Rio Grande of the Rockies


Producer: WB Video

Timeframe: 1940s- 1950s

Locations: Durango, Salida,Marshall Pass, Tennessee Pass, more..

Length: One hour

Source: Irving August

Here is Irving August, with his own collection of vintage Rio Grande films. Steam to diesel transition era. Color with Black and white film.

The quality 16 mm footage includes various classes of steamers. Standard and Narrow gauge! There is much coverage.


The cinematography is nicely done. Sometimes, there were 2 cameras to record scenes. Excellent views. Well positioned on S -Curves. Onboard views.


This old program is pro edited. Now appears dated. Picture is soft, on a large, modern screen. Shot quality can vary, as this was filmed over the years. Still very watchable.


No Chapter Menu. No maps. Has a small  transfer flaw or something, across the bottom of the screen.


Narration by Irving E. August himself. An oldtimer’s voice. Reading a script from a page. Every bit as stiff, and dry as it sounds. This was how some houses, were doing videos in the 1980s.

Rege Cordic performs a smooth introduction. They should have stayed with him. Oh well, moving on.


At Minturn. Locomotive servicing areas are shown.

Natural sounds let the viewers hear the engines operate. Dubbed of course. Some scenes work better than others. Levels are even. Good balance.

vlcsnap-2019-02-05-11h38m00s062Tennesee Pass in color, with mid train steam helpers.


Irving is knowledgeable. An excellent cinematographer! He is informative. He is also somewhat tedious, to listen to in this show. Like a very old fashioned school teacher, reading from a book.

By the fall of 1956. Steam on the standard gauge is almost through. That white plume blows high in the zero degrees!


These men did a great job of capturing the last days of these steam engines at work. Tough guys. Out in some very cold temps.

vlcsnap-2019-02-05-11h48m31s074South of Littleton. Check those automobiles!

Narrow gauge is also visited. Again, very well filmed. A little fuzzy on some locations. Mumbles it sometimes.


Clarity returns! The mine runs. Monarch. Switchbacks. Awesome close-ups. Action packed. Superb presentation.


Fascinating operation to see now…


There wasn’t any 911 this far out! Seriously, probably more for possible predators.


Irving visits Durango in 1951.


K27 Mudhens at Durango in 1951. The Silverton train ran behind 478 that day. Additional locomotive classes too. An outbound train to Salida.


The 318 with a rare freight train. This locomotive survives today.


The 268 at Gunnison, on it’s final workday. City park retirement will be follow.

In the snow 1952. 100 cars. Gunnison -20 and a train leaving for Crested Butte…


Hardcore action. These men were all about getting it on film. No food and a surprise invitation. Below zero weather. Let’s ride!


May, 1955 last run over Marshall Pass. Depart Salida, with empty gondolas for otherside cleanup. Return with any cleanout cars remaining on the line.

Once, was the location of the highest Post Office in the United States. Snow drifts could cover the entire structure.


Delivery has been made at Sergeant, Co. Return trip. Final run over Marshall Pass.


DRGW caboose was out in any color you like. As long as it was black.


Exception… Narrow Gauge in Brown.

Rio Grande of the Rockies. Covers the subjects as stated. Much of this film is rare. Especially in 16mm and color! Solid show.


WB Video, Irving August and Rocky Mountain Railroad Club deliver the goods.

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

Rio Grande Odyssey

Rio Grande OdysseyRGO

Green Frog Productions

Length: 2 1/2 Hours

Time Period: 1960’s to 1980’s

Locations: Denver, Moffat Tunnel, Royal Tunnel, Tennessee Pass, Leadville, Soldier Summit

Source: Emery Gulash

MSRP: 39.95

2014 Updated..

The Denver & Rio Grande Western in the Rocky Mountains. A healthy dose of steam operations on the Rio Grande narrow gauge is here. Speaking of steam, a standard gauge Burlington Route 2-8-0 is shown, working at Leadville.

cal zephyrA balanced presentation of, freight and passenger trains. Fascinating viewing.

Natural, scenic beauty is often the setting, for this train video. Emery Gulash made multiple visits there. His 16mm color film camera recorded the action. At 2 1/2 hours, there is good coverage of the Rio Grande. The 2 DVD’s are a worthwhile upgrade over the old vhs format. Chapter menu. Stereo sound. Train sounds by Emery . Fine, basic narrative by Bob Carrera.

2We begin in May 1964. The Wasatch mountains have F7A/B and GP9 locos. The F unit mid-train helpers were a surprise to Emery. Soldier Summit is a showcase for the weathered, covered wagons. This is mountain railroading! Great scenery, and over to Castle Gate. Denver Union Station is featured with the CB&Q, UP and DRGW trains.

5102 tt

DRGW 5102 rides the turntable at Alamosa.

antonitoIn May 1960, the dual gauge operation is shown and continued in 1964, at Alamosa and Antonito. Intriguing segment to say the least.

Matched sets of GP30,GP35, SD7, F7 units make for interesting viewing. The California Zephyr is frequently included.

rgz moffat 72The 2nd half is at Moffat Tunnel in 1972. Grand Jct. is a busy division point.

tippleA limestone operation is a highlight visit. Two GP- 30 locomotives are busy at work.



Burlington Northern / Colorado & Southern action.


A wide variety of cabooses are seen.


Emery was great at mood shots. Dusk falls at Helper.

tennessee pass 2

Mid-train helpers at Tennessee Pass. Much more….

cabGreen Frog has another excellent entry in their Odyssey series. This set is fantastic!

Rating  5 stars

Little Mikes In The Big Country

Little Mikes In The Big CountryLittle Mikes In The Big Country

Diverging Clear Productions

Length: 72 minutes and bonus

Time Period: 2012

Locations: Chama, Cumbres, Los Pinos, Lobato Trestle, Windy Point

Source: Kurt Jensen

MSRP: 20.00

The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is a narrow gauge line that is known worldwide. This operation had been covered for years by railfan photographers. The line was built by DRGW in 1880. Abandoned by Rio Grande in 1969. Cumbres and Toltec operation since 1970. Diverging Clear has their modern take on the road with this 2013 release.

487                    Cumbres and Toltec 487 has the shrillest whistle of the three.

Three K36 class 2-8-2 Mikados lead trains up and down the mainly southern portion of line. Baldwin built in 1925. These former Rio Grande locomotives were some of the last steam used in American revenue freight service. Much of the original equipment and many structures survive today. A few minutes of old film open the show. Watch for a black and white that turns to color scene. Our producer having fun!

1LovtrestleModern camera gear has sharp picture quality. Trains are the focus of this wide screen show.

windypoint                                                               Windy Point.

Basic narration seems to be the standard, on these tourist and museum visits by Diverging Clear. Location based information is delivered in a minimalist format. Kurt Jensen has credit for the cinematography and narration. He does a fine job with both, on the main feature.

summit488                       Engine 488 at the summit. Tall pines dwarf the diminutive train.

1aComposition and various viewpoints do capture the action nicely. Scenery is as much a part of the program as the trains. Good balance and the majority is very smooth to watch.

1cAudio has long stretches of hearing the locomotive work, as it traverses the terrain. Some of this is extended trainwatching is really quite charming.

488                                                     488 offers a closer view.

chama 1                     Chama is the home of C&T. Engine 484 passes the coaling tower.

488aK-36 class were some of the larger narrow gauge steamers on the Rio Grande.

cumbres                                                                         Cumbres

By the time we are following the third train, the format does get repetitive. This may have been a good time to ramp up the narrative. There is so much history on the line.

A bonus chapter of Riding the Cumbres and Toltec, is included as a second section. Producer Mary McPherson now likes to offer this type of footage for those who want the opportunity to see it. Mary is a real world Amtrak conductor. She loves trains and films them, as well. Although her intentions are well meaning, the results are not of compatible quality.

bonus2This screenshot is shown to convey the headache of travel to Antonito aboard this train…. The camera is shaking almost constantly. The rest isn’t this severe. Get the feeling?

Her desire to present everything, is also the downfall of shows like this one. The camera shakes so badly, this material is unwatchable. A painful, amateur 34 minutes. Spare me!

Extras such as: maps, timetables or interviews can also enhance the programs. None.

2In summary. The main program looks great overall. Overstays it’s welcome with repetition. Narrative could have used additional historical background. A well filmed and pretty solid show.  Viewers do get an excellent visual visit from 2012 season. Good.

The Second section is among the shakiest footage on a commercial release. This belongs on the cutting room floor. Fortunately, the menu gives the option to opt out . Rubbish.

Recommended for the main program only. That first section is worth your time.

Rating: 2 1/2 Stars

Mexican Narrow Gauge

Mexican Narrow Gaugecover

A&R Productions

Length: 1 hour 48 minutes

Time Period: Early 1980’s

Locations: Mexico and Texas

Source: Jim Terrell

MSRP: 30.00

Travel to and through parts of Mexico. Multiple trips were made into Mexico. A specialty release for those who could be interested in this journey on Mexican rails. Standard gauge rails become narrow gauge. Diesels include some unusual narrow gauge engines. Strangest power of all, are the horse drawn railroads, Jim Terrell captured the sights on a handheld video camcorder in the early 1980’s. He also includes an Amtrak ride in Texas.

ga8A bit of an oddball type of train video. Opening scenes of a jet, and plane ride to Cancun, a hint at a different show. The handheld camera gives an amateur feel. Not bad overall, give him credit for filming there. Audio is whatever the camcorder mic recorded. Background sounds are distracting at times. Plenty of views of: stations, people, scenery and structures give a sense of the traveler.

g12An EMD G12 has a G8 on a flatcar to get repaired. Mixed trains dominate narrow gauge operations.

Narration is pretty good. Lack of background on the lines is the major weakness. While most know N de M…… please explain FUS and some other railroad info. Anyone can search it, but the show should have offered the basic information. On the plus side, are locations and locomotive identification.

mapA couple of maps are seen at the beginning of the program. As most viewers are likely unfamiliar with these locations, more map references would be desirable.

acancThe pace of the show is a leisurely one. Looks like the pace of life in the area is slower too.

rsd12The program almost is in two halves. First is the journey on FUS to visit the horse lines. Second half concentrates on N de M on both rail gauges. More rail travel on the latter portion. The pace becomes quicker and we see more former Alco and GE standard gauge locomotives.

hc2Our first destination is to experience various horse drawn lines. While a few scenes would have been sufficient, to resolve curiosity, major screentime is spent on the horse lines. The program quickly falls into chasing and riding this form of rail travel. The wooden flats are used by families to haul themselves and whatever else may be transported by this method. Wild turkeys or cattle can temporarily block the track. This footage is something you will only need to see one time.

woodsSecond half of the show returns to narrow and standard gauge railroading. N de M is featured in different locales. High elevation in mountains and wooded areas add interest.


cabTwo distinct forms of rail service …


Mexican Narrow Gauge is a one of a kind train video. The presentation encompasses more than just runbys and passenger views. Food stands, workers shoveling coal or transloading cargo and more. Those who are interested may enjoy this one. Mainstream viewers will have to decide for themselves. Overall, it wanders along and doesn’t continually hold high interest. Not exactly my cup of tea- maybe it is yours.

Rating: 2 1/2 Stars