The Golden Twilight of Postwar Steam Vol.4

The Golden Twilight of Postwar Steam Vol.4 PostwarSteam_Pt4_DVD

Green Frog Productions

Length: 51 minutes

Time Period: 1940’s- 1950

Locations: Putnam/ Harlem NYC, NYO&W

Source: Frank W. Schlegel

MSRP: 29.98

A fascinating series continues in a 4th volume. Featuring the rare New York Central Putnam Division, from the late 1940’s. The NYC Harlem Division is also included in this show. It is Ten Wheeler heaven for those so inclined. Another co-star is the New York, Ontario & Western. NYO&W contains the ultra rare content.

1234 highbridge

Frank Schlegel was the Cinematographer for this collection of films. He had good proficiency with a movie camera. Much of the footage is black and white. Some pieces are color. Quality ranges from fair, to a majority of very good. Nice composition skills. In fact, for the era, an excellent selection of viewpoints. Much more than a series of runbys. Viewers will: ride trains, front end shot scenes, rear facing and some panoramic  frames. Steam engines are the star. A handful of early diesels. Yet, there are plenty of people and structures.

east viewColor film comes later. This Ten Wheeler leads a passenger move, perhaps at East View.

Harlem Division is the mainline New York Central that we are accustomed to seeing.

What is the oldest bridge in New York City, that connects 2 boroughs? Hint, it is not the Brooklyn Bridge. See the picture below.

croton aqueductVariation is a hallmark of these films. An m.u. ride yields a terrific scene at High Bridge. Part of the old Croton Aqueduct. Completed in 1842, the system carried fresh water by gravity, over 40 miles to New York City. A walkway on the top connects the Bronx and Manhattan.

Professional production in all aspects. Full narration. Appropriate soundtrack with well balanced levels. Smooth editing and best possible picture from the old films. An extremely detailed chapter menu. Unique, is a motion map of the territory. Switchable on/off narration.

 

1238 bronx1The Bronx, New York. Even in the late 1940’s, the endless high rise apartments are imposing.

The New York Central Putnam Division no longer exists. In this program, the line gets a basic tour. Station stops and travel the trackage. A well written script is informative. The show is fast paced. A multitude of vintage scenes

mt hope1Mount Hope is a contrast to the big city. Believed to be the hometown of Mr. Schlegel. By the way, model railroaders can have a field day with the plethora of railroad structures. Check this walkover passenger bridge for example.

5456 j2 hudson putnam jctPutnam Junction appears to have been a busy facility. A J2 class Hudson trundles slowly. This 5456 was finishing it’s career on the Putnam Division.

safety bridge                                         Is this scene a time portal or what?

white plainsOver at White Plains. One never knew what power was going to show up next.

conductorAs much as railroading has changed, some jobs are timeless.

 

New York, Ontario & Western is a major rarity to see in operation. That it is a feature here, is worth the price of admission. There is even some color film too. Viewers will experience some traveling on the OW. Stations and other points of interest make this a singular trip in time to the long abandoned railroad. The ‘Old Woman’ was closed in 1957. You do the math.

405Custom streamlined by a famed designer, the 405 is a sharp looker.

455 youngs gap                    Mountain type 455, bears down with a freight at Young’s Gap.

cn tower ordersA tour of the line is great. Begins at New York Central Ferry at Manhattan. Our train stops as the conductor receives orders for operation on the NYO&W. CN tower is this location.

stationRiding the mostly single track OW line has a much different feel from the sophisticated New York Central. Even in the 40’s, this road seems to fit one of the nicknames- ‘old and weary’.

y2 mountain 1947                     A 1947 chartered excursion looks glorious in color.

ft setAs the timeline progresses, Electromotive FT diesels appear. This FT ABBA set looks stunning, compared to the all black locomotives of the steam days.

Always prefer to close a review with a caboose. In this case, 2 railroads call for a pair!

nw2 122As the end came in the diesel era for the NYO&W, It is fitting to close with a colorful scene with this NW2 switcher.

local

New York Central was a cutting edge railroad in it’s prime. At the end of the day, the NYC crews were probably just as exhausted as their NYO&W counterparts. Yes, even on the Putnam Division.

The Golden Twilight of Postwar Steam Vol.4. Green Frog has produced an outstanding steam era trip back in time. A multitude of rarities make this a must have for railfans and model railroaders. Highly recommended to all train lovers.

Rating: 5 Stars

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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

Pullman Rail Journeys – Rebirth of an American Legend

Pullman Rail Journeys – Rebirth of an American Legend cover

Diverging Clear Productions

2014 Release

Length: 53 minutes + preview section

Time Period: 2014 with some vintage film.

Locations: Chicago – New Orleans roundtrip

Sources: Mary R. McPherson, Kurt I. Jensen, George Redmond

MSRP:20.00

Here is a new take on an old favorite. Most railfans are aware of classic train era Pullman service. Operating their renowned cars on such famous passenger trains as: The 20th Century Limited, Broadway Limited, Panama Limited and the Super Chief. This was luxury level travel, aboard the finest trains in the country. The experience was an integral part of the journey.

amtrak city of new orleans locomotive                      What does this historic aspect have to do with a 2014 Amtrak train?

So happens that our producer Mary McPherson, is also a real life Amtrak conductor. Her regular assignment is on The City of New Orleans. Another train that is rich in history. Viewers will take a roundtrip on this train. However, we will travel in style, aboard a 70 year old, updated and refurbished, genuine Pullman car. While the Amtrak cars are nice, this trip is unique.

Those familiar with Diverging Clear Productions have witnessed an evolution in their programs. Improvements in equipment, and overall production are a welcome sight in the train video market. If you have seen some of the earlier releases, you are in for a nice surprise. The level of professionalism has been on the upswing over time. Mary has been on a mission to offering railfans improved releases.

Let’s see what her and her companions have been doing aboard the Pullman…

Kurt Jensen is a familiar voice on DCP programs. The script is well written. An abundance of narrative covers quite a bit of ground. In a classic style, A chapter of Pullman background opens the show, along with some vintage film.The structure of the Pullman crew is informative.

Chicago tail         Fast forward to present day, in Chicago. Amtrak #59 – The City of New Orleans.

20th century limitedThis 1950’s scene appears to be on the New Yprk Central 20th Century Limited.

dinner 2014                                                     Here we are – at dinner, in 2014.

This trip offers interviews that interpolate with Kurt’s narrative. We will hear from a few members of the Pullman team.

moore Jody Moore is one. He is a natural for on-screen work. All of his discussions are clear, and he is just a good listen.

chi night 2The overall cinematography on the 2014 shots is first rate. Solid and smooth. Mary favors night scenes and they are all nicely illuminated. The various scenes are smartly chosen. This is Chicago. Amtrak/ Metra yard.

rowe

Editing is smooth. Each chapter has a definite close. In fact, this show is one of the tightest edits that DCP has released.

Musical interludes, natural sounds and even more vintage cuts, are intermingled throughout.

Iowa Pacific is the entity that: collects, restores and operates these cars. They are all painted in the old, Illinois Central passenger scheme. Lettered for the current road. Original,chocolate and orange livery.

hammond la In both directions, some classic train stations are seen. They are beauties.

hansen

Rick Hansen discusses specifics of what Pullman crew members actually do on their jobs. All of the Pullman personnel are fine communicators. This is likely a big part of why they are in these positions.

cn 2727 A note of interest. This train traverses the Yazoo District since the 1990’s. A deviation of the original Illinois Central route. Strange for me, to see Canadian National power this far south. A new age indeed.

vaugn ms

The return trip is exactly that. However, their are some surprises. I would have liked even greater detail regarding  – what happened here. It is still good, a little more story needed, for the family viewers benefit.

Also on my want list would be a brief tour of the car interiors.

iowa pacific memphisPullman Railway Journeys – Rebirth of an American Legend. A fine program for the entire family.

For those seeking a train program that is about current railroading, this one is interesting. The hour you spend here, will pass quickly. The hallmark of an enjoyable show.

Mary, you have come a long way. Congratulations!

Viewers, this show is highly recommended.

Rating: 4 Stars

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

Vignettes of the Jersey Central Volume 3

Vignettes of the Jersey Central Volume 3cvr

Clear Block Productions

Length: 53 minutes

Time Period: early 1960’s- 1970’s

Locations: Jersey City to Scranton (many places)

Sources: A. Angstadt, K. Bealer, W. McClennan, J. Reck, R. Wilt

MSRP: 30.00

Third volume begins at Communipaw, NJ in the early 1960’s. Freight and commuter service are covered. Nearly the entire length of Jersey Central is within this show. Five film sources were used for this program. All color presentation of 8mm sources. Todd Miller has good, but too minimal narration.

Baltimore and Ohio owned the cash strapped CNJ at this time. Plenty of hastily relettered B&O power is seen serving CNJ. Of course, regular B&O locomotives are present. Other railroad diesels are: Reading, Lehigh Valley and a little cameo of Delaware & Hudson. Also. Norfolk and Western leased F units, in assorted assignments. A few RDC scenes too.

comm                    Striking, 1st generation lashups are on the early 1960’s footage.

Clear Block has plenty of authentic train sounds to augment the old films. By builder, they sound different. Pretty good overall effect.

There are zero maps or on screen graphics. The way we travel around, increased location awareness is badly needed. A viewer can end up feeling lost.

rs                      Alco RS-3 engines operate at what looks like Allentown Yard.

Film quality is unrestored. Imagery ranges from fair to good. Sometimes, the color balance is off. Keep in mind, any vintage CNJ is hard to find.

cnj9701Vintage diesels from the various builders appear in 1st and 2nd generation models. Fairbanks Morse switchers in yard service.

bald                                   Baldwin switchers and old road units are still operating.

crane2Poor condition track is evident. Some trains rock violently and you will see a number of derailment sites. A pair of steam cranes are rerailing piggyback cars.

pushers Red Baron scheme is barely evident in this volume. This pair of Geeps are pushing this passenger move at an unknown location.

cabride The final section is a lengthy cabride on a freight from Allentown to Scranton, Pennsylvania.

hoop                Time honored practice of hooping up the orders to a passing train.

This third volume has a wide variety of CNJ film . Viewers will have to consider the unrestored nature of the show. A solid narrative would have achieved a higher score.Seems best geared for the hardcore fan. It has plenty of rare, and hard to find material. More casual fans may be disappointed. Overall, it feels like an old, early train video.

In any case, if you seek vintage Jersey Central, this is an action packed release.

Rating: 2 1/2 Stars