous shows. I do not know if any of this film is Mike’s, or how everything fits together.


Majority of cameras were focused on the larger railroads of this era. Quality footage is harder to find, of Lehigh Valley and Reading Railroad. We are quite fortunate, the Bednar films are available.

There are not any maps to follow. No chapters either. A formal organization is not apparent. The show does play better than it appears, organizationazionally speaking.


Mike Bednar was an experienced railroad professional. He worked as a Towerman for years. He knew operations cold. Names nearly everyone who appears on film. Knows the designations of the trains. Locations are usually offered. Often, the contents of freight cars are known! This adds quite a bit of interest.

I would have liked to have had some in program,reference maps. Where the heck is Sayre? Lehigh Gap? Bloom?


Strange places. Geographical orientation would have been desirable.

Model Railroaders will love the attention paid to freight cars! Plenty of yard scenes like this one. Freight consists with road trains are viewed. Valuable information of period weathering, as well.


Reading GP30. In case you don’t know. Mike doesn’t do the locomotive call-outs often. Yes, he seems to know them all. At times, he will spit them out. Usually, too busy telling a story or giving an explanation or an opinion!

Film quality is excellent! John Pechulis goes through some detailed restoration process, from what I understand. The results are outstanding!


The high resolution is the high point of this production. Very clean looking film. Accurate colors. Nicely done. Bi-Centenntial paint was seemingly everywhere if you were alive in 1976!

Sound is dominated by Mike Bednar’s very detailed narrative. Expert level commentary.


Occassional humorous comments. Depth of knowledge is fascinating. He spent his life on the railroad. Very apparent when you listen to him speak.

There are natural sound scenes. Other scenes have musical background. Everything is balanced to acceptable levels. Narration is the dominant form.


There  is a large variety of motive power to be viewed in Volume 5. Lehigh Valley is the main feature. Reading has plenty to be seen. Delaware and Hudson, also puts in a strong showing. Very colorful era!


Not to be forgotten. Erie Lackawanna.Bednar travelled to record EL F-units operating at Bloom. Wherever the heck that place is located!  in this program. Additional EL power is present. SD power history was controversial on this Bloom line. GP35 locos are seen elsewhere on a freight.

Lesser amounts seen are Jersey Central. A few cameos by others. B&O and some steam power.


By this late date. Deferred maintenance has become a serious problem. Bad derailments have.caused some major wrecks! A few are on this show.

Large cranes are shown operating. This demonstrates the type of access that the Bednar’s enjoyed. They were able to get close to the action.


Hulcher equipment is likely rare footage. Mike believes it was the intial usage of them, on a wreck, on Lehigh Valley. Interesting, this show contains the old steam era cranes and the modern Hulcher style of wreck removal eqiupment. Mike was a proud professional. These men were upset to see their once excellent roads deteriorate.


A wide variety of motive power is on tap. Alco Century locomotives are operating on the Lehigh Valley plus the Delaware and Hudson. General Electric is making obvious inroads. EMD is easily found amoung all the railroads. All in all. This is a great looking collection of the Bednar films.


Cinematography is excellent overall. Nice, camerawork. Colors look great! Everything is well-balanced. A top notch appearing DVD.

Narrative is informative and interesting. Once you become used to Bednars voice. Well, it is authentic. I do find him entertaining!


Certain items that are not present. Maps and chapter selection, are what keeps this show, from the excellent rating .There is the difference between say a Charles Smiley Presents and this John Pechulis. No favoritism. Both productions can look outstanding. Both can be informative. It is those extras that are or are not included.

Very Good. A worthwhile look at some action in the 1970s NorthEast Railroads.

A strong and enjoyable show.

Rating: 4 Stars




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

The Lehigh and New England Railroad Volume 2

The Lehigh and New England Railroad Volume 2 LNEV2

John Pechulis Media

Format: DVD

Length: 66 minutes

Time Period: 1954- 1961

Locations: Bath, Martin’s Creek, Dexter, Nazareth,Goshen, Pen Argyl, Maybrook ,more

Sources: Randoph Kulp (collection), Arthur Angstadt (collection), Charlie and Ken Bealer

MSRP: 30.00

This second volume continues The Lehigh & New England railroad. Filmed between 1954 and 1961, this show was filmed in 8mm. John Pechulis has made the most of the format. Besides the scarcity of any LNE films, these are specially processed for maximum appearance. Volume One was impressive. Continuance of the story, is on tap here…

northampton bathNorthampton & Bath is the first railroad viewed at Bath. An early Baldwin- Westinghouse diesel is a strange sight. LNE and DL&W also work in Bath. The mills are busy!


The Lehigh and New England had a two color livery based on the railroads largest commodities. Black for coal and white for cement. Anthracite coal collapsed and left LNE with Portland cement as the main revenue. Downsizing of the railroad was to focus on the cement plants. History of the cement industry begins the story. Those operations are the main feature, in this second volume from John Pechulis.


The secondary element contains bridge and connecting traffic, such as the Maybrook Turn. Alco FA locomotives work these jobs.

mapMaps like this are frequently referenced. Viewers can visualize say,  Tadmoor to Martin’s Creek. Kudos for the many inclusions. Still, no chapter menu or next function. A menu is an expected standard from most producers on current releases. They are convenient to have.  John Pechulis gives detailed narration on the locations that are highlighted.

mctMike Bednar is the main narrator. This shot, follows the Dexter map introduction. He describes the train, location and operation being performed. Insightful and concisely descriptive, Mike knows these trains!

dexterDexter had enough cement business for LNE and Lackawanna! Early Erie Lackawanna is identified by renumbered units. All the cement mills were served by 2 or 3 railroads.


June 20, 1960. A fine sequence at Dexter Tower. Various LNE and Lackawanna trains cross the diamonds. Each train is explained fully. Martin’s Creek turnarounds on LNE. Lackawanna has one heading to Bath.


Alcophiles will love this action oriented production. Audio matches the high quality of this release. Alco diesels, and environmental sounds play really fine!

2Action at Dexter.

917Delaware, Lackawanna & Western interchange. Check the LNE in the background.


There are more diverse views in the later parts of the program. Additional connecting lines are included. Interchange is critical for bridge traffic. Face it, this road was in the middle of nowhere, for the most part. Maybrook was in decline at this early 1960’s point. Emphasis on the interchanges is highlighted. Above is a cool view of just one.

s5Susquehanna provides a nice change of pace. Alco RS-1 and S-2 locomotives in fairly long lash-ups. A number of trains by Suzie-Q are shown.

Maybrook in October, 1956 is a highlight! New Haven, NYO&W, Reading Trainmasters, and New Haven Lima switchers are all shown. A fantrip traveled to Pen Argyl yard behind New Haven PA engines.

1961The year 1961 was the end of the line for Lehigh & New England Railroad. This wreck with a shoefly through the middle is an absolute must see!


cab3The visuals are truly excellent in quality. The initial show had a larger version of  LNE to portray. Connecting the other railroads, with a smaller LNE adds interest. Smartly done!

One shortcoming, and on Volume 1. Lack of chapter menu, or chapter function. Could be as basic four parts. Cement: Parts 1, 2, 3. Maybrook: Part 4. Having to fast forward the entire program to view Maybrook is very inconvenient. This does not compare with other producers. Let it slide on the first volume, but minus a 1/2 star here.

The Lehigh & New England Railroad Volume 2 is an excellent program. Alcophiles and Eastern fans will adore the show. Vintage railfans and model railroaders should enjoy this rarity. This release is jam packed with classic scenes.

Volume Two is a worthy sequel in the series. Works as a standalone. Enjoy them both!

Rating: 4 1/2  Stars

Northeast Vintage Diesels

Northeast Vintage Diesels

Green Frog Productions

Length: 34 minutes

Time Period: Late 1950’s- 1960’s

Locations: Conneaut, South Plainfield, Bear Mountain, Erie, Pocono Summit, Lakeport…

Source: Bill McClellan

MSRP: 24.95

Classic railroad action from the late 1950’s, into the mid 1960’s. Ohio and the Northeast are the covered states. Many eastern railroads are included within this show. This fast paced tour is jam packed and makes the most of a rather short length. Cab rides and a wide array of trains ramp up the adrenaline.

Bill McClellan filmed this all color collection in gorgeous 16mm. Dolby Digital sound on a fine sounding audio track. Natural sounds are combined with a smooth narrative. The dubbed train sounds are a good choice. Narration has an on/off option. An older release, there are no maps or chapter menu.

There are the big class ones, New York Central, Pennsylvania, and Erie Lackawanna shown. This review will focus the majority of screenshots, from other Northeast railroads.

Bill McClellen was accompanied by his boys on some outings. They do grow as the years pass. The beginning is centered at Conneaut, Ohio. Although mainly freight trains, there are passenger moves, interspersed throughout the program. Electrics on Pennsylvania and Budd RDC cars are also in cameo shots.

This shot tells of the Norfolk & Western merger. Wabash is represented on the right with a cylindrical covered hopper. Nickle Plate has the caboose. So take your pick. Cannonball Service or High Speed Service? N&W chose to take both.

This cab ride contains the former structures intact at Conneaut, Ohio. A later ride shows some buildings here, being demolished. Retired Berkshires are lined up on a previous visit to Conneaut Yard.

Erie Lackawanna and it’s predecessor paint schemes are here. Assorted  Geeps and solid F units in multiple unit lash-ups. Overhead and ground level views.

Bessemer & Lake Erie with some Alco RSD-12 units on the lead of a coal drag.

                                         Jersey Central has an extended segment.

                                         Lehigh Valley has good coverage as well.

                                            Central Vermont was a surprise!

Erie Lackawanna Maintenance of Way. The large crew has much equipment at work. The cameraman gets unbelievable close-up views. Film within the film. Fascinating.

Boston & Maine EMD SW1. One of the best looking liveries, on a switcher!

Too many choices of great screens to showcase. There are the vintage cabooses on most of the featured railroads. A mixture of distant and closer viewpoints.

The Northeastern caboose type is prominent. There are additional styles too.

                            Lehigh Valley had this pair crossing a tall bridge/ trestle.

Lakeport, New Hampshire provides a bucolic setting for this Boston & Maine freight.

Northeast Vintage Diesels is an excellent show! The running time is rather short. What is seen, really packs in high quality viewing. Anyone with an interest in classic trains will find this an enjoyable program.

Rating: 4 Stars

The Santa Fe In Chicago (Slideshow)

The Santa Fe In Chicago (Slideshow)

John Szwajkart

Format: DVD

Length: 1 hour 37 minutes

Time Period: 1950’s- 1980’s

Locations: Chicago, McCook, Willow Springs, Joliet and more

Sources: John Szwajkart, John Darling-b+w

MSRP: 25.00 or 2 for 40.00

This is a slideshow presented on a single DVD. The Santa Fe is the featured railroad. Many other railroads appear within this show. Time period is highly desired 1950’s to 1980’s. The 1960’s and 1970’s receive prominent coverage. Arranged in a geographic fashion. Locations are highlighted and trains that appear in assorted years follow.

Some special sections highlight Dearborn Station for example. Some maps denote areas that are to be viewed. The maps are a little tricky to decipher, better suited to a large screen. No narration. On screen graphics contain most of the information.

The show is about 85 to 90% color. The black and white shots are generally good. Many color pictures are of excellent quality. Composition and color balance look great on the vast majority of photos. The sound of a vintage slide projector is the soundtrack. Hey, these slideshows will grow on you.

OK. Let us see what this show is all about.

The trip begins at 21st Street in Chicago. Pennsylvania, Monon and GM&O are seen. Santa Fe will be seen in larger numbers later. This chapter is black and white

The show will follow the line out to Joliet. A multitude of other Chicago area trains keep the slideshow surprising. The color slides really look good.

See how the years bounce around? Locations are the dominant theme of organization.

                   The classic warbonnet trains are plentiful. The one you want.

Action at Corwith Yard. A ride on Archer Avenue almost guaranteed seeing Santa Fe.

How do you spell rare? Alco alligator RSD-15 at Corwith. Railfans will be happy with the rarities. You will have to see the rest…

Willow Springs was a great location. Sadly, the classic station is boarded up in this 1978 view.

Gulf, Mobile & Ohio had The Plug serving Chicago to Joliet. Stopped at Willow Springs on a parallel line (GM&O), though a bit distant from ATSF trackage there. The Plug, ran without heat many times. Those daily commuters knew to bundle up in the winter.

Joliet provides a plethora of trains. Rock Island, GM&O and ICG as well.

                        Amazing! Cat whisker FT’s on freight. The other one you want.

          GP 20 and GP30 locos, in yellow pinstripes, were fairly recent power in 1967.

What’s wrong here? Passenger F7 units demoted to freight service. Amtrak.. Bah!

John prefers steam. This 2 fer shot includes all those US Mail trucks and trailers. Much of the mail used to move on the rails.

                         Dearborn Station At Night. Fantastic shots to be found at Dearborn.

                               A  bonus with Alco PA’s. The one you wanted the most!

This show has over 280 slides. It was tough to narrow down to a select handful. Some other railroads seen: C&WI, CNW, B&O, C&O, Chessie, New York Central, L&N, C&EI, Norfolk and Western, Grand Trunk, Canadian National, Burlington Northern,Belt Railway, Erie Lackawanna, Penn Central, and more.

This presentation captures the feel of Chicago area railroading, as it was. Chicagoans have a tendency to model nearly everything. This slideshow demonstrates why that is.

       We need a caboose for the end. One more thing about Chicago, it is too cold.

The Santa Fe In Chicago as SS7 from John Szwajkart. This is must see for Santa Fe.  fans. Just about any railfan should like this show.

Rating: 4 Stars