Goin’ To Kansas City

Goin’ To Kansas City cover


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Tehachapi: SP and Santa Fe era

Tehachapi: SP and Santa Fe era cvr

Charles Smiley Presents

Length: 2 hours 48 minutes + preview section

Time Period: 1960’s to 1990’s.

Locations: Caliente, Walong, Cajon Pass, Palmdale Cutoff, Barstow Yard, Taylor Yard, Bealville and much more..

Sources: T. Wegman, N. Rath, T. Jocelyn (Kodak film). J. Perry, G. Pagliaro (video)

MSRP: 28.50

Tehachapi Loop is one of the most famous railroad locations in the world. Rich in history, the area is a hotbed for; trains and railfan photographers. This show covers over 30 years. Southern Pacific and Santa Fe are the featured railroads. Charles often expands with a ‘above and beyond’ presentation style. While there are a variety of Tehachapi titles on the market, and some are well done. The uniqueness of a Charles Smiley offering is worth consideration- even if you have others. This new release could be definitive- let’s review.

gp30The shot that everyone wants to see. This train will reveal all Santa Fe GP30 locomotives in the lashup. This is where a train passes over itself, on the Tehachapi Loop.

ssw sd40tNotice the cleaner locomotives of the vintage SP. A Cotton Belt SD40T is on point.

f7sPassenger trains are included. Mail trains on the Santa Fe. Ride an SP move.

f45               The Santa Fe F45 is captured in warm looking, California daylight.

taylor yardTo use a single word for Taylor Yard circa 1978… crowded! Model railroaders will surely appreciate these scenes.

alco s                        There are plenty of Santa Fe pinstripe scheme diesels.

routesJudicious usage of his custom made maps can display, routes, elevations and trackage.

storeNaturally, the expected location names are here. Additionally, Cajon Pass, Taylor Yard. and San Bernardino are a sample of what else is visited. Some of these are featured at length.

palmdaleHistorical aspects are another cornerstone within CSP shows. See the 1967 Palmdale Cutoff. A freewheeling narrative that is highly detailed. Charles performs the narrative. This is non scripted, and contains a master class on railroads.

bw spSoundtrack has a large supply of natural and builder accurate locomotive sounds. Various musical backgrounds are another part of the audio. The narration is balanced with some non narrated  trainwatching.

gp60This program is a double feature. There is contemporary, 1990’s era Tehachapi. Vintage film has a great overview of Southern Pacific and Santa Fe operations in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

f7Viewers will enjoy 90 minutes of digitally restored and enhanced vintage Kodak color film. This feature alone, is worth the price of admission. A wide assortment of locomotives and views. This is frame by frame restoration. Charles has the goal of providing the best for viewers.

alcoHelpers are operating both mid-train and as pusher sets. The Alco units were demonstrators. Learn about SP and why some locomotives were pulled from the mainlines.

boxcars spSome nice scenes that display the freight cars of the time. Interesting, to compare the shades of boxcar red on this train.


sp u33c                    Santa Fe GE U36C locomotives and SP U33C class, are discussed.

smokeAs this Southern Pacific freight exits a long tunnel, the sooty exhaust billows from the hole.

spsfOil Can train with an SD40T-2, in SP Kodachrome repaint, as a mid-train helper.

90s sp

90sAfter the vintage centerpiece, we are returned to the 1990’s. Both of these eras are enjoyable.

sf cabWe have just skimmed through a show that exceeds 2 1/2 hours. There is much more to see.

sp cab                                               Tehachapi: SP and Santa Fe era

Charles Smiley has the definitive Tehachapi program here. Combining vintage and modern, this high quality production is an immediate classic. Railfans and model railroaders will find this new release a comprehensive overview of Tehachapi Loop, with surrounding areas. This great show is easily in the top of the Charles Smiley Presents catalog.

Rating: 5 Stars


Santa Fe: Bluebonnets and Kodachromes

Santa Fe: Bluebonnets and Kodachromes

Diverging Clear Productions

Format: DVD-R

Length: 1 hour 05 minutes

Time Period: 1988- 1989

Locations: Chillicothe, Edelstein Hill, Holliday Junction, Marceline.

Source: George Redmond , DCP archives

MSRP: 20.00

The newest Heritage Series continues with this show. It is about Santa Fe blue and yellow Warbonnets, operating with red, black and yellow Kodachrome painted diesels. A failed merger attempt with Southern Pacific had SF lettered units repainted on Santa Fe. The remaining SP lettering was never added. Cabooses are still in service on some trains. Amtrak cameos too. Kodachrome fans will be satisfied with the amount of those units seen.

Four locations in three states, are the setting for this show. There is much TOFC traffic. Mixed with general merchandise trains. Conrail diesels lead some freights, with their solid blue lashups.

A GP20 is on the point. Older diesels are sometimes intermingled with newer, six axle locomotives. The overall assortment keeps the show interesting.

GP35 units lead some trial roadrailer equipment. Note the two paint schemes.

                 An F45 and SD45 engines are charging through with a hot pig train.

As with other Heritage Series releases, George Redmond is the original videographer.

Producer Mary McPherson has been upgrading these productions. Some basic maps are a welcome addition to this program. Another map details the Holliday Jct. trackage. There is a chapter menu. Preview section as well.

Surprise! Some 1940’s footage around Argentine Yard adds a brief contrast to the modern era trains. Additional black and white photos are interspersed throughout. Results in some now and then perspectives. Nice.

Holliday Junction is the first location. Near Kansas City, there are numerous ATSF moves in the area.

Model railroaders can find assorted details about Santa Fe train consists.

Marceline was a crew change point. Plenty of action here. The old station provides a historic backdrop.

Edelstein Hill is another, busy location. Plenty of intermodal traffic.

Chillicothe is visited next. A crew change point and an Amtrak station.

Amtrak’s Southwest Chief slows for Chillicothe Station.

This program is a good looking one, for 1980’s VHS tape. The videotape appears cleaner then some other Heritage Series programs. Mary does a good narrative. Natural audio dominates the scenes. A few bits have too much wind banging the microphone. Majority sounds fine.

For the multitude of Santa Fe fans, this program is a good one to own. If you are new to Diverging Clear’s: The Heritage Series, here is one of the best they offer.

The 65 minutes contains a well paced show. A solid, amateur shot train video.

Here is the circa 1988 Santa Fe, just as you may remember.

Rating: 3 Stars