Today’s Chicago Railroads


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.


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.


There is a detailed, Chapter Menu. A master map, with nearly 2 dozen locations. Many close-up maps, as needed. Highly organized.


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!


As the sign says. To The Trains…

Alco C424 of Chicago Belt Railway.


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.


State Line Tower is far south. Norfolk Southern and CSX. Illinois – Indiana line.


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.


Blue Island has always been one of the best hotspots. Many roads move through here.


Chessie System, now CSX, with a long lash-up of light locomotives. Barr Yard is nearby, not visited. Blue Island action.


Dolton Jct. is very popular now. Easy to access, for railfans. CSX, Conrail and more.


More.. A grimy Missouri Pacific pair, trundle through Dolton.


McCook Crossing, features the busy Santa Fe Mainline. Multiple ATSF, trains passby. Willow Springs is next. Pre UPS days there.


The details of the trackage at McCook. Everyone seemed to exercise trackage rights, on the Indiana Harbor Belt!


Old, beater CNW geeps are seen here.

Grand Trunk , Chessie, IHB, Amtrak too.


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.


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.


The Burlington Northern Racetrack is a must see on any Chicago visit.


BN executive F units appear at Clyde yard in Cicero. You never know what shows up!


Hawthorne yard, has Belt Tower . This is visited inside. A former Illinois Central structure. Chicago Central was here. This structure, is gone now.


Brighton Park has a full – on stop. Rare, a Switchtender with a shanty. A GT transfer caboose, hits the diamonds.


Illinois Central SW14s on their ex: GM&O trackage. Note the unusual, hip cab roofs.


CR 5032 is next to get the wave at Brighton.


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.


The engine house and Bensenville yard run right along a public road.


Grand Trunk near Hayford Junction.


Hegewisch still has electric interurban service. Chicago South Shore Line.


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.


Chicago Short Line is another rare find.


Many of the trains, still employ a caboose. The Indiana Harbor Belt used these home built transfer ones for many years.


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


New England Steam: Six Main Lines

New England Steam: Six Main Lines NE6ML

Sunday River Productions

Length: 47 minutes

Time Period: 1930’s to 1950’s.

Locations: New England

Sources: Albert Hale, John Trolley, Charlie Brown

MSRP: 34.95

Intriguing collection of six steam railroads in New England. These films are  rare. A desirable assortment from black and white sources, to see featured in a show. Sunday River has each road with its own chapter. A promising lineup of vintage trains. The authentic steam audio is up front and adds extra energy. At least a third of the films are from the 1950’s. Check the automobiles and the freight cars themselves. Let’s take a look.

new haven main                                New Haven storms past, with a mainline freight train.

c5400CP 5400 is chased and receives a nice pan shot. There is plenty of fine cinematography.

Alva Morrison Sr. has brief narrative sections. He was an early producer of train films. Seems that some of these films are within this series of film shorts. The sparse narration of some parts, maybe where a viewer may want more information. On screen descriptions are used at times and they suffice.

cv millers fallsSome scenes have train sounds. Additional scenes use Classical music for background and transitions. You will usually have a good idea of location or area. Sometimes, train station signs are used for locations. A classic method used by old movie-makers. This 2013 release is focused on the trains. The trainwatching segments are augmented by a lively soundtrack of steam sounds. Kids will love it. Adults as well, those pieces are just plain fun!

This show was updated in 2013. Quality is very good. The later period footage is cleaner. Care has been taken in the overall production.

Canadian Pacific and Quebec Central. The trains move on both sides of the border. At least some of this is vintage 1950’s. A variety of trains are shown. Matter of fact, CP, GT and CV were among railroads that ran steam well into the 1950’s.

cp_136Canadian Pacific 4-4-0 #136 reverses and departs with a one car passenger move.

cp1Mixed trains contain a glimpse into life before the automobile, truck and freeway took over.

bar                                          Each of the railroads receive a vintage style map.

bar caribouThe Bangor and Aroostook in Winter. Ride a train in Maine. Some rough edits in this chapter.

rutland bf Rutland Green Mountain Flyer at Bennington Falls. Alva informs of the cheese car tacked onto the end of this premier train.

Central Vermont Railway appears to be one of the Alva Morrison original films. This entry has full and informative narration. The 2-8-0 Consolidations are co-star of the chapter.

cv s royalton Mountain type- 600 class locomotives are the other co-star on this 12 minute chapter. Note the 50’s pickup truck at South Royalton. This CV chapter feels the most complete of the collection.

cv 700 classAlso, Texas type- 700 class power was New England’s largest steam at the time. There is a good chunk of history in this Central Vermont film.

gt ip dh                     Grand Trunk frequently operated doubleheaders from Island Pond.

gt island pondA variety of GT action is shown. Grand Trunk also runs into the 1950’s. Notice the Alco RS3 diesel in a scene and a 1955 Chevy elsewhere.  It’s all worthy and still great viewing.

new haven hudsonNew Haven. The streamlined I-5 Hudson is a locomotive highlight. Check the script on the tender logo! Additionally, the last 3 cylinder locomotives in service are highlighted.

new haven i5 hudsonA rare surprise is a display of the brand new Hudson I-5 at New Haven. Take a quick ride on this special excursion to Poughkeepsie. The last one Baldwin manufactured #1409 was in 1937. The Comet passes by in another scene. Quite a bit is seen in this brief chapter.

gt cn cabooseThis scene is a Grand Trunk freight with Canadian National caboose. Brings back fond memories of train watching with my little brother. Although our  time was 30 years later, it was just as enjoyable. The image is simply… timeless.

New England Steam: Six Main Lines is a unique release from Sunday River. The combination of films results in a fascinating visit to the steam era. Perfect gift for the man with everything. Historical interest and plenty of action, for the entire family. Excellent show!

Rating: 4 Stars


A Quarter Century of Steam

A Quarter Century of Steam25

Diverging Clear Productions

Length: 4 1/2 Hours

Time Period: 1985-2010

Locations: Midwest, East, and more..

Sources: Jensen, McPherson, Redmond, Tom and Kyle Dunn

Producer: Mary McPherson

MSRP: 30.00

Where can you find 65 steam locomotives in a train video? Diverging Clear has just released a pair of DVD’s that are packed with over 4 hours of steam action. Many locomotives are found here. The usual suspects are ever present. Railfans already can guess those examples that were running during those years. Union Pacific, Nickel Plate, Norfolk & Western are the major ones. Frisco, Southern Pacific, Pere Marquette, and Southern are some others.

sr 4501Southern 4501

A small sampling of what you will see in this show . There is much more. Many locomotives no longer are in service. There is plenty of fine cinematography. Kids will love this one.

3985 Union Pacific 3985.

ssw 819bCotton Belt 819

There are rarities to be enjoyed. Viewers will see operating steam power that is no longer in service. Re-lettered locomotives such as former Canadian railroads round out the selection. Special excursions and train museums, are where the trains operate.

black hillsBlack Hills Central encounters a mother deer and doe.

A variety of sizes and classes are here. Diminutive narrow gauge. Large Northerns from UP and Milwaukee Road. Passenger power. Consolidations, Mikados and Shays. Strange looking Chinese steam, on US rails. Articulated, with UP, N&W. Saddle tanker and even a replica of an early 440 steamer.

slsf 1522Frisco 1522 in a stunning scene. Reminds one of classic Emery Gulash. Some engines, like this one are shown very often. Ditto for UP 844, UP 3985, NW 1218.


Kurt Jensen does minimal narration. Title screens offer the bulk of information. The program is better when Kurt adds more information.

grand canyonGrand Canyon

The show is arranged in chronological order. As one would expect, the quality increases over the timeline. 1985-2010. Editing is smooth. Sometimes, the lower quality is all there is of a rare scene. In that case, it’s better then nothing.


East Broad Top.

pm 1225Pere Marquette

soo 1003 2007Soo Line

mil 261This scene with Milwaukee Road 261 recalls the spirit of Lionel trains .

261A Quarter Century of Steam: 25 years. The show does contain many steam engines. It fulfills the advertised content. This reviewer does find the program overstays it’s welcome. There is too much repetition of the same engines. After awhile, the proceedings end up an excessive series of runbys. Seems that an hour or more would have served better. if presented as a separate bonus section.

gtw ocOhio Central has a restored Grand Trunk Western and more.

cn 89 strasburgCanadian National 89 is one of several steam engines seen at Strasburg, Pennsylvania.

There are 2 identities of DCP. There is the ‘new and improved’, with tight editing and sharper scripts. There is also the earlier incarnation. That has endless footage and simple narrative. This show falls into the early style.


It is geared as a basic ‘Best of DCP Steam’. That all being said, this is worthy for the assortment and the rarities. If those are appealing, jump on it!

Rating: 3 Stars

Conrail Winter

Conrail WinterConrail Winter

Green Frog Productions

Length: 69 minutes

Time Period: 1999

Locations: Detroit to Chicago line, Detroit to Toledo line.

Source: Rich Scheid

MSRP: 29.95

Conrail action in the winter of 1999. Many locations in Michigan and Ohio. A wide assortment of CR power. Many train types. Amtrak makes numerous appearances. Good variety of pool and run through locomotives. You never know what train is coming next.

whitefaceGreen Frog Productions are one of the industry standards. This show is a record of the last winter of Conrail, as recorded by Rich Scheid. He displays good camera skills. The lone issue is the setup is often at the grade crossing. Too much bell ringing for many scenes. Some of this can be forgiven. After all, it is winter and sometimes there is alot of snow. Green Frog limits some of the ding- ding, so it could have been worse.

2aNarrative is straightforward and clearly delivered. Script is operation oriented. Numerous descriptions of: train designations, locations, train types, origin/ destination and more. The high level of detail keeps a viewers attention. One can benefit with a better understanding of the railroad movements. Excellent work.

det jct ydConrail cab ride travels into Detroit Junction Yard. Note the coaling tower just ahead.

tv22 maumee                               TV-22 crosses the frozen Maumee River in Ohio.

stto 5636 An EMD SD60i (misidentified as an SD70i) trundles along a city street in Monroe.


The story begins just before a major snowstorm was due to hit the area. Problems caused by the severe winter storm and some of the solutions are discussed as the show progresses. Timeline continues until the season’s weather begins to subside. No maps are provided.

train blizzardA familiar sight to anyone who has experienced cold climate railroading. The speeding train seems to generate it’s own blizzard as it rolls by.

wolverine aaAmtrak Wolverine passes the former station at Ann Arbor. Superliners were used in place of the single level cars, which were frozen.

wauseonThe Lake Shore Limited with a long and varied consist at Wauseon, Ohio. The old New York Central depot has a caboose on display. Express cars, eight RoadRailers and a second locomotive on this one!

wyandottte gt detourInclement weather can result in detours. Grand Trunk is doing that very thing, at Wyandotte.

sttoLook closely. A crewman will have to dig the snow out with his hands. Snow has clogged the points of this turnout. The Toledo bound ST-TO, also has trouble with some frozen brake equipment on the switching here. All in a day’s work on Conrail.

Conrail Winter is both enjoyable and informative. Probably, best enjoyed with a hot beverage. You will feel the chill in the air. This show should appeal to most anyone- railfan or not.

Rating: 4 Stars

Steam in the 1940’s, 50’s, & 60’s : Special 7 PAK Boxset

Steam in the 40’s, 50’s, & 60’s: 7 PAK Boxset

Green Frog Productions

Format: DVD- R (7 disc boxset)

Length: 5 Hours 52 minutes

Time Period: 1940’s- 1960’s. Bonus 1990’s.

Locations: USA and Canada

Sources: Gene Miller,

MSRP: 59.95 ( Separate shows value is over 204.00)

The set is housed in a sturdy, hard plastic case. Each disc is mounted on a hard plastic page. Seems very durable.

Green Frog has a tantalizing boxset. This contains 7 discs and 7 complete shows. All of the programs have individual, full reviews on ATVR. A brief overview of each will follow.

All of the shows are digitally edited on state of the art equipment. Each disc has artwork.

Maximum fun calls for many different screenshots from the full reviews. Bonus for you!

The Golden Twilight of Postwar Steam Part 1: The Pennsy’s West End and it’s neighbors.

1947- 1950. Gene Miller 16mm.

                                                     Mountain type. M1

                                           Pennsylvania Broadway Limited.

Early diesels. A quartet of ‘chicken wire’, Electromotive F3 locomotives.

The Golden Twilight of Postwar Steam Part 2: Rails in the Heartland: The L&N, C&EI and IT

Gene Miller. 16mm.

                         L&N Mountain class at Howell Yard. Evansville, Indiana.

                       Steam and diesel are both here. A K-5 Pacific with an EMD E7 unit.

                   Chicago & Eastern Illinois departs the massive St. Louis Union Station.

                               C&EI has these pretty F3 engines. Nice variety on this railroad.

Illinois Terminal once had a sizeable trolley operation. Strange entry for a steam series.

The Golden Twilight of Postwar Steam Part 3: Cajon to Horseshoe- Trains Across Mid-America and the West.

Gene Miller. 16mm. 1940’s- 1950’s. Many railroads are seen. Color, plus black and white film.

Santa Fe steam shown from California, to Dearborn Station, in Chicago.

Union Pacific has an awesome collection. Cheyenne and Denver. Big Boys, Challengers, Northerns, switchers and those big 9000 class locomotives. Plus more!

St. Louis Kaliedescope has various lines. MoPac Heavy Mike 1417 shown. Some fine black and white, plus color in this show. Missouri Pacific has color also. Nice chapter.

                             Horseshoe Curve finishes up the Gene Miller films.

Steam in the ’50’s: Volume 1

Jerry Carson. 16mm. Covers 14 different railroads.

B&O with a pair of big T-1 class locomotives at Chicago. Plenty of classic B&O within.

                                Some great action on the Norfolk & Western.

                                  Chicago & North Western departs Green Bay.

Chesapeake & Ohio is a tough road to find, in the steam era. Like some others in this show, there are only a couple of trains.

Illinois Central Railroad. This one gets extended coverage. Assorted locations and trains.

                        Pennsylvania receives plenty of coverage. Doubleheaders too!

Steam in the ’50’s: Volume 2

Tom Strid. 16mm, mostly color. Shortest length show in the set. All classic.

                            Union Pacific Big Boy is eased across the wooden trestle.

See this locomotive being returned to America, at the dock. The General Pershing.

Circus World Baraboo train move to Milwaukee. Some unloading is shown at Milwaukee.

Steam in the ’50’s: Volume 3

Ted Carlson and Maynard Laing. 16mm. USA and Canada.

                                            Northern Pacific excursion chase.

                                  Hillcrest Lumber with Climax locomotives.

                            UP Big Boy pace sequence. More Big Boy action is seen.

                                                          Canadian Pacific.

                              Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Yellowstone steam.

The Bonus Show isn’t listed on the rear cover…

Steam Giants Across America

Compilation steam program. Some repeat footage from these other shows, in this set. Still, it is a fun standalone program, and not everything is from this collection.

             Some circa 1991 bonus footage includes: UP 844 and UP 3985.

                      Norfolk & Western with vintage and contemporary  era footage.

Green Frog has a big winner. This 7 DVD set is an awesome value. This ‘package deal’, is a fast way to build an instant steam collection. A big bargain, that outweighs any issues.

Highly Recommended for anyone with an interest in steam. The early diesels are equally fine. This Steam Special 7 PAK would make a memorable gift.

Rating: 5 Stars