Railfanning with the Bednars Volume 6

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Producer: John Pechulis

Timeframe: 1976

Locations: Allentown, Horseshoe Curve area, more

Length: 63 minutes

Source: Bednar collection

See the dawn of Conrail in Pennsylvania. Bednar films and unique Pechulis film process, offer high quality viewing. Lehigh Valley was the home road for the Bednar family. They do venture out further on Penn Central rails.

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The Conrail merger had all roads equipment showing up at Mike’s yard! One never knew what might show up next. Extremely interesting time to be trackside.

vlcsnap-2019-09-05-09h02m47s363Mike’s personal LV favorite. The Alco 212.

vlcsnap-2019-09-05-09h00m42s392Mike said, that his Father was out filming all the time. Uncertain, if his Dad shot everything here. My guess is yes. In any case, excellent cinematography.

Penn Central GP30 units were some of the first new units to work Mike’s yard. Recollections like this, give firsthand insight into the transition to Conrail. Not to mention some rude telephone calls!

vlcsnap-2019-09-05-09h31m56s792Not only Lehigh Valley territory. The former, Penn Central is visited, around the Horseshoe Curve area. Middle Division and additional spots. Dead lines full of Baldwins and Alcos are shown.  Rockville Bridge is above. 

Informal style narrative by veteran Railroader Mike Bednar. His views are more akin to a running commentary. Knowing the people, remembering what transpired. A true insider’s perspective.

vlcsnap-2019-09-05-09h58m35s797The film restoration is amazing. Hard to discern this was sourced from Super 8mm. It looks sharp! Probably, the finest merger Conrail film around.

vlcsnap-2019-09-05-09h02m22s943Soundtrack also has live sound and filled with some background music. All of it is leveled nicely.

No maps are provided. No other extras. The program is a quick pace. It gets along without them. Although maps are always my preference.

vlcsnap-2019-09-05-09h53m22s889Early in the timeline, the merged locomotives have not been renumbered. Too much to included everything. A jam packed show. Let’s see some highlights.

vlcsnap-2019-09-05-09h08m51s210Mike’s yard was very busy, after the Conrail merger. Model Railroaders can have a field day, with all of the freight cars! Much of this Volume is centered at Allentown Yard.

vlcsnap-2019-09-05-09h22m02s044One has to appreciate Mike’s experience. The Ironton switcher was liked by everyone. Dependable and ran fine, right until Conrail scrapped it.

vlcsnap-2019-09-05-09h13m01s120A trio of Reading GP9 units are chased on a coal train. Rare assignment and fun.

vlcsnap-2019-09-05-09h14m31s616This scene seems to capture the mood around merger time on Lehigh Valley.

vlcsnap-2019-09-05-10h09m12s147The Canadian National GP40W. Mike Bednar climbs aboard to check it out. Conrail was getting power, anywhere possible. 

vlcsnap-2019-09-05-09h52m09s468Lehigh and Hudson River, received a high rating in the maintenance area.

vlcsnap-2019-09-05-09h13m41s419Erie Lackawanna units were all over the place. Many to see at Allentown.

vlcsnap-2019-09-05-09h56m11s176Jersey Central ‘Red Baron’ scheme locomotives, also show.

vlcsnap-2019-09-05-09h07m28s556Here is a revelation. Delaware and Hudson, originally used tape to renumber units! There are many assorted D&H units. Brand New and absorbed ones. Normal locomotives too.

vlcsnap-2019-09-05-09h26m10s140Action abounds, at and near Horseshoe Curve. The former Penn Central tracks were extremely busy, according to Mike. Practically, a film within the film. 

vlcsnap-2019-09-05-09h28m11s007A long lash-up descends. Note the old F units being used on the power short Conrail!

vlcsnap-2019-09-05-09h36m23s796Later, full on blue Conrail repaints began. First one about to roll by…

CR…aka ‘cockroach’ reletter jobs are also within. Just as ugly as ever. Cabooses as well. However, variety is the spice of life.

vlcsnap-2019-09-05-09h52m14s636A plethora of cabooses to see. Original paint and CR hasty renumbers. Fresh Conrail paint.

vlcsnap-2019-09-05-09h58m59s557Old Lehigh Valley, with their last innings to play, in old paint…

vlcsnap-2019-09-05-10h15m15s386Mike waves to Dad. A fitting place to end is here.

Anyone that is interested in Conrail merger. This is the show to have. Best quality, hands down. Entertaining and informative narration. A must have for Conrail fans.

Rating: 5 Stars

 

 

Michigan & Ohio Railroads in the Late 1970’s

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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

 

Conrail’s Beginning

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Producer: Clear Block

Timeframe:1976

Locations:East

Length:100 minutes

Source: Paul Geiger

In May, 1976 Paul Geiger took his 8mm movie camera to film Conrail. This is early in the merger. He visited many locations.

Another unrestored vintage, 8mm color film collection. The films are clean. Dark scenes too often. Nothing weird color wise. Good to very good, except for brightness issues. No maps or extras are included.

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The show does have natural sounding train audio. The sound is fine.

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Narrative is somewhat stiff in nature. Although, very busy and thorough. I see Paul Geiger narrates it himself.

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Too much to get everything here. Look at some highlights. Generally, everyday proceedings. In retrospect, this was a snapshot of 1976. See what is happening…

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Paul travels around Eastern points of Conrail. He will sometimes pan a scene. Mainly, this show is wall to wall action!

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Check this Conrail GG-1 at Enola Yard. Everyone was in, on the special celebration of the bi-centennial year.

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A grand Buffalo area tour. Bison Yard and Frontier Yard in Buffalo, NY. Tower visits. Buffalo Terminal. Historical aspects too. Amtrak E units are trading places here.

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Binghamton, NY. and the Delaware and Hudson. BD Tower. Binghamton station . Lackawanna Depot.

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As Paul travels around the new Conrail. He also films from a vehicle. Two for one shot. Kingsley Viaduct and a classic Texaco.

This one is for the Model Railroaders!

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Early merger units may display a renumber. As on this Erie Lackawanna.

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A cornucopia of trains! All kinds. Sans active steam. E-44 electric locomotives here.

 

A quick visit to Sayre,PA. and the Lehigh Valley.

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Coxton Yard. Lehigh Valley RS11 is working.

Allentown Yard at R Tower.

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RDC Bethlehem Reading line. Take a tour ride to Reading Terminal, in Philadelphia, PA.

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Lehigh and Hudson River visited. Very quiet. Nothing active at the moment.

Maybrook Yard is abandoned. Unused since 74 fire on Poughkeepsie bridge.

New York Central station. Penn Central FL9 Poughkeepsie. Hudson River line.

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Amtrak. Metro North, and New Haven. All crammed into the dense city areas.

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New Jersey Transit. Many GG-1 led trains are seen. Even in black Amtrak paint.

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Elizabethport, NJ. Central of New Jersey

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Reading PA receives an extended look.

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Reading fans will see a good supply.

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Pennsylvania Rockville bridge is very busy. Paul does a fine job of showing us this hot spot.

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A rare EMD electric demonstrator.

Altoona in the summer of 1976, is very busy.

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Horseshoe Curve. These three GP35 units, contain key components of the new Conrail.

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There is plenty of Penn Central freight moving through the Altoona vicinity.

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Fresh Conrail paint appears more frequently, as the summer of 1976 continues.

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Penn Central 6254 is an SD40. Compare with Conrail blue below.

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May of 1992. Video update with Penn. area.

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A solid composite, of the birth of Conrail. Consistent camera work. Good soundtrack. Well organized. Coverage includes quite a lot of territory.

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

 

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

 

 

Rail Trek Volume One: The East

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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