Pacific Electric and Los Angeles Railway

Pacific-Electric--Los-Angeles-Railway-DVD-D-148

Producer: Charles Smiley

Timeframe: 1940- 1963

Locations: Greater Los Angeles area

Length: 1 hour 53 minutes

Sources: Lloyd Salkeld, Ross Salkeld, Ed Minshall, Paul Lukens, Roy Gabriel

Charles Smiley Presents with a double feature. The two streetcar lines, that once served Los Angeles, and vicinity. Pacific Electric is the much larger of the two companies. Los Angeles Railway is the second company.

Both had extensive coverage in their territories. Originally construction, was before the common usage of automobiles and freeways. The commuters traveled in much different fashion.

vlcsnap-2019-10-15-17h19m50s821There is much color movie film, to document the cornucopia of various, equipment and lines. Which serve the area. Years of the restored color footage. They are from 1940 to 1963. Though the scope of the show, goes back earlier in time.

vlcsnap-2019-10-15-17h38m39s558This show is loaded with extras. A factory pressed DVD. Detailed Chapter Menu. A long preview section that runs for 20 minutes.

vlcsnap-2019-10-15-15h11m00s865Custom made Maps throughout. Any line that is discussed, gets highlighted.

vlcsnap-2019-10-15-17h30m27s957On-screen graphics that have all sorts of additional information. These details augment the on going discussions.

vlcsnap-2019-10-15-15h40m08s665Varied soundtrack. Notice the high level of detail on enviornmental scenes. Hear the auto traffic on some scenes? Hear the flanges squeel, as a trolley hits a turn? Background music elsewhere.

vlcsnap-2019-10-15-17h10m27s663Simply, too much to cover everything within, this fully loaded program. This collection of films must be rare. Let’s hit on some highlights…

IF you haven’t seen a Charles Smiley Presents yet. You are in for a treat! These are: part train video, part history lesson, extra information, at no extra charge! All neatly wrapped in a PBS style program. Charles Smiley narrates.

vlcsnap-2019-10-15-17h42m02s403Pacific Electric had about 1000 miles of trackage. Extended beyond Los Angeles. Long Beach, San Pedro, San Bernardino to name a few. Their large red cars were well known.

vlcsnap-2019-10-15-17h01m48s654Los Angeles Railway was Henry Huntington’s, from 1898. This also extended past the city limits, although not so far. Yellow and green colors.

vlcsnap-2019-10-15-15h47m50s348Later on, the so called, fruit salad colors came into usage.

vlcsnap-2019-10-15-16h53m17s104

The streetcar system predates the freeway system.

A small portion of the Oakland Key System is included, into this story. Another, El Paso, Texas to Mexico, as well!  Plus more. Learn the dispositions of various streetcars.

vlcsnap-2019-10-15-17h06m46s982Here , at Inglewood viewers get a sense of streetcars running in traffic. Check those two sets of rails.

vlcsnap-2019-10-15-16h57m28s620Later, the now numerous  cars in the downtown area, brought resentment towards the big streetcars.

vlcsnap-2019-10-15-17h51m27s014Watts Station is on the right.

vlcsnap-2019-10-15-17h41m05s627This Watts bound car, originated up on a substantial  elevated platform. 

Electric buses are even included!

vlcsnap-2019-10-15-18h11m31s623The 1938 PCC built cars offered riders many improvements. Charles explains types and improvements.

vlcsnap-2019-10-15-17h43m35s589Notice how massive the streetcar is compared to the bus.

vlcsnap-2019-10-15-18h12m22s287The old Sears building on the P line is gone. Resembles other vintage Sears, in other parts of the US.

vlcsnap-2019-10-15-17h08m35s605The diminutive white safety zones, in the middle of busy streets. These are almost a joke by modern standards.

vlcsnap-2019-10-15-17h18m24s601Here is a scene with potential for Model Railroaders. Have a trolley line that; dead ends, near a standard gauge track!

vlcsnap-2019-10-15-15h40m05s602The many onboard rides, give viewers the feel of streetcar transportation. Assorted lines and years. Fascinating material.

vlcsnap-2019-10-15-18h22m39s781Big Bertha tows a broken down car.

vlcsnap-2019-10-15-18h37m34s633A final fantrip with a couple of streetcars. A discontinued line, complete with rusty rails. Amazing!

vlcsnap-2019-10-15-17h28m58s333These trolley subjects offer a time machine visit into the past. One doesn’t have to be from Los Angeles to enjoy this either. Plenty of these scenes no longer exist.

vlcsnap-2019-10-15-17h19m24s278Vintage is vintage! Autos, trucks, pedestrians, businesses, and the chance to witness the changes. Fascinating material that you see in fine quality here. There is simply too much, to retain everything in a single viewing. That is good news. Rerun value. Suitable and interesting, for family viewing.

Rating: 5 Stars

The Canadian

The-Canadian-Streamliner-Sunday-River-Productions-DVD

Producer: Alva Morrison

Timeframe: 1960s

Locations: Montreal to Vancouver

Length: 47 minutes

Source: 2007 Remaster

Alva Morrison originally produced this film, with Sunday River Productions. Remastered and a re- edit by JMJ in 2007.

vlcsnap-2019-09-01-08h44m24s793The Canadian, is a Transcontinental passenger train on Canadian Pacific. This is the original incarnation. Vancouver to Montreal. Calgary, Medicine Hat, Lake Superior, Banff and Schreiber. Not the later Yellowhead version.

vlcsnap-2019-09-01-09h14m42s400Begins out West. On the waterfront,at Vancouver. A return from Montreal follows. That picks up Lake Superior.

vlcsnap-2019-09-01-09h04m24s477Traversing the best scenery of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Kicking Horse Pass, with it’s tunnel and grades. Scenic canyons and rivers. Quite a trip!

vlcsnap-2019-09-01-08h52m37s610Similar to a PBS style presentation. Nicholas Morant, with at least one photographs used for comparison, along with other vintage pictures. Good history is included in the narrative.

vlcsnap-2019-09-01-09h03m39s065Multiple viewpoints. Onboard the train. Externals, both near and far. Scenery is nicely incorporated.

vlcsnap-2019-09-01-08h47m29s713Soundtrack is music and train sounds. The train sounds are good. The musical interludes are very dated, to the 1960s. Oh well, not a deal breaker. Kicking Horse Pass.

vlcsnap-2019-09-01-09h24m40s949

Alva Morrison performs the narrative. He does a fine job. Very knowledgeable.

vlcsnap-2019-09-01-09h03m09s285CP Rail painted FP7A diesels are in charge of the train. Sometimes, GP 7/9 units assist.

vlcsnap-2019-09-01-09h12m06s123On-screen graphics help with locations.

vlcsnap-2019-09-01-09h26m06s361

Various views of the equipment.

vlcsnap-2019-09-01-09h18m18s043

A group of grain elevators, that show a part of Canada’s huge business.

vlcsnap-2019-09-01-08h42m44s027Some basic maps help out with geography. Higher detail on specific areas, as needed.

vlcsnap-2019-09-01-08h56m22s945

Riverfront running in deep valleys.

vlcsnap-2019-09-01-09h16m39s783

Famous location on Lake Superior, is Mink Tunnel.

vlcsnap-2019-09-01-08h54m23s562The program is very well put together. A bit long on several transitions. Well, that’s the reviewer talking. No big thing.

vlcsnap-2019-09-01-09h02m19s723Visual quality looks fine. Good colors. Kicking Horse Pass Tunnel.

vlcsnap-2019-09-01-09h22m39s722The Canadian is a fine show. It stays on target. Complete coverage, with a tight focus on the subject. Good pacing, it moves along quickly. Before long, it nears the end! Where did the time go?

Alva Morrison really knew how to produce interesting Railroad films. This is a good one. A fine show for all viewers.

Rating: 5 Stars

 

Extreme Trains: Circus Train

Extreme Trains- Circus Train

History Channel

Format: 2 DVD set

Length: 44 minutes. Single Episode

Time Period: 2008 and some vintage circus film.

Locations: Baltimore to Washington, Steamtown USA, Palmetto, Fl.

Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus

Episode From Extreme Trains- Season One

Host: Matt Bown

As a fan of both railroad and circus, this title does get my attention. Does the presentation mix the two subjects together well? Do we get the desired mix of circus animals and iron horse?

t1                                       A Ringling Brothers train is a long one at nearly 60 cars..

t2

spare tireMatt Bown is our energetic host. He’s a hands on, let me try that type of guy. In this episode we see Matt shovel both manure and coal. Wow Matt!

3Final performance night with the Ringling Brothers Circus at Baltimore.

5

trainmasterThese programs are packed with  behind the scenes action. The Trainmaster is  the man who is in charge, as far as this private train goes. The amount of work to prepare and move the circus is formidable. Time constraints add pressure to maintain the schedule. Maintenance and emergency repair tasks can be unexpected. Professionals , the Ringling crew gets it done.

 

upThe night loading includes horses and elephants being loaded. We find an elephant with a mind of its own.

A brief visit to Steamtown is the centerpiece of the historical aspect of the circus train.

This is a fun and informative program. There is quite a bit to see here. We are carrying some livestock. The Ringling Brothers are sidelined for a CSX freight. Decades ago, a circus train with animals would have had priority. Matt misses this point, so you readers are one up on him. Yes, livestock transportation had many rules and could rate higher than even passenger trains! Matt does a great job of telling the stories of circus trains and educating the audience about this one.

pie carWe get back underway and a hungry Matt visits the piecar. Check that tasty looking food.

Another sidebar visit shows the circus mechanics with old car shells that will be rebuilt for the train.

unload

offAs expected, we make it to DC. Now, we need to unload the train. Setup is a huge production.

pusherThis program is fast paced and balances history with the modern era.

walkThe Greatest Show On Earth parades down city streets… Love the elephant walk!

matt bEnjoyable program for all ages. One of the series best episodes.

Rating: 4 Stars

#Circus

Extreme Trains: Overnight Traveler

Overnight Traveler- Extreme Trains

History Channel

Format:  2 DVD set

 Length: 44 minutes

Locations for episode: Chicago to Seattle.

Source: Extreme Trains- Season One

Host: Matt Bown

Updated and illustrated review.

Here is a single episode from the series called, Extreme Trains. Matt Bown hosted various shows in this set on railroading. A good collection of programs that are fine for beginners. Additional information that sometimes, can keep veteran railfans interested as well.

This is the story of the Amtrak Empire Builder. The modern version of a former Great Northern, premier passenger train. Viewers will experience the trip from, Chicago to destination at Seattle.

215Comprehensive  look at the contemporary era Amtrak passenger train. Coverage that features: equipment, employees, and the journey.

chicago union station tower                                           Chicago Union Station tower view.

james hillA fast-moving and varied presentation.  Historical aspects and modern operation are both well researched. This is very informative and fascinating journey, over a classic train trip. Rich in history with some great scenic vistas! A sidetrip to Steamtown for good measure.

MonocoqueCompare the 4250 horsepower of a single Genesis, to the 1500 hp of a 1950’s EMD F7A.

Mono diagramMatt kicks off the show with a segment on the power for the Empire Builder. Two General Electric Genesis locomotives. The design is called a Monocoque. A single, lightweight shell that mounts to the chassis. The shell is akin to a load bearing aircraft fuselage. Check one of the diagrams shown.

loco pit matt eddieAt the Chicago Amtrak facility. Matt walks with an Inspector, underneath the eleven cars in the inspection pit. Safety is first and foremost. An overview of the preparation for the soon to be outbound train is complete.

conductorThe conductor is ready for an on time departure from Union Station in Chicago.

cabA cab ride contains a discussion on speed and safety features on the locomotive.

snowAnother fun sequence is Matt on a snowmobile, on the original (abandoned) Cascade Tunnel line. The early switchbacks are discussed with some more history of building the line.

cascade tunnelA feature on the 8 mile long Cascade Tunnel is a highlight.

lights

pan

A nicely done program. Good for the whole family. Quite different from the majority of standard train videos. Matt is a lively and hands on type of host. The many tasks that he tries do convey the hard work and care of Amtrak employees.

Rating: 4 Stars

The Hard Coal Roads: what went wrong

The Hard Coal Roads: what went wrongD143

Charles Smiley Presents

Format: Factory Pressed DVD

Length: 1 hour 40 minutes + 20 minutes previews

Time Period: 1970- 1976

Sources: Joseph Zook, Jack Kuiphoff, Will Whittaker.

MSRP: 28.50

Charles has the Eastern hard coal roads featured in the pre-Conrail era. This new program, contains a cornucopia of rare, and unreleased film. Featured railroads: Lehigh Valley, Reading, Jersey Central, Erie Lackawanna, Delaware and Hudson, plus Penn Central. There are also some connecting lines. Railfans will see an action packed show!

rs3Central Railroad of New Jersey. Red Baron paint scheme on an Alco RS3.

Much of the film has hard to find footage, in high quality. This collection surpasses anything that I have seen for the first three railroads. Face the facts, LV, RDG and CNJ are usually available in grainy, unrestored issues. They didn’t capture the attention of railfan cinematographers very much.

1919Riding a hard coal train in the year………….. 1919.

Hard coal… anyone?.. The answer is Anthracite coal… What went wrong?…Why are there nearly zero coal trains in this program?…. How does this lead into Conrail?….. Watch this show.

rdg5209Reading Lines had a unique, cab roof rain gutter over the cab windows. Number 5209 is a Century 424. It leans into a superelevated curve.

dh610Alco Centuries were part of the D&H Alco heavy roster. The lightning stripe livery, is a true classic. Number 610 is a C628. At 2750 horsepower, it was a powerful locomotive. One of three that still exist. This one survives at a museum in Mexico.

lv635Lehigh Valley C-628 in the stunning Snowbird scheme.

Alcophiles will love all of that builders diesels in use by these railroads. Plenty of Electromotive too.

pc tansboroCharles is also a talented model railroader. He has an eye for including scenes that are conducive to the hobby. Note all of the details in this scene. Structure, signals, rural crossing etc..

dh455

All six railroads benefit from Mr. Smiley’s extensive digital restoration. The colors are accurate. Images and the trains seem to jump off the screen.

cnjrsd5Jersey Central with a pair of Alco RSD-5 locomotives. Passenger trains are sometimes operating with leased power. Some unrepainted, second hand cars are surprising.

The audio levels are well balanced. The narrative and train sounds have even levels. There are various musical pieces interpolated throughout the show.

dh trackageAlways improving his products, check the updated maps. D&H with trackage rights.

bmAll CSP shows have nice surprises. A railroad that is hard to find, Boston & Maine.

elErie Lackawanna receives extensive coverage. All have their historical background described. Viewers will have an understanding of the regional big picture.

rdg map

dhgp

A meticulous producer. Location awareness is always a priority. Using: narration, text graphics and a fabulous array of maps to enhance the story.

pc4603 e33Penn Central electric operations are one facet of the vast railroad.

el tuxedo

A 20 minute preview section is included. Total time is 2 hours. Man, I like the looks of Northeast Rails. Conrail fans will find plenty in these previews.

lv neThe USRA Northeast caboose is all over the show! Visible on different roads, in assorted liveries. Watch for these gems.

The Hard Coal Roads: what went wrong. I have watched the program and heard the history. Any railfan or model railroader should find this an enjoyable sojourn on these fallen flags. Extremely interesting and has the rarity factor. In short, this exemplary show is a must have!

Rating: 5 Stars

#Railroad#Train#LehighValley#Reading#JerseyCentral#ErieLackawanna#DelawareAnd Hudson#AmericanTrainVideoReviews