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

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Rail Trek Volume One: The East

Rail-Trek---The-East-1960s-1970s-Volume-1-DVD-RVQ-RT1

Producer: Ron McElrath

Timeframe: 1960s-70s

Locations: East-South

Length: 140 min

Sources: R. McElrath, W. Sasser

One of three Rail Trek volumes. Eastern version. Wide coverage over 20 railroads. Updated in 2017 by Revelation Video for DVD release.

The new DVD has film repairs listed as: cleanup on splices and edits. Original sources of 8mm and Super 8. These still show limitations. Good to fair picture quality. Green overcast on occasional scenes.

 

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A detailed Chapter Menu is a fine addition. This lengthly program needs this feature. Especially, as it spends too much time on certain subjects. Definite pacing issues.

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A new, update (on- screen graphic) is used to correct previous narration mistakes. Even a bit of additional information.

The show is in full color. Brief segments with some live audio. Mostly a musical background. Same as previous edition.

Fully narrated by Ron McElrath. Same as the VHS series. Above scene from Marion.

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Show is a mixture of lineside and passenger train ride films. Covers a huge range of territories! Waynesboro, if you have trouble reading.

There is more than a basic review can fully get through here. Overview with some of the important parts to know.

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The railroads in the Southern states are hard to find. These alone, make this worth consideration. L&N, C&O, Southern, Auto-Train. Ride upon and view trains. You just don’t find much of anything, in the South on a train DVD.

Good developments, later in this show.

Earlier on, it was dragging badly. Roads that I like too. Just revolving, around and around, on passenger trains.

*Breakdowns are boring. The audience doesn’t care. Stuck like a bug on flypaper. Cut it short! The show is dragging…

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Endlessly looking around on New York Central. Finally, get out of there.

 

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Look! A neighbor, called New Haven. A chilly trip. Out and back, on a branchline

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A huge commuter mover. More than just Jamaica Yard. Long Island Railroad. Receives maybe, a minute! Really? Ugh…

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Only to get fixated, upon the very attractive Delaware and Hudson Alco PA locomotives.  Move it along…

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Norfolk and Western. This one scene is the best looking. Kind of loses it at Kenova. Experiments with shots and most don’t work. Chesapeake and Ohio. He blows most of the shots here miserably…

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Louisville and Nashville. Excellent choice. Rides an oddly named Pan Am train.

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C&O. 2nd chance. Gets it right now!

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Southern. Look South. GP30 looks awesome with a high hood.

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Birmingham. Hot Spot deluxe. A manned swing gate. Frisco here. More trains are seen. Who knew about this? Gate open…

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Take another look… Gate closed. Excellent.

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Florida. Auto Train gets a glimpse. Florida East Coast with a caboose is included within.

Florida has much more.

Pittsburgh in 15 minutes.. A fine chapter!

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Obligatory Amtrak shot. Cooler than most, with Three Rivers stadium!

 

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Pittsburgh and Philadelphia had vibrant trolley systems too. McElrath shows quite an assortment in both cities. I only have space for one. You’ve been told about it.

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Still in Pittsburgh. B&O action all around.

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Pittsburgh & Lake Erie. A train ride there.

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ATVR bonus. The Orange C was a give to ‘Green team’. New York Central. Red P was supposedly Red team. PRR staff. Neither side was satisfied. Everything reverted back to all white lettering. The rare, Orange C sure looked better to me! At Marion.

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In Ohio, things really get moving along. Erie Lackawanna is plentiful.

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Detroit, Toledo & Ironton, shows up for a minute.

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Marion Hot Spot. The ultimate all time?

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Get your good Norfolk and Western here.

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Recent early 1980s steam inclusion. Needless here. Better quality, easily is obtainable elsewhere. Quit when you are ahead.

Matter of fact. All steam on this show doesn’t really fit. Including, the poorly filmed breakdown outing, in the cold. Drags it down. Time waster that should not be here.

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Now, Atlantic Coast Line is a caboose, one rarely sees in service. There are some hard to find ones, bringing up the rear.

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Rail Trek Volume 1 The East The 1960s- 70s.

This show sure gets around. Large amount of railroads. A supply of rarities. Overall, weak on film quality. Needs some additional editing, for time. Create a stronger presentation.  Nice updates on the VHS. You have: the good, the bad and the ugly. A mixed bag. Make your choice.

Rating: 2 1/2 Stars

 

Pocahontas Glory Volume One

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Producer: J.R. Herron

Locations: Kenova, Columbus,Portsmouth, Abingdon, VA.

Timeframe: 1950’s.

Length: 39 minutes + previews

Source: Ben T. Young Jr., CH Snyder, Howard Robins

Herron Rail offers an all color show of Norfolk and Western vintage steam. This was filmed in the 1950’s. Areas focused on are: Kenova, Columbus, and Portsmouth. A special segment following the Abingdon Branch is included later in the show.

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This is high quality film. Program was originally released in 1989. Although there are no maps. Narration by Ralph Morse, is descriptive. He sounds like a professional.  An earlier train video era, 1989 release. The age of VHS tape.vlcsnap-2018-12-29-01h10m33s570
Direct and detailed narration. There is a ‘slide-show’ section near the beginning. Various locomotives on the steam roster are covered.

Audio has musical background with narrative overlay. Environmental audio, with frequent narration is used. Brief scenes of train only audio, are interspersed throughout the program. Dubbed with great care seems to have been done. Maybe even some live.

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Script is thought out and well composed. Overall, an emphasis on sound balance. Good levels everywhere. Smoothly presented show!

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This is a quality program. Action galore! Steam power is nearly constant. Towards the end, early diesels do take over. Historically accurate.

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Of course, N&W steam power often are big locomotives!

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Yard scenes give trainwatchers the chance to see smaller, switch engines.
operate.

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The 600 class ‘J’ locos, were the premier passenger engines at the time.Being located in the heart of coal country. Norfolk and Western kept steam going late, as far as dieselization. This was a boon to those with film equipment. Yet, the roads did not make the areas easily accessible.

vlcsnap-2018-12-29-01h28m17s109Abingdon Branchline operated over 100 bridges. What a contrast to the heavy mainline , steam power .

vlcsnap-2018-12-30-07h49m13s878Steam on Norfolk and Western was filmed, right up until the fires were dropped, in the winter of 1958.

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The story concludes in chronological fashion. It appears to be EMD GP9 diesels for the closing chapters. Some are factory fresh!

vlcsnap-2018-12-29-01h20m35s329There are additional previews of upcoming Pocohontas volumes. Approximately ten minutes of run time.

This is the first Herron Rail Video reviewed on ATVR. Obviously, they care about issuing high quality product. Attention to detail, is evident in all areas of this production. Nicely done show!

vlcsnap-2018-12-29-01h03m02s866Pocahontas Glory Volume 1 does give a satisfying look at Norfolk and Western. This is a fine program, and suitable for family viewing.

Rating: 4 Stars

Pacing! 25 Years Along the High Iron

Pacing! 25 Years Along the High IronPacing-

Diverging Clear

Length: 3 1/2 Hours

Time Period: 1986- 2013

Locations: Illinois farmlands

Source: Dunn, Jensen, McPherson, Redmond

Producer: Mary McPherson

MSRP: 25.00

This new release by Diverging Clear should be subtitled: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. A 2 disc set. One is dedicated to 25 years of steam. The 2nd is 25 years of Diesel.

cn 5432Canadian National on former Illinois Central rails in 2013.

The show is action driven. Constant movement of the locomotives on the screen.

mpEach disc features 25 trains. There is a Chapter Menu. The volume level of the loading and menu portion is way too loud. It needs to balance with the program. The sound level will blow one put of the room.

sou 2638The Good: A nice assortment of Steam and Diesel. You would think the Steam would win a pacing show hands down. The drivers, the stack talk and the steam whistles are a formidable array. However, the Diesel portion is equally interesting. Theses are almost all rare. That is in the sense that the everyday operations of the late 1980’s and some 1990’s are not widely available in a pacing format.

4501Southern 4501 has one of the best whistles in the set. Great tone and it sounds ‘wet’.

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Most DCP shows do contain pacing sequences. Many of those presented are in the form of extended chase scenes.  Depending on individual taste, you can watch it or hit the ‘next’ button to skip ahead.

The Bad: Steam has some excessive wind noise. The type that has the potential to damage audio speakers.This is unfortunate. Skipped a few scenes that started out with loud pop and crackle noises. Having a raised volume is just plain fun with steam engines. Diesels is far better and the noise only occasionally is an issue.

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The Ugly: Diesels has those familiar old VHS cassette tape issues that are common. Work has been done to color correct. The source tapes can be a nasty challenge for anyone. Like many other train videos, the scarcity of the subject material can be the deciding factor.

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Steam is loaded with the usual performers from the time period. NW 611, UP 3985, NKP 765 and 567, Soo 1003 plus L&N 152 are some. Black Hills Central, Ohio Central, and Northern Pacific are the ones not beat do death everywhere.

261 2000Milwaukee Road has a few appearances. In 2000, the wind noise isn’t annoying or present.

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Frisco 1522 is too common on this show. Variety in the form of actual vintage whistles used. Kurt Jensen does the very minimal narrative. Good plan, the locomotives are well suited to task. Each scene displays informative graphics.

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Today’s technology should have rendered the wind noise inert. Just doesn’t belong on a year 2014 production. Various options could have improved the sound, including assorted substitutions.

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That being said, This program does offer the chance to see 50 trains being paced in one set. The diesel variety seems to have a great mix of period lash-ups. The Heritage Series parallels the roadnames on this set. A few exceptions at the end. Ohio Central F units and modern BNSF ‘whatever they are’ set to music.

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The producer has stated this release is a response to railfan requests. The bottom line for all viewers amounts to your choice. If you seek this footage- here it is. Can be adequate for pacing,as long as you consider it’s shortcomings. If you are hesitant to shell out. Similar and same action is available in many DCP programs.

Rating: 2 1/2 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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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