Conrail’s Beginning

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Producer: Clear Block

Timeframe:1976

Locations:East

Length:100 minutes

Source: Paul Geiger

In May, 1976 Paul Geiger took his 8mm movie camera to film Conrail. This is early in the merger. He visited many locations.

Another unrestored vintage, 8mm color film collection. The films are clean. Dark scenes too often. Nothing weird color wise. Good to very good, except for brightness issues. No maps or extras are included.

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The show does have natural sounding train audio. The sound is fine.

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Narrative is somewhat stiff in nature. Although, very busy and thorough. I see Paul Geiger narrates it himself.

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Too much to get everything here. Look at some highlights. Generally, everyday proceedings. In retrospect, this was a snapshot of 1976. See what is happening…

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Paul travels around Eastern points of Conrail. He will sometimes pan a scene. Mainly, this show is wall to wall action!

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Check this Conrail GG-1 at Enola Yard. Everyone was in, on the special celebration of the bi-centennial year.

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A grand Buffalo area tour. Bison Yard and Frontier Yard in Buffalo, NY. Tower visits. Buffalo Terminal. Historical aspects too. Amtrak E units are trading places here.

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Binghamton, NY. and the Delaware and Hudson. BD Tower. Binghamton station . Lackawanna Depot.

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As Paul travels around the new Conrail. He also films from a vehicle. Two for one shot. Kingsley Viaduct and a classic Texaco.

This one is for the Model Railroaders!

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Early merger units may display a renumber. As on this Erie Lackawanna.

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A cornucopia of trains! All kinds. Sans active steam. E-44 electric locomotives here.

 

A quick visit to Sayre,PA. and the Lehigh Valley.

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Coxton Yard. Lehigh Valley RS11 is working.

Allentown Yard at R Tower.

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RDC Bethlehem Reading line. Take a tour ride to Reading Terminal, in Philadelphia, PA.

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Lehigh and Hudson River visited. Very quiet. Nothing active at the moment.

Maybrook Yard is abandoned. Unused since 74 fire on Poughkeepsie bridge.

New York Central station. Penn Central FL9 Poughkeepsie. Hudson River line.

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Amtrak. Metro North, and New Haven. All crammed into the dense city areas.

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New Jersey Transit. Many GG-1 led trains are seen. Even in black Amtrak paint.

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Elizabethport, NJ. Central of New Jersey

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Reading PA receives an extended look.

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Reading fans will see a good supply.

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Pennsylvania Rockville bridge is very busy. Paul does a fine job of showing us this hot spot.

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A rare EMD electric demonstrator.

Altoona in the summer of 1976, is very busy.

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Horseshoe Curve. These three GP35 units, contain key components of the new Conrail.

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There is plenty of Penn Central freight moving through the Altoona vicinity.

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Fresh Conrail paint appears more frequently, as the summer of 1976 continues.

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Penn Central 6254 is an SD40. Compare with Conrail blue below.

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May of 1992. Video update with Penn. area.

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A solid composite, of the birth of Conrail. Consistent camera work. Good soundtrack. Well organized. Coverage includes quite a lot of territory.

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

 

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Santa Fe’s Seligman Sub

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Producer: Bill Brown

Locations: Flagstaff, Winslow, Seligman, Kingman, Canyon Diablo, Ash Fork, AZ. Needles, CA.

Timeframe: 1989

Length: One Hour

Source: Dave Gross

Santa Fe across Northern Arizona. A secondary feature is the Peavine Line towards Phoenix. Plenty of scenic views which may surprise those unfamiliar with Arizona. It’s various terrain, vegetation and elevations.

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This is a pro shot video throughout. I have not witnessed a substandard frame in the whole program. Kudos to WB Video for the quality in this area!

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The one cavaet is that; this film has not been transferred to modern standards. In effect, everything looks a little soft on a modern screen. Too bad, as this dates the show.

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Audio is also, professional and smoothly done. Everything is well-balanced.

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Rege Cordic sounds like a seasoned veteran on the microphone.

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Script is thought out, as well. Sometimes it is very simplistic. Perhaps, the writer did not want to lose viewers in railroad technicalities. Being an old release. Fine for it’s era.

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The show does lack any maps. No chapter menu either. Not a huge loss on this particular program regarding maps. It pretty much travels East to West. The one deviation is the Southern line to Phoenix.

Does not travel all the way to Phoenix. Goes to around Williams. Maybe, it is still the Seligman Sub territory. Though not mentioned.

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Santa Fe had rebuilt much of their earlier power by this time. Viewers will see mainly second generation EMD units. Some General Electric, as well. New third generation diesels are beginning to appear.

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Freight trains are well into the standardization era. Less interesting than previous decades. Still, some box cars and general freight cars in service, sans graffiti. So, good times!

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Mainline traffic is predominantly intermodal. Piggybacks and containers.

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Pre-merger Kodachrome SF units are fairly common. The end of train device has nearly replaced the caboose.

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Beautiful Arizona scenery is a visual attraction for the Seligman Sub.

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The Peavine Line takes the Santa Fe southbound to Phoenix. As stated, this show does not go to the city.

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Santa Fe had attractive stations. This one at Kingman, Arizona.

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Our tour concludes in Needles, California. A former Harvey House that is now the location for a crew change point.

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As other ex: Harvey Houses are shown. There is some history provided. A little more information would have been welcome. Although this is easily obtained. Interesting to seek out, if you are unfamiliar with Harvey House!

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WB Video has a solid program in Santa Fe’s Seligman Sub. Chief concern, is the overall softness on a larger, modern sreen.

It is a well produced train video. Suitable for family viewing. Excellent for: Railfans, Model Railroaders and those interested in Arizona.

Santa Fe – All the Way!

Rating: 4 Stars

“Q” Connections

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Producer: Steve Bransfield

Timeframe: 1940s- 1963

Locations: Chicago, Galesburg, Denver, San Francisco, and more..

Length: 50 minutes

Sources: Blackhawk collection

Burlington Route is the main railroad in this show. Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, had  the connections that are featured. This leads into offshoot tangent storylines.

Therefore, Q Connections. The California Zephyr is a major part of this premise. Serving from Chicago to San Francisco, CA. This train involves multiple lines, as it traverses across the Western United States.

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Program contains mostly color. Additional black and white films. No chapter menus.

Ted Dalaku is the clear voiced narrator. Familiar on A&R Productions. Full narration. Script is well written. To the point and descriptive.

Audio is dubbed with train sounds. Narration level is dominant. Actually, sounds unbalanced. The way a commercial plays too loud versus a program.

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The images do vary by the source film. Good overall. Not by modern standards. Fine for older train videos. Editing is good. Everything is watchable. Nothing weird.

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There are some maps. Older release. They are fine. Some interesting pan shots, of the old cities throughout.

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Galesburg, Illinois had a major yard for Burlington Route. A pair of E7 locomotives lead different Zephyrs.

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Burlington Route has the California Zephyr.

The CZ will origin at Chicago Union Station. There are multiple shows about the CZ. While a decent production. Quality on this one is not the best of the more modern CZ shows. Does have the vintage factor in it’s favor.

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Denver and Rio Grande Western. Rio Grande, has spectacular scenery. DRGW locomotives were used to power the Zephyr over this portion of the journey.

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Colorful, Western Pacific EMD F3 sets lead the Zephyr on the final leg of it’s journey. California has it’s own, Feather River Canyon. This alone, is a scenic as anything else on the trip.

 

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Burlington Route steam fan trip in 1963. This big Northern type is from Denver.


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Western Pacific Fast Freight. As an attached seperate film. A WP freight move in the 50s. Oakland to Salt Lake City, Utah. Number 62 travels the line. Cab ride and airplane shots.

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The intricacies of moving this train are studied. A time capsule. An old black and white film. Apparently, a vintage Blackhawk release. Well done piece.

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Additional vintage film. This one IS rare! An Iowa shortline that connected to the Q. The Manchester and Oneida. An old former, CB&Q 4-4-0 served the 8 mile long track.

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A&R Productions has this assortment, released under the CB&Q flag. A collection of varying interest. Depends on your own interests.

“Q” Connections is a mixed bag.

Everywhere West and then some…

Rating: 3 Stars

 

Railfanning the Delaware and Hudson – Volume 3

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Producer: John Pechulis

Locations: Binghamton, NY., Allentown, Philadelphia, DuPont, PA.

Time Period: 1978- 1985

Length: 73 minutes

Sources: Joe Bednar, Jonathan Reck

Third in this series continues the D&H story. A couple of mainlines are featured. Previous: Lehigh Valley, Central New Jersey, and Reading, were given to D&H to operate. Conrail trackage rights added even more territory, for D&H to run trains.

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A brief introductory narrative. This is informative.  Preferred presentation, had it been given at relevant points throughout in the program.

Narration starts out strong. It is brief.  Returns in sparse segments.
This leaves natural audio for the remainder of the soundtrack. For the most part, it works out. A few scenes a little too much wind or background. Levelling could have been used, as well.

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Overall, I much prefer to learn more. Operations, an area, or local history. These are some possibilities.

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Now. That being said… Shot on Super 8mm film. The high quality visuals are a huge plus! It is a great looking show.

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Maps, are such a nice piece to include. Simple, and effective to orientate viewers. Standard maps provide geographic orientation of the rail lines. They get the job done.

On screen graphics denote locations. Train designations are frequently included. The designations are pointless, without a corresponding narrative. Unless, one is familiar with the trains.

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One glaring verbal error. Conrail is not a shipper. They are a Carrier. A Rail Carrier.

A shipper is an entity that provides freight. A factory, coal mine or steel mill, for example. A shipper can also be a Freight Forwarder. Container traffic.Another type of Carrier can be a Truckline. See the difference?

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Back to the show. Action packed! Trains are non stop. They keep rolling across the screen. Fine cinematography!

vlcsnap-2018-12-23-01h23m50s719By this later date. Electromotive has become a serious player, on the  once Alco dominated, Delaware & Hudson roster.

vlcsnap-2018-12-23-01h29m30s302Surprising inclusion, is this Alco RS3M. Would have like to hear details about this Bi-Centenntial unit.

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The Boston and Maine! Uncommon in railroad videos. Especially this clean. There are other B&M units to be found, within this program.

vlcsnap-2018-12-23-02h09m19s490Maine Central is another rare bird! The interest level continues to rise on this show.

vlcsnap-2018-12-23-01h50m15s315A cornucopia of D&H diesels to view. No call-outs on diesel designations. Obviously an Alco… I know what is. Do you?

vlcsnap-2018-12-23-01h44m44s952Norfolk and Western units appear frequently. Full sets, and mixed in, with other power. Another missed opportunity, on the narrative.

vlcsnap-2018-12-23-01h39m44s006Pushers are used on various trains. Note the former Reading unit here.

vlcsnap-2018-12-23-01h18m41s850Concluding with an independent line.
Anthracite Road. Former Reading Lines, Perkiomen branch is the operating trackage. An ex: D&H, RS-3 is the locomotive powering the freight.
Delaware and Hudson Volume 3 is a worthy addition to the series. The high level of action, and variety of locomotives, combine to a satisfying visit to the alphabet area.

Excellent visually. Good live train audio. More information via narration, would have rated higher marks.

Railfan only show.

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

 

The Panhandle Volume One : C&N Division- Penn Central- Conrail- B&O

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Producer: Clear Block

Locations: Columbus, Newark, Ohio

Timeframe: 1970’s- 1991

Length: 60 Minutes

Sources: Paul Geiger, Bob Sherwood

Penn Central and Conrail, are the main railroads featured here. Baltimore and Ohio is also a joint trackage railroad operator, for 35 miles.

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The Panhandle, was an old nickname for what much later, was to become Penn Central territory. Between Pittsburgh, Columbus, St. Louis and Chicago.

This show covers the portion from Columbus to Newark. In depth historical information, is given via the narrative. Later series, Panhandle Volumes cover additional portions, of the involved routes.

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An older show in the Clear Block catalog. Dates back to the VHS tape era of commercial release. Unrestored and definitely showing it’s age.

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Film quality is fair overall. Plenty of scenes need color correction. Here again, a distortion bar!! This show has it at the bottom of the screen. Some Clear Block shows include these distortions.

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Although Penn Central paint dominates the program. Early Conrail patch jobs appear. As do, these former Erie Lackawanna SD45 units.

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Viewers are watching silent films, with narration and musical background. Only a 1991 update offers any live train sound. Not a badly put together show. It does have it’s share of serious flaws.

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Primitive maps, by more modern standards. Better to have, these simple maps versus nothing. They do the job.

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Bob Sherwood does the busy narration. Descriptive of nearly every scene. That encompasses a very large quantity of rather brief scenes!

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Amtrak takes a significant chunk of time. Centered around the Columbus Union Terminal. The old one is closed. This runs past it’s welcome. Feels like filler. Watching Amtrak trains back into and around the station area. Yawn…

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At this time, demolition is near or in progress, for many structures. This would be the rarity of the program.

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Some limited cab ride sequences appear. They are quick glimpses.

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Paul Geiger was a Towerman on the Penn Central. Some of those unique viewpoints are seen in this show. Tower views, yard access and wreck scene. Likely, including the locomotive cabs for those views.

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The Mail Train. In various incarnations. America’s mail once moved mostly by rail. Remember Air Mail?

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Majority of the program is trackside filmed action. ATVR tidbit… Southern Pacific units were run through power.

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B&O, C&O diesels provide additional variety. Trackage rights territory.

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Sharp eyes will observe the obvious Baltimore and Ohio architecture.

Interesting to note. Baltimore and Ohio lineside structures. Pennsylvania signals. A unique combination reflecting the dual operation of The Panhandle. See the narrative.

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A 1991 update brings the program to a close. Further demolition of the once dominant rail system is shown. Downsized to single track and double track operation. Removed yard. An interesting, if unwanted conclusion.

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This early works from Clear Block is very outdated now. It is badly in need of a remaster. As the featured railroads are available in much better quality elsewhere. It would really only be for hardcore railfans or completists.

Rating: 2 1/2 Stars