Montana Rail Link EMDs in the Rockies Volume 1


Producer: C. Vision

Timeframe: 2013-14

Locations: Billings, Laurel, Bozeman Pass, Winston Hill..

Length: 2 hours

Source: Mike Savona

Volume 1 covers the East End. The mainline and three additional subs, are featured. Action begins in the East. Jones Jct. to Helena, is the mainline.  The second volume, covers the West End

vlcsnap-2019-12-26-07h40m08s630A single DVD-R. Detailed Chapter Menu. On-screen graphics. Switch for on/off narration. Don Grant has a sparse script to narrate. Custom maps.


A clean and simple design. These, along with constant on-screen graphics, provide locations. This review only has space for some highlights. All video and natural audio are high quality. Professional level.

vlcsnap-2019-12-26-06h32m33s072Billings local behind a GP9, passes the station. Many local freights are seen throughout the show.

vlcsnap-2019-12-26-12h52m11s763Rare, SD35 pair head to Laurel yard. The 702, is a former Norfolk and Western unit.

vlcsnap-2019-12-26-06h42m30s626Mike Savona’s skills are great! Manifest to Laurel yard.

vlcsnap-2019-12-26-08h18m42s816This O-LIVBLO. Livingston to Blossburg, MT. A passenger special. Narrative would have been helpful.

vlcsnap-2019-12-26-06h52m47s104SD70ACE locomotives do appear. These do replace the SD45 fleet. GP35 and earlier GP9 types are found on many locals. SD45 and SD40 power, is still in service.

vlcsnap-2019-12-26-07h24m35s887West of Elton, the scenery becomes more interesting. GP40 #500 leads a local.

vlcsnap-2019-12-26-06h48m59s330The Crazy Mountains provide some beautiful backdrops. BNSF unit coal moves are often viewed. They are identified in detail. 

vlcsnap-2019-12-26-13h31m44s852At Big Timber, a Manifest train with on-screen graphics.

vlcsnap-2019-12-26-06h45m02s495BNSF in assorted, pre-merger paint, still roam. Santa Fe Warbonnets are in deplorable, cosmetic condition.

vlcsnap-2019-12-26-07h35m05s309Bozeman Pass is included.

vlcsnap-2019-12-26-07h47m36s337A BNSF move with helpers, struggling uphill. MRL SD45 #351, is on the point.

vlcsnap-2019-12-26-08h13m52s665Jefferson Canyon is rarely seen. Remote and light traffic. Once shared, with the Milwaukee Road’s Pacific extension line.

vlcsnap-2019-12-26-07h36m20s016The Videographer works in all weather. He has; early morning, dusk and night shots.

vlcsnap-2019-12-26-07h43m24s380Let’s see a side view of a BNSF train.

vlcsnap-2019-12-26-08h12m51s166Another local. This is one shot that shows the scale of the scene. Note the train symbol and assignment.

vlcsnap-2019-12-26-07h32m45s904A colorful, fall scene. The MRL helper set is detached here. SD40 # 259, is up front.

vlcsnap-2019-12-26-13h53m25s309Livingston local, with a GP35 and a GP9.

vlcsnap-2019-12-26-08h37m17s728This show is overflowing with trains. MRL #260 is a former Burlington Northern SD40.

vlcsnap-2019-12-26-08h14m30s327 A caboose on a Jimbo work train. Could have used a little more narration. What is a Jimbo, for another example.

Professional program in all aspects. Excellent videography. Nice variety that captures the scope of the scenery, and keeps the focus on the trains. Checkout the Volume 2, to gain a complete overview, of Montana Rail Link.

Rating: 5 Stars


Midwest Electric Rails


Producer: Charles Smiley

Timeframe: 1950 – 1962

Locations: Chicago, Milwaukee, South Bend..

Length: 1 hour 38 minutes

Sources: R. Gabriel, D. Kydd, B. Warrick, J. Swenson, J. Illman, G. Barnes, W. Whittaker

Visit the streets of Chicago, in the Streetcar era! See the Milwaukee vicinity. Ride an Electroliner, from Milwaukee to Chicago! See the South Shore operation. All of this and much more. Note  the lack of suburban sprawl, in both major cities.. Vintage vehicles, period businesses, and the people.

vlcsnap-2019-12-22-11h34m04s975Consistent with other trolley, streetcar or electric line programs. A time machine like trip into a bygone era. This show has high quality color movie film. Appears to be 16mm for the majority. All restored films. Stunning appearance!

vlcsnap-2019-12-22-11h37m49s544Audio has many scenes with: trolley sounds and often, automobile traffic. Musical backgrounds that vary. Charles Smiley with the narrative. Very informative. Plenty of history. Still photos augment the discussions. A PBS style program.

vlcsnap-2019-12-22-11h58m05s590A single factory pressed DVD. Detailed Chapter Menu. On-screen graphics. The CSP exclusive, custom made maps. All the extras!

vlcsnap-2019-12-22-11h20m39s755Chicago Surface Lines. A humongous system of over 1,000 miles. Intriguing period footage that contains vintage Chicago.

vlcsnap-2019-12-22-11h26m58s535Charles goes into the various Trolley cars, but look at those street scenes! Check the Divco milk truck at left.

vlcsnap-2019-12-22-11h38m56s179The CSL has beautiful footage of Chicago.

vlcsnap-2019-12-22-11h31m40s233Locals know that Chicagoans love their beer! Often visible on: buildings, signs and delivery trucks. It’s fun to find some old brands.

vlcsnap-2019-12-22-11h43m38s973Chicago, Aurora and Elgin in full color. This line seen in 1950. Ran west and is now a recreational Illinois prarie path for biking and hiking. The Forest Park station is seen. The line was closed in 1959.

vlcsnap-2019-12-22-11h39m47s729CA&E quickly escapes the city, back in those days.

vlcsnap-2019-12-22-11h46m48s684Milwaukee Electric, original went as far north to Green Bay, until 1948. Check that Schlitz tavern. That is interesting history, as well. Schlitz Beer having once built beautiful taverns. A quality brew, to boot! At least until the 1960s.

vlcsnap-2019-12-22-11h51m08s029Ride through Milwaukee.

vlcsnap-2019-12-22-11h48m43s648West Junction, this is open country.

vlcsnap-2019-12-22-11h56m35s271East Troy with a box motor. Survives at Illinois Railway Museum, in Union, Illinois.

vlcsnap-2019-12-22-12h00m40s464Chicago, South Shore and South Bend.  They had 80 seat coaches. 803 is a Little Joe and exists today at Illinois Railway Museum. Other freight motors were on the roster.

vlcsnap-2019-12-22-12h11m33s786The South Shore is visited from: South Bend to Chicago. The Illinois Central yards are viewed. This ICRR equipment is included.

vlcsnap-2019-12-22-12h14m12s722Rock Island commuter trains serving LaSalle Street Station make for a surprise Chapter. Action in the 1960s and ’70s.

Even more Union Station and a little Amtrak film, from the 1970s. Burlington Northern mainly. Gulf,Mobile and Ohio with The Plug!

vlcsnap-2019-12-22-12h27m40s985lIlinois Terminal had Interurban service.

vlcsnap-2019-12-22-13h10m17s957North Shore. The last electric line featured. This one ran North to Milwaukee. Here are the well known, Electroliners. Footage from 1962 in Milwaukee. One year prior to abandon.

vlcsnap-2019-12-22-12h49m09s866The highlight of this show. Ride the North Shore Electroliner to Chicago! The sights are pointed out by Charles.

vlcsnap-2019-12-22-12h01m12s862Electric Rails is right at the top of the Charles Smiley Presents shows, on Streetcars. The plethora of clear movie film, gives this one an advantage. Riding the Electroliner, gives a viewer a more complete experience. While, one can’t go wrong with his Los Angeles or Bay Area shows. This Electric Rails of mainly Chicago… rules.

Rating: 5 Stars



CSX 7 Jacksonville to Plant City, Florida


Producer: Green Frog

Timeframe: 1990s

Locations: Jacksonville to Plant City

Length: 1 hour

Source: Rob McCormack

Volume 7 promises that, Florida shall deliver interesting CSX Railroading. This tour begins at the Northern yard. Proceeds southbound, until conclusion at Plant City.

The show has a choice of on/ off narration. No Chapter Menu, maps or on-screen graphics. There is a Chapter Search function. Bob Carrera performs the narration. Also, in CSX Special set.


A basic assortment of CSX locomotives. Second and third generation power. Almost no Pre-Merger paint. Florida plant life.


Videographer is excellent. A tendency to focus on the front ends. Much of the Florida sunshine gets bouncing around, at times. Digitally processed. Everything looks and sounds excellent!


Limited off road units are seen. This Florida East Coast GP38-2, with some NASA cars. At CSX yard at Jacksonville.


At busy Baldwin Tower. A Seaboard System rolls through the crossing.


Southern Pacific lash-ups are running off mileage. Proving the terrain is not flat.

vlcsnap-2019-12-11-20h19m14s661Here is a Tropicana Orange Juice train. Would have preferred more detail on these.

vlcsnap-2019-12-11-19h47m15s938Amtrak makes a couple of appearances.


Several night scenes are within this show.


Several brief switching scenes, are included.


A side view is good to see. This SD40 and GP38 pair.


Friendly CSX Engineer!


End up in Plant City. A map would have made much more sense of the small towns.


A Chessie System painted caboose is parked. Some local switching. Not a better view available.

CSX 7. Jacksonville to Plant City, Florida.

Meets the advertised. Not a great episode. A map would have been helpful. Script is a bit thin. A middle of the road entry. Yet, little of Florida is available. Pick it, if you like one.

Rating: 4 Stars


Conrail St. Loo to Horseshoe

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Producer: Mary McPherson

Locations: Smithboro, St. Elmo, Effingham, Horseshoe Curve…

Timeframe: 1990-94

Length: 1 hour 57 minutes

Source: George Redmond

This Heritage Series features Conrail. The former Pennsylvania St. Louis line. Southern Illinois locations. Teleports over to more interesting Allegheny Mountains. Horseshoe Curve is the main feature, on the second half.

vlcsnap-2019-12-07-12h46m03s801George Redmond had hundreds of hours of video footage. Good camera skills. A key source for specialized interests. If early to mid 1990s fits your bag. Even if you just like Horseshoe Curve, and who doesn’t? This is likely, worth a look.

vlcsnap-2019-12-07-13h13m03s112A single DVD-R. Slimline case. Better than average, a highly detailed Chapter Menu. No maps, which are not needed. Plenty of on-screen graphics.

vlcsnap-2019-12-07-13h56m20s252Natural, Enviornmental audio soundtrack. Good levels. Plenty of space, to hear the locomotives working. Mary McPherson performs the sparse narrative.

vlcsnap-2019-12-07-12h28m20s871Smithboro, Il, is at a crossing, with the Burlington Northern in 1990.

vlcsnap-2019-12-07-12h54m40s177St. Elmo, is a Conrail interchange point. Road traffic moves through, as well.

vlcsnap-2019-12-07-12h40m19s281Symbol KVPI comes off the Union Pacific Rails. Going to Pittsburgh from Kingsville, Texas.

vlcsnap-2019-12-07-12h57m20s067NYDAZ at St Elmo with 6727 over to Union Pacific. New York to Dallas.

vlcsnap-2019-12-07-13h17m33s640Effingham is a traditional Illinois hotspot. Illinois Central and Pennsylvania original railroads.

vlcsnap-2019-12-07-13h26m13s258Winter of 93 at Effingham. Station is at left.

vlcsnap-2019-12-07-12h42m46s458A look at some boxcars. Going to St. Louis.

vlcsnap-2019-12-07-13h34m06s478A C30-7 is paced East of Teutopolis.


vlcsnap-2019-12-07-13h36m19s951Altoona at Alto Tower is next! Year is 1994.

vlcsnap-2019-12-07-13h40m10s882Arrival at Horseshoe Curve! High expectations, for this world famous location. A word of wisdom. To avoid disappointment in all things, keep expectations low.

vlcsnap-2019-12-07-13h48m18s187There are a few issues, with this lengthy chapter. Murphy’s law seemed to be in effect. First, some issues could have been minimized, via editing. Simply, eliminating some of the problems. Amtrak Broadway Limited is seen. Also, a rare Roadrailer.

vlcsnap-2019-12-07-13h48m54s842No one is God. Weather is sometimes not conducive to shooting outdoor video. If one chooses to record, the producer may edit. A little rain or fog is usually acceptable. People travel long and far. 

vlcsnap-2019-12-07-13h57m48s348 A viewer should not have to suffer eye strain for 15 or 20 minutes. Unreasonable! Put it in a bonus section, if one doesn’t have the strength to cut it out.

vlcsnap-2019-12-07-14h35m00s097Another issue here is a super annoying workman. Now, he is merely doing his work. Unfortunately, it is in direct conflict, with enjoyable listening, at Horseshoe Curve. What is the offense? A loud weedwacker! Fairly close to the video camera. The microphone picks it up efficiently. Here, the producer could have deleted these audio sections, in favor of anything else.

vlcsnap-2019-12-07-14h43m23s489So, the total is: foggy and rainy, or plenty of weedwacker noise. The Conrail trains are out in force. It could have been presented better. Hence, Amateur level reality.

vlcsnap-2019-12-07-13h46m27s695The Illinois half of the show is consistent, with most of the George Redmond videos. It does have a better overall appearance. The Horseshoe Curve with it’s issues, are the decision maker for this release. Despite the technical issues, it is still has, solid Conrail action. If that floats your boat. You should be fairly satisfied.

Rating: 3 Stars



New Jersey Transit Push – Pull


Producer: Neff Video

Timeframe: 1980s

Locations: Long Branch, Ashbury Park, more

Length: 1 hour

Source: Neff

A non-narrated effort by Neff Video. New Jersey Transit Push Pull. Contemporary, New York and Long Branch line. Viewers can look, but will not hear anything about the operation. Except, the environmental sounds.


These types of shows are extremely outdated. Station signage and on-screen graphics. A rather primitive approach.


Coming to this show, with very little knowledge of NJ Transit. It is the Producer’s responsibility to educate the viewer. At least, for the best possible experience. This presentation fails in this area. I get no pleasure in this. Nor does the lack of a narrative, provide any enjoyment.

This is one of the most boring shows.


Evidently, the station at Long Beach is a new one. No prior history is given.


Seems a couple of original shows were merged, for a DVD release. Title screens, list Part 1 and a separate Part 2. Both begin at Long Branch Station.

Most of the Videography is fine. Audio is adequate. Some strange background noise at high levels, at Long Branch. Traffic noise or generators. Should have been leveled.

Didn’t waste my time on the big screen. Looked good on the laptop. Nothing weird.

vlcsnap-2019-11-03-14h15m41s883The opposite end of a Push-Pull.

vlcsnap-2019-11-03-14h49m12s395Part 2 features an electrified line. No explanation is offered.vlcsnap-2019-11-03-15h02m56s383Numerous shots, are from across parking lots. Perhaps, tight clearances. Pretty ugly.


Bay Shore is the end of the line.

This show is also available in, Trains around New York and New Jersey. A Green Frog set.

vlcsnap-2019-11-03-14h04m45s545An unsatisfactory, non- narrated show. Hold your ticket. Plenty of other shows.

Rating: 2 Stars