Michigan and Ohio Railroads in the late 1970’s

MORDVD

Producer: C Vision

Timeframe: late 1970s

Locations: MI +OH

Length: 1 hour 20 minutes

Source: Fred Crissey

Take a whirlwind tour back into the late 1970s. A cornucopia of locations. Multiple railroads. Some rarities that are worth the price of admission!

Fred Crissey was a busy Cinematographer. He was traveling in Michigan and Ohio here. Using an 8mm movie camera. All color film.

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A detailed Chapter Menu. On screen location graphics.

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Plenty of handy little maps.Switchable On/Off music. There are no train sounds.

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Full narration. A good script. Provides details on used locomotives. Certain train movements. Many of the lines. Probably, as complete as Fred’s notes.

Don Grant performs a smooth narrative.

Films are very clean overall. Color balance is very good. Well preserved.

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The show begins with a long Detroit, Toledo and Ironton segment. A show within the show.

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A scene of Street running in Ironton.

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Fred also shows trains, in context.

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He could do the mood shots too!

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The early Conrail material is the bomb! Much better than some of the competition. The paint still appears new on several ‘cockroach’ repaints.

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Former Penn Central F7A #1707 hits the diamonds. Renumbered in April, 1976.

vlcsnap-2019-05-26-14h56m20s749 Two Alco RS3 locomotives ,and a Baldwin. These on Michigan Northern. Rare film. This train is chased from Cadillac, Michigan. Former, Chicago and Northwestern 1617. The 2036 is an ex: Southern. 

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Alexis Tower is a definite highlight! A ton of action.

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Conrail paint is beginning to be seen.

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Chessie System in the 1970s was fantastic! Unmolested blue units could be seen from both; B&O plus C&O. Fred found both leading near Detroit.

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Try and find a C&O 5911 leading. A rare shot on 8mm film. Good supply of C&O.

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Chessie System steam suddenly appears!

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There is not much regular Chesapeake and Ohio out there. Let’s see some more. The 3575 is a GP35, in factory EMD paint.

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Ann Arbor is visited.

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You are asking. What about Grand Trunk? Only this one. Canadian National is present, as well.

Remember , the rarities in this show.

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A plethora of rolling stock is included, as this Burlington Route box car. He sometimes shows the entire train. Albeit, the shorter ones. Model Railroader alert!

vlcsnap-2019-05-26-15h16m19s337In fact, he did it here. Check the C&O caboose. Enjoy all of the hard to find C&O!

 

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A fun trip back to a favorite time of mine. The variety really gets rolling, and you never know what’s next. Much like the old days!

A solid show. Must see for 70’s railfans.

Rating: 4 Stars

 

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Into the ’90’s GT-2

s-l300

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

Chicagoland Tower Views

MOICTVD_209x300

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

 

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

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