Whistler’s Western – The Boston & Albany RR

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Producer: A&R

Timeframe: 1934-1989

Locations: B&A

Length:1 hour

Sources: Blackhawk collection

This comprehensive, historical overview is complete. History from the 1830s. Films dating back to the 1930’s, document the constant activity.

The Conrail era brings the B&A current, as of the production year. Conrail footage bookends the story.

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The writers dove deep on this program. Lecturing on the early incarnations, that were later rolled into the larger company.

Frequent map usage illustrates the territories. Multiple maps are posted of various areas. Extremely helpful for those who are unfamiliar, with this region.

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This program is approximately: one half, black and white, film. High quality footage, for the most part. All of this, is shot very well. Also, Hudson class steam galore!

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The diesel era is in quality, color film and video. This includes some cab rides.

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Majority of the film sourced audio, would be dubbed. Video of Conrail should be live. A fine sounding show.

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Ted Daluku performs his usual pro level narrative. The script is very well written. Chronological progress makes it easy, for even non railfan viewers to follow. Steam to diesel. Good for family viewing.

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Steam powered 20th Century Limited trains are shown.

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A 1932 Chevy gives chase to this train!!

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Away he goes…

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Checkout the heat running in that old, snow covered caboose. Baby, it’s cold outside!

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RDC car provides some interurban service.

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New York Central, with rare Alco RS 32 models.

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The Penn Central is a part of the Boston & Albany story. Much more coverage in Vol.2.

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Amtrak SDP40F proved unsatisfactory.

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Very early Conrail merger. No blue paint.

 

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The only misstep in my opinion. The title of the two volumes. I was expecting the likes of Starucca Viaduct. After some research. Whistler’s Arches were flood damaged. Abandoned. That’s it?

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Whistler’s Western – The Boston & Albany.

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A traditional approach has been used to present, The Boston and Albany Railroad. Say what you will about traditional. One truth is. Traditional becomes tradition, because it works!

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A&R has covered all the bases. Done their homework. Organized it all in a clear and concise presentation. Kept it nicely paced. Interesting history and brought current.

That is easier said, than done.

Excellent work!

Rating: 5 Stars

 

 

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New York, New Haven & Hartford Volume 2

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Producer: A&R

Timeframe: 1940/50s

Locations: CT

Length: 90 min.

Sources: Paul Wales, Gary Gurske

An grab- bag assortment of: train rides, cab rides, caboose ride and trainwatching. Also, a radio slideshow interview, with a radio chatter insert, that doesn’t belong. Limited, good bonus section of a little; B&A, CN,CV, plus NYC. Late 1940s into 1950s.

 

The vintage mixture of films. Mostly color. Overall good, but variable condition. An early black and white train ride, has so much camera bounce, as to be unwatchable. Other various rides are better quality. Locomotive cab rides are even, much smoother.

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Unrestored films, as we generally see from A&R. The slides are excellent quality. Yet, this should be a video.

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Audio is ranging from silent, to ambient sound. Sound levels get loud at times. Somewhat unbalanced, to be critical. Although, those steam engines do get attention. The radio interview audio plays at a lower volume. That is harder to understand.

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The show is narrated by Aaron Gonthier. Information also varies. Maps are used earlier in the show. No Chapter Menu.

vlcsnap-2019-02-27-21h24m01s426Steam to diesel transition era. Keeps this main portion unpredictable. Really interesting. Never know what is next.

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Crossing guard shanty.

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This man liked to film wrecks. Steam cranes at work, on multiple sites. Watch this Alco FA get pulled up from it’s side. An extensive look at this wreck in particular.

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A cornucopia of action. Fan trips dating back to the 1950s.

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Classic Alco RS led local freight.

 

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Cab rides galore! RDC cars are present too.

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Super rare New York Ontario & Western FT. Parked at an engine facility.

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Plenty of steam engines. New Haven fans will be satisfied.

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Let’s look at this odd inclusion. The old timer taped on the radio! Mr. Healey retired from the New Haven. A radio interview, is included with him. This is accompanied by a slideshow. No slides shown in this review.

Healey held multiple craft positions in the steam era. Dispatcher to fireman. More info, with his father serving 54 years, as well. Interesting background and insight to railroad service life.

Although, I do not know believe there is much replay value on this interview. Plus the lower sound quality.

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Another strange inclusion. Random train radio chatter. The way this is inserted is a distraction! Maybe little children would enjoy this. Not good. Drags it down!

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The interview declines into a never neverland of who knows what. This radio chatter randomness, is a genuine turn-off. I had to suffer through this crap for a complete review! For kids. Who cares… Edit..edit..edit.. Back to the interview?

Plays like nonsense…

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A Penn Central era scene appears.

 

Bonus footage. Central Vermont steam. Silent with narration. Willamatic. Candian National FM C liners. Notice how the silent passages win any argument for having sound. Looks great, boring!

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All of a sudden. Sound returns. Vintage New York Central. Last run of a Niagara. Some Boston and Albany shots. Plus…wait for it….

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Boston and Maine! Steam and diesel. Now we are cooking. If for just a few minutes.

New York, New Haven & Hartford Volume 2.

This show has some bright spots. Rarities. It has some other odd sections, which drag it down. Lame production decisions, are the main problem. Dump the radio interview. Delete the radio chatter. Insert sound, versus the dumb silent reel sequences. Voila!

Oh wait. That is not what we have. It is this flawed release. Listen kid. You could have been a contender! Hardcore fans only.

Rating: 2 1/2  Stars

Whistler’s Western Volume 2- Penn Central

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Producer: Steve Bransfield & Phil Johnson

Timeframe: 1970s

Locations: Post Rd. NY to N. Grafton, MA

Length: 54 minutes

Source: Bruce Malone

The Boston & Albany, in Penn Central black. Whistler’s Western? Are you serious? Nonsense! Who cares. Just another route, to the Penn Central. Ignore the goofy title. If you enjoy the black diesels and a green caboose. Hop aboard!

Filmed in full color. Unrestored, but looks fine. Balanced presentation. Nothing weird. Just do not expect modern, crystal clarity.

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Imagery ranges around very good overall. Variable, with the sometimes grainy and murky backgrounds. Can be focus issues.

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Audio is dubbed. Some scenes work better than others. Levels are even.

No Chapter Menu is included.

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Ted Daluku is the reliable narrator. Clear and professional. Fine job!

In the above scene. Action at Chester. Check all that power. Power balance move.

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A good script. This time, a little thin on some details. They mention to assume, the viewer has digested the information from the first volume. (3263 is a GP40)

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A rudimentary map early on. Once, and a minimal effort. Location references are verbal throughout.

Starting point is Western end of the B&A line. It is at Post Road Crossing , New York.

Never heard of that place. Alright then…We are moving Eastbound, most of the time.

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This volume is focused on trainwatching. Nothing wrong with that. Pacing is the key.

An error or two in the script. Nearly all shows contain errors. If memory serves. This scene called for ,”An all GE lineup”. Not critical. In fact, if the viewer should yawn, fart or sip a beverage. They miss the mistake. Carry on!

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The action is tightly constructed. Quickly, moving from one train, onto the following one. Cinematography is excellent, by Bruce Malone!

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The Washington Cut. A deep rock cut, provides a different viewing angle. Looks like a GE U-33C in the lead.

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Penn Central freight trains roll by the camera in an endless supply.

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Big General Electrics share duties with EMD GP40 and GP38 units. PC # 2910 is a GE U33B.

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Amtrak Lake Shores Limited.

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Plenty of former New York Central cabooses, still service the line. Model railroaders will find a good supply of rolling stock.

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Interchange, with a Grand Trunk GP9, on the lead. Central Vermont train. Palmer location.

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An SW1500 also at Palmer. A branchline here. The transfer caboose was handy. Long platforms good for switching cars. They were used on many railroads. These were former New York Central. Some lasted into Conrail.

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Piggyback trains as they were called back in the day. A caboose on every one!

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Extra 8130 slows for orders. (FYI… 8130 is a GP38-2, your welcome)! Bruce Malone was a Penn Central employee.

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Train moves through the makeshift station. This is near the old Westfield Station.

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The Conductor grabs the flimsies. Maybe Bruce knew these guys. He is really close.

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Extra 6523 is shot from above, at Charleton. An Erie Lackawanna GE, is third in this lash-up.

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An easily recognizable caboose. Class N5C. A former Pennsylvania porthole window. These lasted into the Conrail years.

Sharp eyes, will find a little bit of: CR re-lettered cabooses and a boxcar. I could have shown them. Nah! You can hunt them. More fun that way.

Whistler’s Western Volume 2- Penn Central Black

This show does perform, with the constant parade of trains. Penn Central fans will enjoy it the most.

If it grabs you. You know. That’s the ticket.

Rating: 4 Stars

The Golden Twilight of Postwar Steam Vol.4

The Golden Twilight of Postwar Steam Vol.4 PostwarSteam_Pt4_DVD

Green Frog Productions

Length: 51 minutes

Time Period: 1940’s- 1950

Locations: Putnam/ Harlem NYC, NYO&W

Source: Frank W. Schlegel

MSRP: 29.98

A fascinating series continues in a 4th volume. Featuring the rare New York Central Putnam Division, from the late 1940’s. The NYC Harlem Division is also included in this show. It is Ten Wheeler heaven for those so inclined. Another co-star is the New York, Ontario & Western. NYO&W contains the ultra rare content.

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Frank Schlegel was the Cinematographer for this collection of films. He had good proficiency with a movie camera. Much of the footage is black and white. Some pieces are color. Quality ranges from fair, to a majority of very good. Nice composition skills. In fact, for the era, an excellent selection of viewpoints. Much more than a series of runbys. Viewers will: ride trains, front end shot scenes, rear facing and some panoramic  frames. Steam engines are the star. A handful of early diesels. Yet, there are plenty of people and structures.

east viewColor film comes later. This Ten Wheeler leads a passenger move, perhaps at East View.

Harlem Division is the mainline New York Central that we are accustomed to seeing.

What is the oldest bridge in New York City, that connects 2 boroughs? Hint, it is not the Brooklyn Bridge. See the picture below.

croton aqueductVariation is a hallmark of these films. An m.u. ride yields a terrific scene at High Bridge. Part of the old Croton Aqueduct. Completed in 1842, the system carried fresh water by gravity, over 40 miles to New York City. A walkway on the top connects the Bronx and Manhattan.

Professional production in all aspects. Full narration. Appropriate soundtrack with well balanced levels. Smooth editing and best possible picture from the old films. An extremely detailed chapter menu. Unique, is a motion map of the territory. Switchable on/off narration.

 

1238 bronx1The Bronx, New York. Even in the late 1940’s, the endless high rise apartments are imposing.

The New York Central Putnam Division no longer exists. In this program, the line gets a basic tour. Station stops and travel the trackage. A well written script is informative. The show is fast paced. A multitude of vintage scenes

mt hope1Mount Hope is a contrast to the big city. Believed to be the hometown of Mr. Schlegel. By the way, model railroaders can have a field day with the plethora of railroad structures. Check this walkover passenger bridge for example.

5456 j2 hudson putnam jctPutnam Junction appears to have been a busy facility. A J2 class Hudson trundles slowly. This 5456 was finishing it’s career on the Putnam Division.

safety bridge                                         Is this scene a time portal or what?

white plainsOver at White Plains. One never knew what power was going to show up next.

conductorAs much as railroading has changed, some jobs are timeless.

 

New York, Ontario & Western is a major rarity to see in operation. That it is a feature here, is worth the price of admission. There is even some color film too. Viewers will experience some traveling on the OW. Stations and other points of interest make this a singular trip in time to the long abandoned railroad. The ‘Old Woman’ was closed in 1957. You do the math.

405Custom streamlined by a famed designer, the 405 is a sharp looker.

455 youngs gap                    Mountain type 455, bears down with a freight at Young’s Gap.

cn tower ordersA tour of the line is great. Begins at New York Central Ferry at Manhattan. Our train stops as the conductor receives orders for operation on the NYO&W. CN tower is this location.

stationRiding the mostly single track OW line has a much different feel from the sophisticated New York Central. Even in the 40’s, this road seems to fit one of the nicknames- ‘old and weary’.

y2 mountain 1947                     A 1947 chartered excursion looks glorious in color.

ft setAs the timeline progresses, Electromotive FT diesels appear. This FT ABBA set looks stunning, compared to the all black locomotives of the steam days.

Always prefer to close a review with a caboose. In this case, 2 railroads call for a pair!

nw2 122As the end came in the diesel era for the NYO&W, It is fitting to close with a colorful scene with this NW2 switcher.

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New York Central was a cutting edge railroad in it’s prime. At the end of the day, the NYC crews were probably just as exhausted as their NYO&W counterparts. Yes, even on the Putnam Division.

The Golden Twilight of Postwar Steam Vol.4. Green Frog has produced an outstanding steam era trip back in time. A multitude of rarities make this a must have for railfans and model railroaders. Highly recommended to all train lovers.

Rating: 5 Stars

New York Central Odyssey Volume 2

New York Central Odyssey Volume 2

Green Frog Productions

Format: 2 DVD set

Length: 2 hours 45 minutes

Time Period: 1963- 1968

Locations: Detriot, Wayne Jct., Town Line Jct., Dearborn, Electric division, Syracuse division, Harmon,Toledo, Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor…

Source: Emery Gulash

MSRP: 39.95

New York Central was Emery’s favorite railroad. In this second volume of Green Frog’s Odyssey, we will complete the New York Central Odyssey, as seen through the lens of Emery Gulash. All of the film is 16mm color!

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Emery Gulash was one of the best railroad cinematographers of all-time. He had an unparallelled eye for great shots. The ability to travel far and wide. He has left a legacy of outstanding films for eternity. I call him one of the Original Masters of train videos.

In this set, notice the shots with the camera angle looking upwards, from the ground. This accentuates the size of the train cars and locomotives. He was using more viewpoints over the years. Some ground level tracks with high-line, bridge crossings have simultaneous trains. This set is action packed!

m497                                                    Pride of the Central. 1966.

delray twr                        A GP7 at  Del Ray Tower, crossing B&O tracks.

The 16mm films are all in color. They are from many different years and trips by Emery. I just love the way, that was once everyday, is captured so very well. He also films in all seasons and any kind of weather. Experienced fans will note that Emery does frequent his favorite locations.

mail trainEast of Ann Arbor, a long mail and express train races towards the camera.

For those who never have seen New York Central operating before Penn Central, this is a good way to get familiar with the Water Level Route. Both volumes of New York Central Odyssey are worthy programs to add to your collection.

Green Frog has done excellent production, with the proper care and presentation of these films. The picture is sharp. The colors are accurate and balanced.  Dubbed sound is convincing. The fine quality enhances the viewing pleasure.

toledoAudio contains trains matched to the locomotive builder. An Alco sounds correct, and so on. Emery had a collection of trackside recordings that he had also done. His and some others really pop out during the show.

Narration is the high standard that we expect from Bob Carrera, and this veteran production house. Descriptions are right on top of the action. Quite informative. Nice script!

There are a pair of DVD’s in this set. A detailed chapter menu divides by locations or month and year. Very helpful for navigating around this long playing feature film.

Disc One runs from 1963 into 1966. A few happenings..

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Show opens in 1963 at Town Line Jct. with Alco RS32’s. Lightning stripes adorn a GP7, as C&O GP30’s pass overhead, on a bridge. At Ypsilanti, E8A and E7B units in lightning stripes with a long mail/ express train. More at Town Line with lightning stripes.

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A wooden caboose can still be found on some freights. Stock car trains were getting outdated. Additional railroads found are: B&O, C&O, DT&I, D&TS, NKP and Wabash.

New York Central passenger trains are abundant. B&O Cincinnatian, once a week RDC, along with C&O action.

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Toledo and the Maumee River bridge is a hotspot. Many first generation diesels. Slow movements around the bridge let viewers get a good look at locos and freight cars. Some mail/ express and passenger trains. C&O checks in with E8 powered George Washington. Plenty of freights, a great chapter.

 

As a whole, there is a good balance of freight, mail and passenger trains. The interesting mix of locomotives is a highlight.

boxcarsViewing the assorted, vintage boxcars is a pleasure.

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The first DVD includes a nice supply of B&O / C&O action.

Disc Two contains 1966- 1968.

Electric Division that runs alongside the Hudson River has a chapter. Harmon yard was the end of electrified territory. The New York Central shops were located here. Twentieth Century Limited and Empire State Express are shown, exchanging diesel and electric motors.

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Wayne Jct. gives us a mecca of NYC freight trains. Moving at slow speeds, past the tower, there are the freight car views, that railfans want to see. Many types of diesels are on parade. Alco FA, FB, EMD F7A, F7B, F3A, GP9, GP20, E8, GP35, GE U boats and GP40 units are some. SW7 locos are a contrast to its’ bigger brothers. A few too many Wolverines, but liveable.

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Although built in LaGrange, IL., nothing says ‘Detroit’ like a black GP30. Most of the power appears in the later ‘cigar band’ scheme. That’s fine with me. Those lightning stripes were always, way before my time. The logo looks even better on the nose of F7 locomotives. Speaking of what looks good, the numerous Alco FA units are like cab units on steroids! Doubly so, when filmed tight to the track.

Trains are quite a far cry from the boring, unit concepts of today. The multitude of boxcars provide a cornucopia of classic roadnames. I’ll take a meat train over a unit grain anytime. Unenclosed auto rack trains, like ML12, with over 1500 automoblies are something else. They were moved in daylight, to discourage vandals.

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Mail trains with: REA cars, baggage and flexi-vans, are mixed with old Railway Post Office cars. These trains were once, priority service. New High- Cube boxcars for auto parts were all the rage in the mid-sixties. Many are shiny new.  Nearly, every freight has a jade green, bay window caboose to boot!

Passenger trains are present, in 1967, in quantity. They tend to be interspersed with the plethora of freights. There is a long passenger segment here, in 1967.

Epilogue as Penn Central, early 1968, post merger trains are seen. Mail trains now require a caboose. Other Pennsylvania practices and PRR locomotives, are incorporated onto ‘green team’ trains. Finally, Penn Central painted diesels are in the engine lash-ups.

caboose1This is one of the best Odyssey releases from Green Frog. Superb cinematography, smooth edits, fine audio are combined with an excellent narrative. There are numerous, striking first generation diesel lash-ups. Outstanding, is the attention given to those classic freight trains. A trainwatchers dream!

Rating: 5 Stars

American Train Video Reviews

New York Central Odyssey Volume 2

Green Frog Productions

Format: 2 DVD set

Length: 2 hours 45 minutes

Time Period: 1963- 1968

Locations: Detriot, Wayne Jct., Town Line Jct., Dearborn, Electric division, Syracuse division, Harmon,Toledo, Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor…

Source: Emery Gulash

MSRP: 39.95

New York Central was Emery’s favorite railroad. In this second volume of Green Frog’s Odyssey, we will complete the New York Central Odyssey, as seen through the lens of Emery Gulash. All of the film is 16mm color!

last day at mc

Emery Gulash was one of the best railroad cinematographers of all-time. He had an unparallelled eye for great shots. The ability to travel far and wide. He has left a legacy of outstanding films for eternity. I call him one of the Original Masters of train videos.

In this set, notice the shots with the camera angle looking upwards, from the ground. This accentuates the size of the train…

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