Classic Steam of the ’20s to the ’40s


Producer: Green Frog

Timeframe: 1920s-1940s

Locations: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Chicago, Kansas City, more.

Length: 1 hour

Sources: Frank W. Schlegel, Vince Ryan, Jack Alexander

A smorgasbord of films. Spanning 4 decades. Some rare and not so rare, steam locomotives. A Collection of: black and white, plus a little color film. Eastern Railroads mainly. Everything is worthwhile.


See: Delaware and Hudson, New York Central, Lackawanna, Central of New Jersey and Frisco (above). Also, Pennsylvania  Erie, Wabash, Rahway Valley, B&O, and much more. Steam, Electric and several early diesels.


Frog DVD-R. Nothing extra. Plays straight through. The Milwaukee Road Hiawatha. Nice runby…in Milwaukee!

The show is narrated by Dan Chandler.  Script is good. Fine work on the dubbed trains.


Camerawork varies by source. As does the visual quality. Majority is fine. About what an experienced Railfan would expect, from a wide ranging assortment. Good on the big screen.


There is way too much to cover the whole show. Highlights of this fine program. New York Central, Empire Star Express. Two steam pushers on the rear. The show’s gem!


Reading Crusader at Dunellen, New Jersey.


Camelback is a strange looking steam engine. It hauls a fantrip out on to the Long Branch.


Turns around, the yard in Bay Head Jct. A joint CNJ and PRR. So, Pennsylvania power is there with K4s. Compare the access the people had, in those days. More PRR is seen, in their home state.


A 1936 fantrip over the former, Ulster and Delaware. This one required a double header with a pusher, and ran two sections!  The New York Central ten wheelers were added to the head end. Former U&D power. Depart Kingston.


Oneonta roundhouse on D&H was destination.


Check the size of the people against this Lackawanna locomotive.


Steam and Electric. New York Central. Harmon, NY.


The big surprise is at Pennsylvania’s Enola Yard. Before retarders were used, brakeman manually controlled the cars, from the hump. Dangerous work in the winter. Unbelievable by today’s safety!


The Alton. Street running! How rare is this?


Middletown and Union, has a face, only a mother could love. Come closer..


Venerable, Boston and Maine Mogul type.


Rock Island at St. Louis.


Erie passes with it’s train.


Indiana Railroad was a large, Electric Interurban. Ran streetcars and freight.


Delaware and Hudson Northern type. Plenty of D&H is within.


Springfield Terminal in it’s original incarnation. Take a trolley. Quite a difference, from later SD45s in grey paint!


A Lackawanna Milk Train, really harkens back to an earlier era.


A Chicago, Burlington and Quincy sits in a huge yard. Burlington Route, was a road that ran steam late, on the Colorado and Southern.


This is a cornucopia of steam era scenes. Here, the ice bunker reefers are loaded at the Chicago Stockyards. South Shore Electric cars to the right.

There are even bonus shots. City pan views (Philadelphia), street scenes, humoungous Chicago stockyards. A well thought-out production. Packs a bunch, into a fast moving one hour program.

Also available on the, Trains around New York and New Jersey – collection.


Closing caboose is a Wabash.

Green Frog has a must see show, for any fans of steam era Railroading. The black and white film, adds to the vintage feel. Fascinating and varied visit to the past.

Rating: 5 Stars

Railfanning Cajon and Tehachapi


Producer: Charles Smiley

Timeframe: 1970 – 1993

Locations: Cajon Pass, Tehachapi Pass, Colton, San Bernardino,

Length: 1 hour 38 minutes

Sources: Jon Davis and more

Cajon Pass  and Tehachapi Pass. They are featured in this new release, from Charles Smiley Presents. This program looks further, than just those two areas. A desirable era, the includes films from the 1970s.

The single DVD is a silver, factory pressed disc. Same facilities, as used by Hollywood.

A numbered Chapter Menu, is included. CSP always provides, highest quality, custom made maps. Frequently referenced, and appropriate close-ups. Preview section of additional CSP shows.


A multitude of on-screen graphics. Providing a variety of information. Sometimes, quite detailed which adds to the discussion.


Sample of one map. Palmdale is being targeted. Color coded trackage.

Three Class One Railroads are all co-stars.


Santa Fe


Southern Pacific


Union Pacific.


Additional roadnames, such as Burlington Northern. Run through power, with Chicago and North Western.


Audio has accurate to the locomotive sounds. Laid-back background music balanced the soundtrack.

Charles Smiley narrates. He his always, interesting and informative. Giving a wealth of knowledge, on these subjects.


Film quality is excellent, overall. Digital restoration has great color balance. Appears to be predominantly 8mm sourced. Camera work is highly competent. Clear views of trains. All seasons.


Cajon with snow. Amtrak passengers had a spectacular view!vlcsnap-2019-10-24-12h13m41s779Cajon Pass. There is a good amount of footage here. A welcome change from recent times! By this time, the Pinstripe Blue scheme has been replaced with the popular Warbonnet scheme.


Of course, Santa Fe and Southern Pacific have the rails. Kodachrome repaints are easily found on Santa Fe.


Colton has abundant trains. The yard leads and Colton Crossing. An SP Kodachrome.


Of note. Talk about a pig train! A rare scene, is this move of hogs.


Model Railroaders will be pleased. FYI- Charles has a fascinating Model Railroad. A plethora, of vintage freight and trailer on flatcars, roll by the camera. Eyeball, that blue L&N boxcar!

vlcsnap-2019-10-24-11h42m30s479Double – Diesels are a fine chapter. Electromotive gets the nod. DD40AX.  Built in 1969… Centennials.

vlcsnap-2019-10-24-15h27m21s404Static photographs augment the show. Earlier, DD35 units are also shown, on movie footage. 

Learn the background of the Double Diesels. The UP goals, and implementation.


General Electric Turbines get looked at, as well. How did these Big Blows, relate to the later EMD units that followed? Answers within the show.


Tehachapi Pass is well done. Different Cinematographers, with fine views on the scenes.


Tunnels, in particular are a fine assortment.


Good overview of Tehachapi area.


Railfanning Cajon and Tehachapi. Comprehensive coverage of two, world famous locations. Additional areas simply add to this enjoyable show! The three featured railroads are classics.

This Charles Smiley Presents, checks all the boxes. What’s not to like?

Rating: 5 Stars



Denver & Rio Grande Western


Producer: Pentrex

Timeframe: 1986

Locations: Denver, Royal Gorge, Moffat Tunnel, Tennessee Pass, Winter Park,…

Length: 1 hour 52 minutes

Rio Grande’s entire mainline, is covered from, Denver to Salt Lake City. The year of 1986 had, many solid DRGW lash-ups. Some of the best scenery in the United States, is on this railroad.

All of the major locations are visited. Moffat Tunnel. Climb to the summit of Tennessee Pass. Ski Train at Winter Park. A bonus Cab ride through the beautiful Royal Gorge. This program is jam packed, with a non- stop tour across this historic line.

vlcsnap-2019-10-03-15h23m24s548A detailed Chapter Menu, allows convenient navigation over the single DVD. No on screen graphics. Basic maps for the straightforward line routes. On/ Off narration.

vlcsnap-2019-10-03-14h09m07s182View from Rio Grande tracks, in Royal Gorge.

vlcsnap-2019-10-03-15h05m14s938David Drui, with his smooth and professional narration. Classic Pentrex, with high quality in all departments. 

vlcsnap-2019-10-03-14h08m45s072Action at six mile long, Moffat Tunnel.

vlcsnap-2019-10-03-14h29m09s600Viewing a Rio Grande diesel that is this clean, is rare!

vlcsnap-2019-10-03-14h13m07s456Model Railroaders. Quick quiz. How do you justify double the locomotives on a regular California Zephyr?… Answer… Add some private varnish on the rear!

Quite a few Amtrak views in this show.

vlcsnap-2019-10-03-14h38m13s876Excitement as we are transported into multiple views from, a cab.

vlcsnap-2019-10-03-14h45m20s607Another Cab ride. This time, in Gore Canyon

vlcsnap-2019-10-03-14h48m03s191In the hole we go.. Meeting a Coal Train.

vlcsnap-2019-10-03-15h40m46s695Checkout those Missouri Pacific units in Canary paint.

vlcsnap-2019-10-03-15h06m21s654Red rocks provide a scenic backdrop. Spectacular scenery throughout this program. Cameras have viewpoints both, near and far. A sense of scale, will be communicated to the viewer.

vlcsnap-2019-10-03-15h12m48s269Glenwood Springs has always been a popular tourist destination. Scenery is highlighted, along with the station.

vlcsnap-2019-10-03-15h20m03s353Minturn Yard is a busy place. Here, a meet. Just a fast look here.

vlcsnap-2019-10-03-15h52m57s972The Joint Line has been the subject of it’s own shows. A brief visit in this program. Burlington Northern and Santa Fe shared this trackage with Rio Grande.

vlcsnap-2019-10-03-16h06m01s862Ski Train has a Chapter. Denver to Winter Park.

vlcsnap-2019-10-03-15h33m14s117Tennessee Pass at over 10,000 feet. Power is largely SD40T-2 locomotives. The newer SD50 class are out in force. GP40 engines round out most of the DRGW units. Perhaps, older locos were in less critical service. 


Besides Cotton Belt and Southern Pacific. Burlington Northern run throughs will frequent the lash-ups.

vlcsnap-2019-10-03-18h03m25s451An add-on Bonus coverage feature. A 23 minute Cab Ride. A GP40 pair with a local. Tours Royal Gorge Canyon! November, 5 1986. Other trains are encountered. Awesome!

vlcsnap-2019-10-03-15h35m34s174One of the very few cabooses that appear. Was tough to find this one, with a clear view. Doesn’t meet advertised. Promised many cabooses. A few is the reality. Not a deal breaker.

Denver and Rio Grande Western. An excellent visual overview. Seemingly endless viewpoints.  Narrative is an early Pentrex. Lightweight on details. They make up for it with later releases, that cover the same territory.

This show has great mainline coverage of a pre-merger Rio Grande. They did a fine job of filming the railroad. A show that fans will want to rewatch multiple times.

Rating: 5 Stars


Tehachapi ’88



Producer: WB Video

Timeframe: 1988

Locations: Mohave to Bakersfield

Length: 3 1/2 hours

Source: Bill Brown

Tehachapi Loop is the feature in this 2 DVD set. Southern Pacific owned the track. Santa Fe ran via trackage rights. WB Video shot video for ten days in the fall of 1988.

Let’s take a look at specifics. No Chapter Menu. No maps. No extras.. Narration.


The script and accompanying narrative are basic. Overall, natural audio becomes dominate. Good levels.


First disc covers five days and the runtime is two hours. Disc two, obviously gets the balance.


Kodachrome units are all over the place in 1988. Beautifully shot, and color balance retains it’s fine character.


Many trains have a caboose.


Oil can trains are common here.


EMD GP60 models were some of the newest locomotives.


Even older locomotives were repainted. This GP35 for example.


The show is organized by the day of the shoot. Not in a location order.


Exterior view of the Hill.


The classic shot. Famous Tehachapi Loop. Tunnel with a train, crossing over itself.


SP Kodachrome SD40T-2 in the lash-up. When the merger was not approved as expected. The Railfan slogan for the SPSF became, Shouldn’t Paint So Fast.


Three Santa Fe repaints, upfront on this ten unit set.

vlcsnap-2019-08-21-14h42m28s662Upgrade near Tunnel 9.

vlcsnap-2019-08-21-13h33m43s784At Cliff ,smoke pours out.


Helpers get the worst of it!


As Union Pacific fans ask, Where’s mine?


An awesome view from Cliff Siding.


Southern Pacific work train, with a single locomotive.


Meanwhile, down around Mohave.


Traffic is largely TOFC. Some COFC too. General freight, oil and coal trains.


The lengthy set is an excellent visit to a specific point in Tehachapi Pass history. While it may run long, chasing some trains. They hit the nail on the head. Recording an interesting Kodachrome Southern Pacific and Santa Fe.


Recommended for any Railfans and Model Railroaders with aligned interests. The sparse narrative will probably leave less serious types wondering, what the excitement is about. Nevermind them, if it has your name, you will know it.

Receives a high rating, on the strength of being, well filmed and the matching audio. Plus, the historical value of this clear show.

Rating: 5 Stars






Tehachapi Pass – Santa Fe – Southern Pacific


Producer: WB Video

Timeframe: 1984- 86

Locations: Tehachapi Pass, Mohave

Length: 56+ 54 minutes

A two disc set. Santa Fe and Southern Pacific. Filmed in the 1980s. The caboose was still in use on every train. Kodachrome paint was appearing. SP4449 in Daylight colors pulls a special.

No Chapter Menu. No maps or graphics. Seems to be the old VHS show, transferred to DVD format.

An active distortion bar is present on the bottom of the screen. This is throughout the entire pair of shows.

A smaller bar of distortion is vertical, as well. Left side of screen. Full length. Half the width and this one is inactive.

Each disc shall be reviewed separately.

Color balance is failing. Resulting in too many artificial looking scenes. The green grasses look overly bright. Glowing earth colors. Unnatural.

Do not expect pleasant viewing. Realistic expectations, not good to adequate.

Part One Santa Fe

The classic Santa Fe in blue and yellow. Some Kodachrome units are present. Cabooses are still common. Mid-train helpers. An enjoyable version of this great Railroad.

The Santa Fe, pacing sequence along the Mohave is great. It  does not follow this train over the loop. As it is advertised

Lightly narrated show. Live audio that sounds fine.

Original video crew did a great job.

However, time has not been kind to the master tape.


Numerous viewpoints, as in all Tehachapi videos. Far and near. As expected.


Shouldn’t Paint So Fast. That was one Railfan slogan.


Long lash-up of high horsepower units are needed to traverse the grades.


The traditional locomotives crossing over their own train scene.

vlcsnap-2019-05-05-14h12m10s583Colors looking artificial, on the bright side. Some scenes, such as this one.


Different angles that add interest.

vlcsnap-2019-05-05-14h28m38s045This train gets paced on lower elevation. It has some intermittent color issues .

vlcsnap-2019-05-05-14h00m23s414The once familiar red caboose.

Too bad about the condition. There are better shows.

Part Two Southern Pacific

A 1986 Southern Pacific. Some Kodachromes. Tank trains. A bonus with steam locomotive 4449 from a 1984 New Orleans World’s Fair.vlcsnap-2019-05-05-16h46m28s971SP in their dark grey paint.


SD40T-2 ,are Tunnel motors. Well suited for mountain railroading.


An extended, Snoot nose, would house extra radio equipment. 8341 is an SD40T-2.

vlcsnap-2019-05-05-16h47m36s299Mid train helpers are used by both Railroads.

vlcsnap-2019-05-05-16h26m16s378The shot everyone wants to see!

vlcsnap-2019-05-05-16h22m17s055Yes, Union Pacific power can be found here.

vlcsnap-2019-05-05-16h37m21s752A unit coal train meets, a helper set.

vlcsnap-2019-05-05-16h57m50s109A pair of diesels painted to match the passenger special. Note the color issues.


The once common Southern Pacific caboose.

This show appears to have seen better days. There are many choices, when it is about Tehachapi area. This WB Video two part set, is a rough one to watch overall.

Hardcore completist types only.

Rating: 2 Stars