Pittsburgh Line Blues

PLCON-DVD

Producer: Pentrex

Timeframe: 1990s

Locations: Conway Yard, Conpit Jct, Altoona, Horseshoe Curve, Allegheny Tunnel…

Length: 90 minutes

A Farewell to Conrail. This subtitle describes a final tour of The Pittsburgh Line. Conway to Altoona. Late 1990’s. While still, under the Conrail flag.

David Drui with his usual pro class narrative. Pentrex high quality production.

A detailed Chapter Menu, will result in easy navigation.

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Conrail was in great shape here. Shiny paint. A solid, clean physical plant. No longer, the gritty struggling entity that occupied this same area, years ago.

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Although a highly scenic rail line. The Pentrex creative energy seemed lower. Yes, they get those hard to reach shots. No tower visits or that going the extra mile. No cab rides, for another example.

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Excellent work as far as, filming the trains.

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Reference maps are helpful. Everything is identified.

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Conway Yard is the beginning.

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Standardized traffic and a modern locomotive fleet. Conrail has become a successful railroad! At the same time, less variety and interest, trackside.

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Conpit Jct. has a striking background. Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian, is one of several Amtrak moves seen in this show.

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Conrail Business Train comes into view.

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An expected highlight. Horseshoe Curve, is disappointing. Overgrown foliage, masks the former panoramic views.

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Alto Tower has this unusual viewpoint by Pentrex. It is a light engine move.

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This Oak Island to Pittsburgh, freight interjects some run through power.

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Our narrator perks up! Almost a solid lash-up of GP38 engines, front and back. Hard times for the railfan…

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The videographers still come up with those difficult shots. This, a long telephoto.

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Allegheny Tunnel has been modernized.

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Updated power, that has the railroad looking forward to the future.

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A restored caboose above the Allegheny Tunnel, is the only one shown.

Pittsburgh Line Blues

Another well done Pentrex show. This one doesn’t scale the heights of their top releases. Part of it is, the less interesting time period. Part is the feel, of a paint by the numbers production.

Perhaps they were a little less enthusiastic by this time, as well. It is still a very good show. Not outstanding.

Rating: 4 Stars

 

 

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Street Running

STREET-DVD.jpg

Producer: Pentrex

Timeframe: 1990- 2000s

Locations: 22 USA

Length: 1 hour 44 minutes

Street running, is a highlight on most any train program. The image is a powerful one. Class ones to shortlines. Pentrex has this compilation, from nearly two dozen USA locations.

A detailed Chapter Menu provides easy access to the choice spots. Bonus Material consists of Pentrex previews. Audio has the selection of either: On/ Off. That is for narration.

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David Drui is our familiar narrator. Smooth as glass. Tight script. All production aspects, are the usual high quality of Pentrex.

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Of note, several locations were filmed without a train. Would have liked to have seen Fort Collins, Colorado. However, they do mention a few misses at the end, including that one.

So, it  is good that Pentrex went to their vaults. Created added interest to this program. Smart move. There is plenty to see.

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Everything is separated. Billboarded, if watching it through. Available by chapter, as well. This show is jam packed!

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Time to hit some highlights. Checkout some of the many viewpoints on tap. Let’s see what’s going on, in the streets…

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LaGrange, Kentucky. CSX line. There is frequently, a train per hour here.

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Augusta, Georgia. Norfolk Southern 9003. Trains through historical district.

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Erie, PA. Canadian Pacific. Unique nowadays,  are the Crossing guard shanties.

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Oakland California. Rare, double-track street. Amtrak, is an Amtrak West  operation. According to Pentrex. Freight action is also shown at ground level.

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Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad. York, Pennsylvania. Blink twice and you will miss, this former Santa Fe CF7 rebuild unit.

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New Albany, Indiana. Canadian Pacific AC4400. This freight on CSX, is using authority from former Soo Line. This is old Monon, to Louisville route trackage. Action!

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Albany, Georgia. Norfolk Southern 3177, on ex: Central of Georgia trackage. Long hood forward built locomotive.

Columbus, GA. Another no trains.

Frederick, Maryland. Track is disconnected. They probably had to account for the trip expenses. Hence, all the zero sum screenshots. Do notice how smoothly they integrate these shots. Marietta, Ohio is the best one!

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Watsonville, California. Observe how tight street operation can be for a train. A quartet of GP40s, haul a long consist.

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Santa Cruz SP 7138. Palm trees, beaches and the Pacific Ocean! What could be better?…  Retirement! 

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Brooklyn. New York Cross Harbor Railroad. Alco S2 power. The busy switch crew is followed by the Pentrex camera. Bush Terminal vicinity. Succinct and satisifying.

Utica, NY. none. Hudson, NY. No trains.

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Chicago, Ill.  Goose Island. Soo Line, circa 1990. Check the ex: Milwaukee Road switcher, in a ‘bandit’ paint job. Have seen this footage before. So what! This fine segment fits perfectly. Tells the story. Just like, so many Charles Smiley Presents. A smart recycle. No worries!

vlcsnap-2019-04-01-10h27m32s305In the almost, but no cigar category. Amtrak Auto Train on ex: RF&P  at Ashland, Virginia. This on ballasted track, center of street. 

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San Antonio, Texas. Pearl Brewing. An electric motor connects, with Union Pacific. Texas Transportation Company.

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Chicago South Shore and South Bend. Action in Michigan City, Indiana. Electric interurban, which were born in the streets. Think about it. They should have filmed a South Shore freight train.

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Middleton, Pennsylvania. One of the last two Alco locomotives built. T6 diesel.

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Stockton, CA. Central California Traction. Not all operations filmed are daylight ones. Note the safety flare.

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St Mary’s, West Virginia. A CSX coal train, rolls by a Food Giant. Town population 2200. Took some dedication for the guys to get a daytime train.

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West Brownsville PA. is very busy for Norfolk Southern on a ex: Conrail line. Yes, this busy stretch has NS coal moves. Monongahela from the archives is better!

vlcsnap-2019-04-01-11h12m30s770Elizabeth, PA. Watch these new Electromotive built locomotives. These are former P&LE tracks. SD70MAC engines.

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Modesto, CA. Railfans choice. Former Tidewater Southern. Western Pacific. Old Mill Cafe. Ninth Street. All important to knowledgeable fans.

It is under the umbrella of Union Pacific now. The GP40 leads and obeys traffic lights. I enjoy the ,”Conductor lends a pair of eyes” about watching traffic. Look at it!

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Look at the butthead following so close! No brake lights on the coal train. Not much brain power in the car. Think about it…

Street Running

An enjoyable show. Videography is top shelf. Excellent narrative. Fine sounding audio. The brevity of each chapter, keeps the pace moving quickly. Good rerun value.

Speaking to the Pentrex comment about living next to Railroad tracks. Ever live it? Noisy, vibrates your home, and dust from those passing trains. Airhorns that blow, 24/ 7. Louder in winter too! Novelty wears off.

This program is great for everyone to see. Interesting to watch these trains. A good time for: Railfans Model Railroaders, and the whole family.

Rating: 5 Stars

The Pennsylvania Collection combo

PENNSY-DVD

Producer: Pentrex

Timeframe: 1850- 1960s

Locations: system

Length: 2 hours 9 minutes

Sources: Bill Warrick (The Standard Railroad…) The Pennsylvania RR (Collection)

These two shows were originally Interurban Press productions. Combined for a DVD release by Pentrex. This is on a single factory pressed disc.

This review will look at each program individually. A combined rating upon the conclusion.

A Chapter Menu with the two shows and previews. Sub divided into a detailed Chapter Menu per show.

The Standard Railroad of the World

Locations: Altoona Shops, Penn Station, Enola Yard, Bay Jct., Broad St. Station, Strasbourg RR,

Length: 59 minutes

The Company line states that a Bill Warrick spent years putting this show together. He covers; Steam, Diesel and Traction. Major locations of interest. A major snowstorm in 1958. Comprehensive coverage in under an hour.

Films are in mostly black and white. There is a large amount of color, as well.

Narrated and dubbed soundtrack with train audio. Matter of fact, classroom delivery. PBS style going back to 1830 historical.

vlcsnap-2019-03-31-11h27m37s186Lincoln’s funeral train. A still photographs. Warrick used multiple forms of media to do this show. 

vlcsnap-2019-03-31-11h30m23s063Horseshoe Curve is an obvious must have.

vlcsnap-2019-03-31-11h32m33s422Altoona shops constructed locomotives and tested them. They did much more.

The Johnstown flood is recounted.

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Penn station received a detailed visit.

vlcsnap-2019-03-31-11h37m14s683Long Island electric locomotive. A Pennsylvania owned subsidiary.

DT&I along with Henry Ford, are one of the interesting subjects discussed.

vlcsnap-2019-03-31-11h41m37s995Rockville Bridge. Looks fantastic in any era. 

Broad Street Station gets some attention.

Enola Yard is enormous. After viewing the Collection, certain sources will be obvious.

The Sandusky coal mining film. A silent reel with music, and old time words. Charming!

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Pennsylvania Marine operation at new York harbor.

Chicago Union Station is briefly visited.

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Notice the sidearms carried by the mail clerks.

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Steam classes are compared. K4.

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Mountain helpers.

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M1

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GG1 class are shown extensively.

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Electric trolley system was paralyzed in a 1958 snowstorm. This was in Washington DC.

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Not much in the way of a caboose to see. Here is one from a mini film.

The Pennsylvania Railroad Collection

Pennsylvania RR promotional films. They released their own programs. These often tooted how modern and safe the railroad was to travel or ship freight. All are black and white films.

Progress on the Rails.

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Railroad modernization is the 1st film. Demonstrates safety equipment. Automatic brake stop. There are more.

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Dragging equipment. Roadbed maintenance. Ballast cleaner train. Rail detector car.

Tunnel elimination. Rock cut at Stubenville, Ohio.

Ticket counter with new automation.

New locomotive  car and construction.

__________________________________

Wheels of Steel

GG1 show that is about 13 minutes long

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Hostler with maintenance in the morning.

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Track maintenance gangs and equipment.

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The train travels from Penn Station to Washington, DC. Cab Ride action.

______________________________________

Opening A New Frontier

This one is from 1955. Runs about 13 minutes.

This one begins in 1850. Stagecoach days. General Railroad background.

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Automobile and trucks. Roads are choked! Railroads can take trucks off the roads.

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Piggyback transport.  Truc Trains.

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A trailer move is followed from a Chicago origin. It gets a 2nd morning delivery in New York City. Pennsylvania Railroad piggyback service.

vlcsnap-2019-03-31-13h21m02s020This was early TOFC. A little different in execution. They demonstrate. Great little film for the time. Best of the lot.

_________________________________________

Clear Track Ahead!

1956 production.About 28 minutes.

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Again, goes back to a horse drawn wagon. How slow transport was to get someplace

This one plays like an early Lassie. A short drama at the start. No dog.

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Film is shaky. Expected better quality. This appears to have been used as the main film for others of this period.

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Transition to modern railroad innovations. Some scenes are recycled in another films. It does seem the complete version. The quality here is less. Enola Yard again.

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A T1 engine will pull a passenger train. You will ride this train. Jim is the friendly Engineer.

Segues into construction of locomotives and railroad cars. Altoona Shops again.

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Tower visits include fascinating Electrified Territory. Just a bit different for Electric.

___________________________________________

The Standard Railroad of the World.

A well thought out documentary. Delivered in a PBS style presentation. Many forms of multimedia are employed to present a historical show on Pennsylvania Railroad. The better of the two programs here.

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The Pennsylvania Railroad Collection

A compilation of vintage Pennsylvania films. These are better than average for the decade. Many others are overly dramatic and corny to watch now.

The major concern is the lower quality of the longest running main film. Clear Track Ahead! One would think that Pentrex would have sourced a nice copy. Bummer!

An interesting set overall. Good historical overview. A deduction, for the one shaky film inclusion. Dissappointing, for a high caliber Company, like Pentrex.

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

Pittsburgh Mainlines

PBMAIN-DVD

Producer: Pentrex

Timeframe: 1999

Locations: Pittsburgh area

Length: 2 hours 16 minutes

Tour the Steel City with: Conrail, CSX, Union Railroad and Amtrak. This is prior to Norfolk Southern. There is a surprising amount of rail action, in Pittsburgh. Memorable settings for the trains, as well.

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A detailed Chapter Menu displays many locations. Conway Yard, Rochester, P&LE Main and Turtle Creek Valley being several.

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Comprehensive coverage of the Pittsburgh metro area. Historical aspects pay tribute to the rich industrial foundation of this city.

Dave Drui with his smooth, pro narration. Balanced, ambient audio soundtrack.

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Conrail does run a herd of trains through this fascinating trackage.

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CSX is on former B&O lines. Plenty of CSX with road and local moves. Bonus, the locals still require a caboose!

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Union Railroad may be unfamiliar. It is the business. Coke, and steel related plant trains are abundant within it’s domain.

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Some complicated trackage is explained with many Pentrex custom maps. Frequently referenced and needed by viewers.

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Scenic vistas abound, as Pennsylvania landscapes are always nearby.

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Port Perry is a stunning location!

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There are still some operational Steel plants. Pentrex visits.

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On-screen graphics with additional information.

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A Model Railroaders paradise, as well. Some scenes ; have more tracks and trains, than a Christmas Lionel dream layout!

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Amtrak has several trains.

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Impressive bridges are a Cornerstone. All of those rivers and valleys must be crossed.

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Tunnels are plentiful. All, a little different.

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Here, coal hoppers are spotted with a tiny switcher. An unusual operation. Singular!

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Here is a glimpse of vintage film. Pentrex certainly sent the extra mile. On more than one occasion, showing historical footage.

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Comparison to the current Pittsburgh.

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CSX- Allegheny Crossing is impessive. Just when you think the old Pennsylvania Railroad bridges rule. Along comes a: B&O or Pittsburgh & Lake Erie construction.

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OK. Who wanted Bessemer & Lake Erie?… Me too! A couple of SD7 engines. Nice pair.

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A former, Chessie System locomotive pokes it’s face out of a tunnel. Even more, than can be reasonably included within the scope of this review. There is plenty to be relished. A packed program.

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One of the last operating Interlocking Towers gets a visit. See the inside…

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Union Railroad has a caboose on every train. Good coverage on this road.

Pittsburgh Mainlines.

One of the top Pentrex shows, with late 1990s railroads. Different mixture of trains, in a variety of settings. Expert videography and production. Historical aspects that are, woven into the program. A great choice for anyone with an interest in trains!

Rating: 5 Stars

 

Conrail’s Beginning

Conrails-Beginning-A-Look-at-the-Eastern-Half-DVD-CRB

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