The Stormy


Producer: Pentrex

Locations: Tucson to Lordsburg

Timeframe: 1995

Length: 90 minutes

Southern Pacific’s Lordsburg District. Filmed in the spring of 1995. Last of the semaphore signal usage there. Some double track installation, along with signal upgrades.

This was a power short SP. Leased units abound. No cabooses. Not much excitement in general here. Double stacks and more double stacks…


Pentrex has a quality show. Excellent presentation. Detailed Chapter Menu. Full narration. Plenty of graphic extras.


The show begins at the SP yard in Tucson, Arizona. It will proceed East until the conclusion at Lordsburg, New Mexico.

vlcsnap-2019-06-13-17h49m48s200SP dark grey paint is what you get.


Maps are used at the appropriate times.


The last of the vintage semaphore signals are shown in operation.


There are some sizeable bridges.


Much of the fleet needs repainting in 1995. Variety of locomotives.


SD units are the dominate road power.


Top notch videography. Note, the CSX locomotive on the lead.


Pentrex does so well at the pan.


There are some old structures from the steam era, still standing along the route. Check the GE on the head end.


Amtrak makes several quick appearances.


Willcox still has a Station in use by SP.


After awhile, the trains begin to look the same.


Intermodal traffic is the main traffic.


A hot Union Pacific train breaks the monotony of SP led freights.


Pentrex can be great at identification of trains. On screen graphics, combined with narration, decide this information.


A couple of shortlines get a glimpse. Arizona Eastern here.


The camera crew captures all of the major highlights.


Here are some leased diesels.


Lordsburg provides an anti-climatic conclusion. Fairly quiet. Oddly enough, Pentrex returns to Tucson!


This is the lone caboose in this show. San Pedro Southwestern.

The route traverses scenic, yet relatively barren desert terrain. Sleepy, small towns. In fact, outside of the speeding freights, the show does have a sleepy feel. Most of the time, trains are the only thing moving.

Rating: 4 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

Kansas City Rails


Producer: Pentrex

Location: Kansas City area

Timeframe: 1996- 97

Length: 1 hour 38 minutes

Visit the number two, American Railroad hub. See the hot spots. Pentrex was there, in 1996 to 1997. Besides the variety of locations, many railroads operate in this city.

Amtrak, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, CP Rail, Kansas City Southern, Gateway Western, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific. Older pre- merger paint schemes, as well. Soo Line in original paint, seen below.


No Chapter Menu. Too bad with the large assortment of locations.


Basic maps. They have a healthy supply of these.

Narration with be natural sound. Good, even level levels. A fine script. The show is well paced.

A jet snow blower is shown operating. Not here. Too much to see, to have everything.

Many shots are somewhat obscured, at the beginning of scenes. Tree branches are the culprit. Perhaps, the way it is around Kansas City. The views do clear up. A bit odd for a Pentrex film.


A BNSF on a Santa Fe crossing. Kansas City has a cornucopia of trackage and trains!

vlcsnap-2019-05-01-19h03m00s050Locomotives both old and new, will be found. Norfolk Southern 8854.


Speaking of old. Union Pacific E9 units return from a Super Bowl game.


Sticking with old for another frame. Model Railroaders can have a field day, with vintage structures.

vlcsnap-2019-05-01-19h16m20s240Chicago Northwestern 8686, leads a train on this stunning shot. Looks like a painting.

vlcsnap-2019-05-01-19h47m18s355Tough to choose a Kansas City Southern. These SD45T3 rebuilds are singular!

vlcsnap-2019-05-01-19h01m42s795Gateway Western with a transfer run.


Apparently, CP Rail had to go through some circuitous routing, to get around the city.

vlcsnap-2019-05-01-20h06m15s819Armourdale Yard. This vast facility was a Rock Island property.

vlcsnap-2019-05-01-18h54m53s049Although the lighting isn’t perfect. The trestle displays a part of the charm of KC. Those Southern Pacific locomotives must be testing the strength of the steel.

vlcsnap-2019-05-01-19h22m20s850Burlington Northern original Cascade Green paint. This is still plentiful here.


Santa Fe, is also beaucoup in both schemes.

vlcsnap-2019-05-01-18h59m26s486Soo Line 6045 still wearing it’s factory paint. Leads a Canadian Pacific move.


This BNSF is going to Willow Springs, Illinois. Argentine Yard was a Santa Fe. It is featured and the largest in the area.


The caboose was off the mainline trains here. Not even seen on the locals. This Union Pacific Super Bowl Special. It is a worthy closer. Times do change…

This show provides comprehensive coverage, of Kansas City and vicinity. It extends outward, into some rural locations.

The plethora of: railroads, trains and locations, is nearly overwhelming. It will stand up to some repeat viewings.

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

The Heritage Collection, Volume 1

Empire Builder Cover.indd

Producer: Pentrex

Timeframe: 1940 – 1950s

Locations: USA

Length: 1 hour 35 minutes

Five vintage films from the 1940s and ’50s. Professionally produced by the Railroad organizations of the time. Most, if not all of these have circulated. Convenient to have a group on a single DVD.

A detailed Chapter Menu breaks them down by the five movie titles.  A Play All option, as well.


These shall be reviewed by individual title. All are narrated. Full color films.

A roll up and combined rating upon completion.


Burlington Route FT set. One of the myriad of rarities.

On The Track 

AAR short film of 1950s era. Dudley Productions.  A shared theme of America produces, and ships by rail. Wide variety of railroads passby the camera.  


There are a number of famous landmarks. Prosperous, post war America. There are similar films made during this time.


Covers much subject matter in about 15 minutes. Historical look back into time. Heavy industry is one focus.


Plenty of early diesels. F and E units dominate. A few odd, Alco and Baldwin units. Several steam locomotives.


Life – Line of the Nation

Another Carl Dudley Production. Don McNamara has the narrator credit.


An earlier film. Deals with World War 2. The valuable role of US railroads to move the military. The industry to manufacture equipment.

C&O 1490 is shown above.


Hence, a National defense theme. Milwaukee Road box cab electrics.



Get busy identifying what you see in all of these shows. Look closely…

Florida East Coast!


Milwaukee Road Hiawatha. Nice runby!

Runs about 20 minutes. Plenty of steam.


Rare, New York Central Empire State Express.

Early diesels in small numbers here.


The might of the US industrial complex, to support the war effort. Cooperation amoung the railroads to move everything.

The responsibility of the railroads to keep the peace time America rolling.


225,000 Mile Proving Ground

A 1958 produced, Association of American Railroads. Dudley Pictures.

The Headline Story of Railroad Research.


The subtitle sums up where this movie short is going. These old films do like to emphasize just how well they are doing!

This Union Pacific Turbine, is the future.


The science of Railroading. Metallurgy, as in more durable rail is one subject. Freight car design and uniform improvements.


Improved refrigerator equipment. Santa Fe.


Modern hump yard.


Modern signaling for reliable train movements. Great Northern.


Boxcars are constantly improved.

America’s 225,000 rail miles are the proving ground for so much technology.

Suffice it to say, A Chicago headquarters, was at the forefront, of the leading edge.

Railroads and National Defense

Dudley Pictures. Korean War era.

America: with natural resources, industrial might and a strong military. Ready to meet any challenge. Transportation is the key.



This short is packed with early diesels!

Missouri – Kansas – Texas E units. MKT.


This one reassures the public, that our railroads are more than ready to move the military.vlcsnap-2019-04-28-20h15m48s775

By now, you will notice the recycling of some footage. Remember, the producers were doing these films separately. They would have never dreamed of a single DVD!


Seaboard train


Buses move troops to the trains. Going to embarkation areas.


Runs about 12 minutes. Many of the same trains seen previously. Like this Monon.

In a way, seen one, seen them all with these old short films. They vary somewhat. Yet, are quite similar.

Mainline USA

Also an AAR release from the 1950s. Dudley Pictures. Gilmore is this narrator.


Probably the best of this collection. Many diesels. Pennsylvania Baldwin Sharks.


Rock Island TA.

Again with the greatest America.

Same recycled footage. Much new and additional film.


This one contains the largest selection of diesels. Western Maryland trio, in fireball paint scheme.


Baltimore and Ohio F7A.


Advances, such as truck trailers on flatcars.

Runs about 20 minutes.


The Heritage Collection, Volume 1

Pentrex has delivered on the advertised. These vintage short films are of a historical nature. Repeat scenes, no extra charge!

Years ago, many old train films were difficult to obtain. Much has surfaced over the decades. There are still some rare birds. Although, only a quick glimpse of each.

Overall, an authentic period collection. Has trains, and much more. One viewpoint of American life. May or may not, be of interest.

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars


Cajon II combo


Producer: Pentrex

Timeframe: early ’90s

Locations: Cajon Pass, SF+ SP

Length: 2 1/2 Hours

Here is a two for one, combination release. On a single DVD. The shows are titled as the following. Cajon II- Railroading in the ’90s. Cajon Pass Cab Ride.

This DVD release, has been further improved, with Chapter Menus.

Each program shall have separate reviews. A combined rating at the conclusion.

This was filmed before the mergers. Santa Fe, Southern Pacific and Union Pacific, all were individual Railroads.

Cajon II
Length: 90 minutes
Source: Video Rails

This was originally produced by Video Rails. The Chapter Menu offers a split by SF or SP.

John Leslie is the narrator. Script is on the lightweight side. Has some background and current information. At a ninety minute show length and two mainlines. There was room for more.


Videography is first rate. Really well done! Plenty of locomotive variety.


Audio has natural train sounds in good balance. Fine pacing and editing.

Several Rio Grande locomotives appear.


Maps are included and referenced on both SF and SP routes. Elevation maps are a great extra. These are seen progressively.


An extended look at San Bernardino facilities. Some of the structures,are scheduled for demolition.

vlcsnap-2019-04-26-15h17m42s082Long lash-ups of SP and SF on approach to Cajon Pass.


Amtrak’s Southwest Chief.


Cotton Belt units on the point.


At Blue Cut in 1993. UP has a failed E9B.


Sullivan’s Curve with blue warbonnets.


Scenic vistas abound.


Santa Fe in the foreground. Southern Pacific on the upper track. Looks like a model railroad scene.


Winter makes a brief appearance!


The Santa Fe crossovers get everyone back on the correct mains.

vlcsnap-2019-04-26-16h46m21s586Windup at Victorville. Santa Fe crossing over Cajon Pass complete.


Surprised that the camera goes back out. Onboard a Southern Pacific train. In the cab. A truncated ride it turns out to be.

Cajon II

An excellent program. Beautiful videography, that captures trains and scenery of Cajon Pass area. Good pacing that keeps the interest high.

Variety of power compensates for the less interesting consists of the trains. The natural audio sounds fine. Narrative could have been stronger in content.

Cajon Pass Cab Ride

Length: One hour

Source: Vide Rails

Now the viewpoint is turned around.

SP symbol,WCEUM. SD40T2 #85372, with 5 units. West Colton to Eugene Manifest.

The train yard at Colton. Unclear what exactly is happening. A random collection of shots.

Until, our train moves. Yard speed exiting this area.


Same footage as was pieced out at the end of the previous show. Naturally, this is the complete version.

A route map and an elevation map are provided.

Narrative begins as full and fades off…

Train moves along slowly. Wasted opportunity, to augment with discussion.

The videography is excellent. Professional and the cameraman has an eye for moving the viewpoint.

There is no talking after leaving the yard. This quickly turns into boredom!


The train moves along slowly. Not even radio chatter. Only the locomotive sounds.


Sullivan’s Curve. A faster Santa Fe intermodal, gives relief with it’s airhorn!


Plenty of peeking back at the lash-up. Check the pair of SD9s. One in Kodachrome paint.


This is a long sixty minutes. A great example of how to film a cab ride. Move the camera. Same as you would swivel your head.


Several locations are noted with graphics.


This would be so much better with some talking.


Are we there yet? This silent ride is a drag…


Detrain at Phelan. The crew seemed friendly enough. Why not talk to them?

The lack of narrative, during the cab ride. This constitutes the bulk of this show. It drags it down. Makes this a one and done. The first show is the winner.



Cajon II combo 

Both are Video Rails original programs. They offer professional videography. The narrative portions are weak. Especially, on the Cab Ride.

Fans of Santa Fe and Southern Pacific should still find these to be worth viewing. The Cajon II being the stronger of this pair.

Rating: 4 Stars