Pocahontas Glory Volume One

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Producer: J.R. Herron

Locations: Kenova, Columbus,Portsmouth, Abingdon, VA.

Timeframe: 1950’s.

Length: 39 minutes + previews

Source: Ben T. Young Jr., CH Snyder, Howard Robins

Herron Rail offers an all color show of Norfolk and Western vintage steam. This was filmed in the 1950’s. Areas focused on are: Kenova, Columbus, and Portsmouth. A special segment following the Abingdon Branch is included later in the show.

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This is high quality film. Program was originally released in 1989. Although there are no maps. Narration by Ralph Morse, is descriptive. He sounds like a professional.  An earlier train video era, 1989 release. The age of VHS tape.vlcsnap-2018-12-29-01h10m33s570
Direct and detailed narration. There is a ‘slide-show’ section near the beginning. Various locomotives on the steam roster are covered.

Audio has musical background with narrative overlay. Environmental audio, with frequent narration is used. Brief scenes of train only audio, are interspersed throughout the program. Dubbed with great care seems to have been done. Maybe even some live.

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Script is thought out and well composed. Overall, an emphasis on sound balance. Good levels everywhere. Smoothly presented show!

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This is a quality program. Action galore! Steam power is nearly constant. Towards the end, early diesels do take over. Historically accurate.

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Of course, N&W steam power often are big locomotives!

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Yard scenes give trainwatchers the chance to see smaller, switch engines.
operate.

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The 600 class ‘J’ locos, were the premier passenger engines at the time.Being located in the heart of coal country. Norfolk and Western kept steam going late, as far as dieselization. This was a boon to those with film equipment. Yet, the roads did not make the areas easily accessible.

vlcsnap-2018-12-29-01h28m17s109Abingdon Branchline operated over 100 bridges. What a contrast to the heavy mainline , steam power .

vlcsnap-2018-12-30-07h49m13s878Steam on Norfolk and Western was filmed, right up until the fires were dropped, in the winter of 1958.

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The story concludes in chronological fashion. It appears to be EMD GP9 diesels for the closing chapters. Some are factory fresh!

vlcsnap-2018-12-29-01h20m35s329There are additional previews of upcoming Pocohontas volumes. Approximately ten minutes of run time.

This is the first Herron Rail Video reviewed on ATVR. Obviously, they care about issuing high quality product. Attention to detail, is evident in all areas of this production. Nicely done show!

vlcsnap-2018-12-29-01h03m02s866Pocahontas Glory Volume 1 does give a satisfying look at Norfolk and Western. This is a fine program, and suitable for family viewing.

Rating: 4 Stars

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Vignettes of the Baltimore and Ohio, Volume 4

Vignettes of the Baltimore and Ohio, Volume 4

 

download

Clear Block Productions

Producer: Todd Miller

Timeframe : 1955- 1965

Locations: Cumberland, Grafton, Sand Patch, Meyersdale

Source: William P. Price

Length: 52 minutes

Released: 2004

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This Volume 4 focus is on the West End. Locomotives contained are; later steam and a plethora of diesel action. Second generation diesels are now present, in the form of GP30 and GP35 power. Multiple B&O paint schemes on the blue locomotives. C&O engines appear post 1964 merger.

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Once again. This show has all color film. Everything was nicely shot by Wm. Price. Live sound from multiple sources that adds interest.

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Clear Block is light on extras. No maps are contained within the program. A disappointment, as this was on Volume 3. No chapter menu included either.

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Everything bounces around quickly! Diesel to steam. Early diesel to later power. An EM-1 smokes heavy, as it starts uphill with a coal trail.

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Helpers can be steam or diesel.

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Call it the luck of the draw. Price was trackside, when the short-lived sunburst paint scheme, was being used. Brand new, Jersey Central, Electromotive diesels enroute from the LaGrange factory.

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Newer GP30 units, in factory Sunburst paint. These are nearly impossible to find on vintage film. Let alone in any quantity. Plentiful here!

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Steam appears randomly throughout this program. Like a close sports game. You will not want to take your eyes off the screen. Might miss something!

vlcsnap-2018-12-15-22h45m54s789The ubiquitous F7 was once so common. Those were one of the very replacements that vanquished the steam engine. Now, they too are relegated to museums and vintage films.

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It almost looks funny now. To see GP9s working, on a mainline coal train. It has been many years since that was a daily occurrence.

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This Vignettes show could be the most fun one that I have seen yet! No annoying flaws. Great amount of action. This F3 set is seen at Cumberland, Maryland.

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Full of cool surprises. Tons of scarce items to see. Note the wagontop caboose.

 

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Model Railroaders can view period frieght equipment, as well. The various locomotive paint schemes will keep them busy.

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Simplified blue, with the large B&O letters and a capitol dome herald. This was to be the final paint scheme.

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Consider there are some other fine Baltimore & Ohio titles, in the marketplace. They are weighted in favor of passenger operations. This show has a great focus on freight trains! If you are looking for vintage freight action. Here is the hot ticket.

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This is a good show that the family should find worthwhile. Live audio is a draw for children and any railfan.

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Wae still have the usual lack of post production attention. It is original, unrestored film. Whatever the reason. This collection appears better overall, than earlier volumes in this series.

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Vignettes of the Baltimore & Ohio, Volume 4.

Fun by the Ton!

Rating 4 Stars.

Vignettes of the Baltimore and Ohio,Volume One

Vignettes of the Baltimore and Ohio, Volume One

VBO1.500

Clear Block Productions

Producer: Todd Miller

Length: 56 minutes

Timeframe: 1950’s

Locations: Columbus, Toledo, rural Ohio, Grafton WV, and more.

Source: Karl Walters

Obviously, the intial offering for Baltimore & Ohio Vignettes. Featuring the films of Karl Walters. Vintage 1950’s era. Mostly steam footage. All color. Silent film, augmented with, a surprisingly lively, music background.

Highly detailed narrative on this release. Paul Geiger is a familiar sounding voice on Clear Block programs. He is on the dry side. Direct delivery as the script is read…

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Original cinematography has good camerawork. Film is not restored. Appears to all have been shot on 8mm. So there is not a high level of clarity.

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Post production is sorely lacking in the visual department! First half of the show contains random red/ yellow flares. Color balance issues throughout the show.  Some other quality control issues. Basically, not anything done from original film condition.

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There are no maps. No chapter menus. You get this basic show. However, a hidden 14 chapters. Viewers can jump in at a given point.

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It is an early style of train video. Back when viewers were satisfied to just see some real vintage film! Often, one had to mail order via the magazine ads. The old days.

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Keep in mind this old style premise. You will get what you get! However, there is tbe benefit of acquiring rare steam film here. In full color.

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Karl Walters was apparently domiciled near Columbus, Ohio. Much of this show is shot in rural Ohio. Secondary lines is what I am thinking. Those were abundant in the 1950’s. Pre-interstate days.

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Fairly amazing for the area. Behemoth EM-1 frequent the lines. Who would have guessed? They were displaced by new technology diesels, out on the mainlines. End result was the big steam was assigned East.

Imagine, a single F7 diesel could not replace an EM-1. Only rated at 1500 hp. Yet, an F7 unit, when strung in multiples… Unlimited horsepower in sets!

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There are plenty of passenger trains still operating. Blue and gray heaven.

vlcsnap-2018-12-14-22h35m40s825An ultra rare EMD EA unit #51, leads a passenger train at Harper’s Ferry, WV. This carbody is on display at the B&O museum in Baltimore.

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Everything is identified in detail. Those who like all of that information will love this narrative.

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Karl travelled around a bit. Grafton, West Virginia. He made it over to Pennsylvania.

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This is a show that I would not rewatch much. Prefer to hear steam operating versus musical background. Also, that 8mm unrestored gets hard on the eyesight!

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Not all that bad. Not great either. OK for an early release. Has it’s video flaws. Vignettes seem to often be flawed.

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I could grind it harder. I do not recommend it for kids or family. Hardcore railfans only. If you  can really appreciate the rarity and need this one.

I will be a little generous.

Rating 3 Stars

Vignettes of the Baltimore and Ohio, Volume 3

Vignettes of the Baltimore and Ohio, Volume 3

VBO3.500

Clear Block Productions

Producer: Todd Miller

Length: 60 minutes

Timeframe: 1942– 1957 approximately

Locations: Sand Patch Grade area , McConnellsville, Falls Cut, Wills Creek, Cumberland, Grafton,WV. MD Salmanaca, NY.

Sources: William P. Price, (color).Garret Wertz, Charles W. Houser Sr  ( black & white film)

Multiple Audio Sources: see film credits

Year: 1998

Clear Block has a four volume series on old Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Centered around ‘Steam Era’ B&O. A stone classic amoung the original Eastern railroads. These are certainly of interest to many.

B&O was one of the railroads that kept operating steam locomotives right through most of the 1950s. This was fortunate to cinematographers. Color movie film became a viable option. Large steapower on mountain grades was in daily service.

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Vignettes of the Baltimore and Ohio, Volume 3. Features a breathtaking collection of mountain steam operations. Viewers will witness B&O put on an awesome display of steam power!

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Filmed during the transition era. Diesels were beginning to replace steam. Some of the early diesels appear.Those engines have now passed into history, as well.
Keep in mind. This program was created in an earlier time. The VHS tape tape era. It retains that overall, primitive build. Maps for example.

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They are most welcome. Geographical orientation always adds enjoyment. Understanding the layout of an area. Learning about any given challenges a line contains. Maps help solidy all of that information.

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Narration is interspered throughout the show. Relevant info is conveyed in a rather dry, matter of fact style. Again, these were earlier productions.Visually. Do not expect modern restoration style viewing. It is more hardcore style. Think of it like music collectors. As they dig deeper for music. Greater rarities or older concerts. Sources become rougher.

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So one adapts their standards. The pleasures are still available. Consider the technologies of the time. Not all train videos have the benefit, of a Charles Smiley or John Pechulis, restoration process either. The real world…

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Action starts in black and white. The year is 1942. We are in Salmanaca, New York. The segment is about ten minutesg. Reminds me. No chapters or chapter menu. The audio is about average in this portion.

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The BIG SURPRISE in much of this program.Is the sound!! WOW!!!!

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This locomotive is first heard. Pounding hard, as it lugs the heavy freight train upward. As it nears, the sound becomes louder. The black enginge looms ever larger…LOUDER!!

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Checkout the grin! Engineer on 5662 is loving life, aboard his shiny engine. All good and he is in charge, of an important train. Over 60 years ago.My favorite sequence in this show!!

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Play this DVD on your main TV. Check the mountain grades. Hear those big steamers come to life. Outstanding!

Always read how steam era photographers, had left the trackside after diesels took over. Nothing was left to see. I experienced similar with third generation diesels and standardized trains. Nothing left to see. This video nails the steam fans viewpoint

vlcsnap-2018-12-14-11h03m51s426Even more fascinating. Hear the rare combinations of steam and diesels working together! If you have experienced ears. Identify Alcos or EMDs, paired with the steam engines.

This sounds like advanced style sound equipment used for the time, in many instances. Sometimes it matches exactly to the footage. Absolute must see film!

vlcsnap-2018-12-14-11h16m27s073There is a major flaw on my DVD.
A Clear Block Productions flaw.
It was present in a similar fashion on their C&O release, a few years ago. I had them check it, at that time. It was in the master. They acted not concerned. That response, has caused me not to inquire this time. The top of the picture has a constant distortion. Similiar, to what could be found in some old VHS tapes.
My best guess is something occurred when it was transferred to digital.
Still a watchable show. Just some slop from the production house. There, you have been told. Cavaet emptor.

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The program is action packed! Wall to wall action. Sans narration for much of the time. Live sound in this quality. Brilliant decision making. No narrative wanted. Let’s stand trackside in the 1950’s. See and hear these locomotives work. Amazing audio, in much of the second half of the program!

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Vignettes of the Baltimore and Ohio, Volume 3 is quite a collection of rare steam era film. The audio portion makes it a definite must have. The video flaw is a big bummer. Film quality varies as well. Unrestored is accurate.

Clear Block just does not consistently, have the higher standards, of some competitors. So this program gets downgraded somewhat.

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Geared more towards the experienced railfan. That person who can live with a major flaw in an established label release.

However, that being said. Despite the obvious production shortcomings. Anyone should be able to appreciate, the often magnificent display of smoke and sound , given by the B&O parade.

It is a very fine combination. Fun for all ages. Who would not like to see and hear big steam engines raise and shake the earth? Sometimes almost going to drive right into your family room. This has those soundbar moments!

I am giving this Vol.3  a considered overall rating of 4 stars. The rare factor elevates it a little higher.

614: Thunder in the Alleghenies

614: Thunder in the Alleghenies cover

Sunday River Productions

Length: 44 minutes

Time Period: 1980 1985

Locations: Huntington to Hinton, New River Gorge

Source: David Corbitt

MSRP: 34.95

Chesapeake and Ohio ran some awesome steam power. The 614 is the single locomotive that is the star of this show. This engine is operating under actual working conditions.

Coal is the commodity being hauled. Loads out and empty hoppers on the return. Six days a week. Action is in the winter. That is just the first part, of this two part program.

signalsThe big 4-8-2 is called a Greenbriar on the C&O. The same wheel arrangement is called a Northern commonly. The C&O wanted a designation with local meaning.

In the evolution of Chessie steam, this was from the final group. Lima was the builder in 1948. The 614 was therefore, a modern steam engine.

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The 614 is a handsome locomotive, from any angle.

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Full color footage is accompanied by natural sound. The narrative is by Alva Morrison. Original production date is 1985. The show was updated for DVD 2010. A chapter menu is present. Editing is smooth.

The audio has a microphone hum, when the narrative is present. Train sounds are excellent, and do not have the hum.

Part 1 has very minimal narration. Part 2 has more. Alva does have his usual informative narration. Viewers may wish for additional info overall.

steamThe cinematography is solid. Framing is thought out and there are a multitude of classic images. Various weather conditions affect the endless supply of runbys.

Winter weather was the reality for January, 1985. Some days the weather is dismal, but the train was a working entity. Action is constant. 614 really gets up plenty of steam throughout the show.

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On the turntable. Many of the structures recall earlier years of operation.

fwRoss Roland owned the 614. This T version of 614 was for testing. Specialized equipment was used to determine multiple factors in the cost of burning coal in 1985. Could updated steam regain it’s crown as preferred power on the mainlines?

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New River Gorge provides some aerial style footage.

Part 2 is centered around Chessie passenger train operations behind 614. The year is 1980. This chapter, film is showing it’s age. Clean appearance, though original condition. Sunshine at last.

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The train climbs steep grades with a long consist

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Afton Mountain has 614 upgrade and without diesel assistance.

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Chessie System had a matching livery on the passenger cars. Class!

thurmond Thurmond, West Virginia. One of the towns that are a wealth of old buildings and vintage feel.

bay window614: Thunder in the Alleghenies does contain a plethora of good cinematography. The dreary winter weather in the main part of the show is a concern. However, this is on C&O. Apparently, bad roads and easier access to neighbor B&O, are some reasons the railroad was infrequently filmed with steam in the 1950’s.

C&O vintage steam is very rare. Sunday River does offer some classic C&O steam, as on Articulateds in Appalachia.

Here is a good opportunity to see an original C&O steam locomotive in regular service. This release is reminiscent of  a time long past.

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars