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.

cards

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.

ebt

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.

tvrr

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.

u36c

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

#Train#Railroad#SantaFe#SouthernPacific

Scarlet and Gray Memories

Scarlet and Gray Memoriescvr

Charles Smiley Presents

Length: 1 hour 40 minutes

Time Period: 1990’s + 1970’s.

Locations: Coast Line, Lompoc, Tehachapi Loop, Santa Paula branch, Bakersfield and much more.

Sources: Jeff Perry, Charles Smiley and others.

MSRP: 29.50

Charles Smiley maintains a vibrant enthusiasm for all things Southern Pacific. This program features much Coast Line action in California. Largely shot in the 1990’s. Plenty of action on area branchlines and we folow the Saugus Local.

There are many extras included in all Charles Smiley Presents releases. True, factory made silver DVD’s. Custom made maps are numerous. Synced sound and first class audio editing. Masterclass level narratives that convey a treasure trove of information on railroads and history. There are period photos, railroadania and appropriate music within those shows. Chapter menus and well organized programs. Many of his releases could be shown as PBS style features. The high quality is consistent. This one is more of a straight train video.

saugus local                                                    Saugus Local in 1993.

Besides being a top level producer, Charles is also a model railroader. See the link to visit his railroad. This perspective, provides a unique insight from a modellers viewpoint. Inclusion of vintage trains and period operations can give inspiration to those recreating trains in miniature.

oil can trainGenerally, there is so much happening with visuals and audio, these are busy shows! Multiple viewings are needed to absorb the operations, and vast amount of historical references.

map

Scarlet and Gray Memories has a focus on contemporary era SP, albeit in the 1990’s. That time period is more interesting than present day trainwatching. Also, less interesting when compared to earlier eras. Using a wealth of excellent action based cinematography, this show is action packed.

sp 93

Second generation diesel power of mainly EMD units, are the main players. Interspersed are some newer locomotives. Southern Pacific in; classic, speed lettered and  Kodachromes in SP and SF. Other liveries include: Rio Grande, Santa Fe, Conrail and Union Pacific.  Additional units from other lines too.

1971           The 1971 footage around Tehachapi Loop vicinity, looks great and is fun to watch.

Vintage films have a greater presence on the second half of the show. Quality is excellent to good. Obviously, years and sources vary.

mp318 Surf          Ride part of the Coast Line onboard an Amtrak passenger train. Milepost 318 at Surf.

tehachapi

mth1  Memorable parade of freights around Tehachapi Loop area. Long head end lashups, plus mid-train helper sets. Tunnel motors abound.

1971mthTime travel back to a cleaner SP circa 1971. Digitally restored film that is sure to please. This feature is a real treat!!

bakersfield

Bakersfield contains footage from 1993 and 1971. Yards action is highlighted here. Alco S6, RS32 and GP9, SD9, F7 locomotives are seen. Extended vitage coverage continues at Tehachapi and various locations.

SPSF 1986 merger period is discussed and Santa Fe at Mohave. SP at Cajon Pass in 73.

surfAs with most CSP shows, there is some overlapping footage. Depending on your collection, you may or may not notice. Each program is a stand alone presentation. Any duplication adds to the individual subject.

1971 cabooses

Overall, Scarlet and Gray Memories is a fine look at the targeted times and subjects. The comparisons to over a 20 year timespan are interesting to see. A must have for fans of Southern Pacific. Charles sets the bar high on his productions. Compared to his other SP releases, this one is just slightly under some of his others. Face it, the 1990’s just weren’t that special. In any case, it does surpass much of the competition.

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Southern Pacific Daylight Time

Southern Pacific Daylight Timecover

A & R Productions

Length: 50 minutes

Time Period: 1930’s- 1950’s

Locations: Pacific Coast, Donner Pass, Chicago, Sunset Route, Mt. Shasta

Source: Blackhawk Collection

MSRP: 29.95

A collection of 5 vintage based SP films. Featuring steam era SP Coast Daylights and more. There are chapters on: SP/ RI Golden State, Cab Forwards and steam era Donner Pass snow service. Approximately half of this show is in black and white film.

coastThe early 1937 Coast Daylight footage was from pre- LAPUT days. Train 99 operates from Central Station in LA to Oakland Mole destination. Black and white film is clean. Interesting.

 sp the larkAction along the Pacific Coast with Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. The Lark is seen here.

gs2 train 99 laSP train number 99 departs Central Station in 1937 at Los Angeles. The GS-2 has it’s counterpart, train 98 scheduled southbound from Oakland.

Ted Daluku narrates a good script. Train sounds are included. The assorted chapters are titled and presented as a series of film shorts. Quality is very good on the whole. One film in particular, The Golden State, seems to have been produced in the 1950’s. Appropriate period corniness for modern viewers.

1952 City of San Francisco Donner PasssnowboundThe City of San Francisco is being freed from the snow in 1952.

4270 ac11SP 4270 is a late model AC11. Leading the Western Pacific California Zephyr at Truckee in 1952.

golden stateJointly operated by Rock Island and Southern Pacific, is The Golden State. Tracing the train from LaSalle Street Station in Chicago, this move winds up on SP’s Sunset Route to Los Angeles. Appears to be a railroad produced film.

F DonnerF units lead trains thru the snowsheds on Donner Pass. This frame has Donner Lake.

tnoSP Daylight Time. The Coast Daylights can be found in full color, on other programs. Naturally, it is still worthy for SP fans. For the rest of us, the vintage era Donner Pass action would be the main reason to acquire this release. A good and informative show.

Rating: 3 Stars

Rails to the Redwood Empire

Rails to the Redwood Empireredwood

Catenary Video Productions

Length: 1 hour 44 minutes

Time Period: 1890-1950.(updated in 2005)

Locations: Marin to Eureka,San Rafael,

Sources: 14 cinematographers

MSRP: 34.50

Northwestern Pacific featured with a pictorial history in this program. An expanded DVD released in 2006. Many different aspects of what constituted Northwestern Pacific. Narrow Gauge, Ferry boats, Electric, Steam, RDC and more. Catenary Video has a complete package here. Using 14 sources for film alone. Assorted photographs are employed to give an overview of this railroad. The footage is mostly color. Much of this material is rare. Some black and white, that is also scarce material.

number 3                                                      This is train Number 3.

Obviously. there has been an emphasis on providing a good looking show. Colors are balanced. Train and additional sounds are integrated nicely. Script is pro level. The chapters play as individual features. This does create a little choppiness with the transitions. The dismal narrator may put you to sleep – he is the main caveat here.

cazaderoVarious NWP ferry boats are well covered. Multiple viewpoints get it done in fine fashion. This one is the Cazadero. Yes, the Eureka is shown and discussed, along with others.

A rather unusual approach with selected then and now photographs tell the majority of the NWP narrow gauge lines. Early years are compared to 1988.

1956                   A Southern Pacific Black Widow SD9 leads a passenger move in 1956.

2819 willetsThe steam chapter is the fantastic highlight. Southern Pacific 2819 at Willets.

eel river bridge 1964Eel River Bridge had entire sections washed away by raging floodwaters.

Southern Pacific flyover on a helicopter in 1964. We survey extensive flood damage to the railraod along The Eel River.

pax          Riding a train with a steady camera. A fun way to experience the flavor of a line.

Between the varied operations and the 60 years of pictorial history, it can be a handful to follow. The relationship to SP needs explanation. As we move through locations and time, some mention of distances would be helpful. There are assorted basic maps, always a benefit to viewers.

skunk m80Number M-80 is a Mack Truck product from 1923. This is the California Western. These gas electrics produced fumes, and nicknamed ‘Skunks”.

An inside visit with the Bridge tender at Petaluma Creek Bridge. Great opportunity to see a swing bridge at work.

Southern Pacific RDC car is seen in operation.

interurbansInterurban electrics, are yet another facet of Northwestern Pacific. There are some early period photos have tall masted ships in the background.

tiburon tt

tiburon yard                          Tiburon Yard is interesting with steam or diesel engines.

nwp 5328

Rails to the Redwood Empire offers comprehensive coverage of Northwestern Pacific. Railfans and model railroaders should find this an informative show.

The presentation on this particular program is extremely dry, as far as the narrator goes.. Good script, sounds and appropriate music. Narration doesn’t match up to the overall high quality of the show. Still, it is a worthwhile release to have in the collection.

Rating: 4 Stars