Conrail Hot Spots West

Conrail West Cover.indd

Producer: Pentrex

Timeframe: 1996

Locations: Illinois, Indiana, Ohio

Length: 2 hours

Source: Pentrex

Hotspots are where high concentrations of trains can be viewed. Sometimes, a busy section of a mainline.

They are often, trackage crossings. Multiplying opportunities to see trains. Intersecting lines that offer increased variety.

It doesn’t take a mathematician, to realize the benefits for railfans at such locations!

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This show covers: Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Eighteen hotspots are visited.

All the screenshots are not exactly matched to the review progression. The realities of a coherent article and illustrative flow.

Pentrex in house productions maintain high standards of excellence. Everything done correctly. One of the few reliable producers. Frequently, a matter of the subject chosen. Quality is usually a given.

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The unburned fuel is putting on an awesome display, on this General Electric unit!

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Maps are in an abundant supply! Notice, how this enables a smooth flow to the procedings.

A professionally written script. Again, works to keep the program casually rolling along. Balanced with ambient sounds.

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David Drui is the ever present narrator. Broadcast grade announcer. On many of their older releases. That guy!

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Ashtabula, Ohio is the jumping off point. Notice there are additional tracks to provide access to the opposing rails. Just the beginning…

ATVR Bonus..Who pays for the Crossing trackage installation? A. Original Railroad. B. Newer Railroad.

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Answer. B. The newer line is responsible.

The northern Conrail line is featured first. Running compass, East to West. Let’s look at some on the Chicago line first.

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Toledo has a Vickers hot spot. Conrail has plenty of action here. CSX is a main crossover partner. Union Pacific, Chicago & North Western, Grand Trunk with CN and CV units all pass through.

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Indiana has Elkhart, with a CR freight yard. Jake’s Restaurant for railfans. A New York Central museum. Complete with a steam engine on display.

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South Bend offers up freight trains. Transporting cargo or empties, to the massive Chicago classification yards. Clearing Yard and Proviso Yard, for example.

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The above Chicago & North Western SD 40-2,Operation Lifesaver diesel, is doing that task. On it’s path to Proviso Yard, with a mixed freight.

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Hammond is the end of the Chicago line, for this hot spot West tour. Heavy traffic, as one would expect, just outside of Chicago.

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Pentrex has on screen designations for many of the trains. Narrator does explain the fairly simple codes. After a time, most viewers will be able to decipher many Conrail codes.

Amtrak shown, just for variety.

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Southern Conrail line next, for the remainder of the long program.

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Our eastbound return begins at St Elmo, Illinois. Conclusion will be in Alliance, Ohio. Many hot spots visited on the sojourn.

vlcsnap-2019-02-12-15h44m02s092Pentrex fact. An EMD wide cab is no wider than a standard cab. It is the nose!

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Effingham, features Illinois Central at the crossing. A well known spot for years. Nice passenger station there. active Amtrak stop, as well. The Illini is the Amtrak train.

This Union Pacific led train is actually another Conrail move. Looks can be deceiving in this modern era. One almost needs a scorecard to keep on top of the action. Pentrex takes care of it in this show.

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Haley Tower at Terre Haute, IN. An old railroad town. The towerman was busy this morning. Plenty of Conrail and CSX trains.

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Marion still must be the grandaddy of the Ohio hot spots! CSX and Norfolk Southern are still active here. The original tower and station, are still here. Yes, this place still has it going on. Although the tower is no longer in service.

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Quadruple diamonds. Action all the time. What’s not to like at Marion?

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Alliance, OH. is the final spot. Cleveland and Ft. Wayne lines are there.

Eighteen hot spots in this program. Pentrex had their favorite West. My pick would be Marion, Ohio. Although Elkhart ran a close second! What is your favorite Conrail West hot spot?

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Conrail Hot Spots West. End to end, trains filled by, big blue and more. A great Pentrex show. This is one of those, that you will be replaying.

A fun one with: assorted locales, views and of course, the many trains. Conrail Quality.

Rating: 5 Stars

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Santa Fe’s Seligman Sub

new-sealed-railroad-dvd-santa-fes-seligman-1

Producer: Bill Brown

Locations: Flagstaff, Winslow, Seligman, Kingman, Canyon Diablo, Ash Fork, AZ. Needles, CA.

Timeframe: 1989

Length: One Hour

Source: Dave Gross

Santa Fe across Northern Arizona. A secondary feature is the Peavine Line towards Phoenix. Plenty of scenic views which may surprise those unfamiliar with Arizona. It’s various terrain, vegetation and elevations.

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This is a pro shot video throughout. I have not witnessed a substandard frame in the whole program. Kudos to WB Video for the quality in this area!

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The one cavaet is that; this film has not been transferred to modern standards. In effect, everything looks a little soft on a modern screen. Too bad, as this dates the show.

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Audio is also, professional and smoothly done. Everything is well-balanced.

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Rege Cordic sounds like a seasoned veteran on the microphone.

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Script is thought out, as well. Sometimes it is very simplistic. Perhaps, the writer did not want to lose viewers in railroad technicalities. Being an old release. Fine for it’s era.

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The show does lack any maps. No chapter menu either. Not a huge loss on this particular program regarding maps. It pretty much travels East to West. The one deviation is the Southern line to Phoenix.

Does not travel all the way to Phoenix. Goes to around Williams. Maybe, it is still the Seligman Sub territory. Though not mentioned.

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Santa Fe had rebuilt much of their earlier power by this time. Viewers will see mainly second generation EMD units. Some General Electric, as well. New third generation diesels are beginning to appear.

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Freight trains are well into the standardization era. Less interesting than previous decades. Still, some box cars and general freight cars in service, sans graffiti. So, good times!

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Mainline traffic is predominantly intermodal. Piggybacks and containers.

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Pre-merger Kodachrome SF units are fairly common. The end of train device has nearly replaced the caboose.

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Beautiful Arizona scenery is a visual attraction for the Seligman Sub.

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The Peavine Line takes the Santa Fe southbound to Phoenix. As stated, this show does not go to the city.

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Santa Fe had attractive stations. This one at Kingman, Arizona.

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Our tour concludes in Needles, California. A former Harvey House that is now the location for a crew change point.

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As other ex: Harvey Houses are shown. There is some history provided. A little more information would have been welcome. Although this is easily obtained. Interesting to seek out, if you are unfamiliar with Harvey House!

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WB Video has a solid program in Santa Fe’s Seligman Sub. Chief concern, is the overall softness on a larger, modern sreen.

It is a well produced train video. Suitable for family viewing. Excellent for: Railfans, Model Railroaders and those interested in Arizona.

Santa Fe – All the Way!

Rating: 4 Stars

Goin’ To Kansas City

Goin’ To Kansas City cover

Pentrex

Length: 95 minutes

Time Period: 2000

Locations: Kansas

MSRP: 29.95

Ride along in the locomotive cab on a BNSF vehicle train. Pentrex has viewers inside a GE Dash 9 C44. Experience what it is like to travel across Southeastern Kansas. Board BNSF train V-OKCMCI at the crew change location in Arkansas City. The 225 mile route covers some of the Arkansas City Sub, complete Douglas Sub, and much of the Emporia Sub to Argentine Yard. See a plethora of trains from the ground as well.

Crew changeDetailed narration will have the viewer informed regarding the train movements. Sharp camerawork and pro audio gives a feeling of being there, with the BNSF crew.

lister                                    Engineer Kevin Lister gets us safely underway.

leboVeteran railfans likely have watched some cab rides before. This show is much more than a typical locomotive mounted in the cab routine. Ever changing viewpoints are the ticket.

rearview                                        Our vehicle train stretches out on a curve.

emporia                                      Basic maps are used to outline the areas traveled.

hougal                                                    Houston to Galesburg.

matfield green Matfield Green is the scenic area in the show. Hills and curving trackage are unexpected on a show from Kansas.

bazarA Phoenix to Willow Springs train creeps by on a long passing siding, at Bazar.

conductorConductor Brandon is the man in charge. Here, he communicates with the dispatcher.

z wspaltMeets are plentiful. Train Z- WSPALT is another of the many Willow Springs moves.

ottawa             Post merger BNSF has a variety of paint schemes on the locomotives.

all bnEmporia subdivision is very busy. This container freight is fronted by a now rare lash-up of solid Burlington Northern, Cascade Green power.

Goin’ to Kansas City is an outstanding show by Pentrex. It is highly recommended. Most railfans should find this program enjoyable. Older children might find it interesting. This is one of the best from Pentrex.

Rating: 5 Stars

Santa Fe Combo: Heartland/ Merger

Santa Fe Combo: Across the Heartland / Countdown to Mergerpentrex

Pentrex

Length: 2 hours and 49 minutes

Time Period: 1995

Locations: Chicago to Kansas City

MSRP: 29.95

Pentrex has a double feature with 2 full programs. Each show reviewed individually here.

Across the Heartland – Santa Fe’s Chillicothe Subdivision

Length: 84 minutes

Locations: Chicago to Ft. Madison, Iowa

Two weeks prior to the 1995 BNSF merger. Pentrex began to film Santa Fe from Corwith Yard to end of the subdivision. Follow the route from Chicago to Fort Madison, Iowa. A companion show with the Marceline sub, is included on this double feature.

chpxCorwith Yard and a tower visit to start the tour. A hotshot departs on former ICG trackage. Encounter additional railroads including: Amtrak, Conrail and Indiana Harbor Belt.

Special attention is given to each train designation. Symbol freights such as Q-trains and numbered priorities. Manifest freights, Amtrak and other train movemens. Very informative.

Featured locations. McCook, Willow Springs, Steator, Galesburg, Chillicothe, Edelstein Hill and more.

These 2 shows were filmed in September, 1995. They are essentially a two part series. Same characteristics and no need to duplicate here. See more details below.

geepsMany earlier diesels are still in use. By this time, they are rebuilds. That includes: GP9, GP20,GP30, GP35 and more. Superfleet red and silver locos are abundant.

miss bridgeCrossing the Mississippi River on this long bridge. This concludes this show.

 

Countdown to Merger – Santa Fe’s Marceline Subdivision

Length: 85 minutes

Locations: Fort Madison to Kansas City

Santa Fe Railway was filmed one week before the 1995 merger with Burlington Northern. Pentrex chose the remote Marceline subdivision. This lonely route is an uncommon location for railfan films of Santa Fe. The countdown is a week until merger day. The Pentrex crew documents the final week on this release.

214This was a good time to film Santa Fe. Superfleet locomotives are in full swing. Blue and Yellow warbonnets are still plentiful. Freight cars have not yet been ruined by graffiti punks. This is near the end of railroading that has anything interesting.

6410High quality is a hallmark of Pentrex. They are among the best in train videos. All the elements of an excellent show are present. Everything is thought out. They really ‘get it done’.

sfWhile the 1990’s were less interesting for watching trains. Santa Fe created a buzz with a revival of the classic red and silver warbonnet livery. Not since the days of the Super Chief and shiny F7 locomotives was this scheme prevalent. Of all the locomotive paint schemes, this one could be number 1 for all time. Rival Union Pacific, maybe the only real challenger (no pun intended). UP is still around!

main map                                Maps are useful. Basic reference points get it done.

Now, if the year isn’t that great for trainwatching. How do they maintain interest? The answer is a good, informative narrative. This makes dull TOFC, COFC, and unit trains bearable.

q nylaTraffic is identified, via graphics and narration. The announcer gives in depth detail of route and commodities. Every train assignment and function adds interest.

The weather deteriorates into rain and clouds. The show must go on. Seems like they hurry to finish.  We travel to Kansas City for conclusion. Goodbye Santa Fe. Welcome BNSF.

station

Henrietta Station. The Santa Fe logo in concrete. Some things remain the same.

Pentrex has done a nice job of documenting the final days of the Santa Fe. Viewers will see the line from Chicago to Kansas City. They make the most of the railroad scene of the time. The wide assortment of locomotives will satisfy railfans. Nice pair of programs.

Rating: 4 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.

grand canyonGrand Canyon

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