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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F-Units on the Nanticoke: CN 9100’s

F-Units on the Nanticoke: CN 9100’sNanticoke

Green Frog / Canrail

3 DVD Set

Length: 3.2 Hours

Time Period: 1986

Locations: Hamilton to Nanticoke

Source: Rob McCormack

MSRP: 40.00

Green Frog has this extensive set, which feature vintage, rebuilt F7 units. The year is 1986. Canadian National had reassigned the venerable F7 Units to the steel train job at Hamilton. They are in ABA configuration. Specialized flatcars and gondolas haul the steel. The Canrail video crew spent 6 weeks recording the activity.

9169Trackside. (DVD 1)

9173Canadian National 9173 is the star of the show. This unit is the one that viewers will ride.

The first DVD contains a one hour film. This is not narrated.Graphics list locations. A map is needed. Without a map, there is no frame of reference. Appears to operate as an empties/ loads cycle. Basic service to a steel plant. Viewers will see various industrial steel products. .

grand river bridge1Videography is competent. Editing is smooth. Audio is environmental sound. Whatever the microphone picked up, is what we hear. Content is like watching raw video, with good edits.

caledoniaThe Trackside disc plays fine. Keep in mind, there is no narration. Would have enjoyed hearing this story. Oh well, at least hearing the normally aspirated power is a treat!

Covered Wagons Cab ride Part 1 : Hamilton to Hagersville.

hamilton                                  The train originates for this show at a CN yard.

street run                     Street running on the CN train. The cab is busy and noisy.

engineer                                       Canadian National Engineer is Ross Pearce.

woodsA basic cab ride on this branchline. Unique, as this was an actual working, revenue service F7 unit. Most other F unit rides are on museums or excursions. The radio communication and train orders add an extra bit of action. This is a fine way to experience an F7 unit.

Part 2: Hagersville to Nanticoke and Return to Caledonia

gate                                   Train 725 goes to the Stelco plant and picks up steel.

pearcePart 2 has more content of watching the engineer at work. The radio crackles as Joe communicates with the dispatchers and train crew.

riverAs the freight travels back, we see some now familiar sights. Grand River Bridge.

lakeThe camera gets bouncing on this segment. Likely rough trackage. Generally, it is best edited out. For historical value and completeness, well… hit the fast forward button.

roadF Units on the Nanticoke provides a trip back in time aboard CN 9173. The 2 part cab ride is the main feature. That is over 2 hours in an operating F7. Add to the fact, this is on a Class One railroad in 1986. A rare type of show.

mixedA Canadian National caboose (van in CN terminology) is at both ends of these trains. Though not stated, the ABA sets are probably run around the train, to always lead.

The Trackside footage is satisfactory. Seeing the vintage locomotives working is good. This one is screaming for a narrative. Green Frog usually has great scripts. Seems to be a Canrail production issue. Still, the trains are seen with a steady camera.

This is a fine set to have. On the whole, it has a workman like quality. Appeal is best directed to the hardcore railfan. Casual viewers will be left bassically clueless, without a narrative. Canadians should love it. True railfans will appreciate the historical aspect of the package.

Rating: 4 Stars

Today’s Illinois Central: South Volume 2

Today’s Illinois Central: South Volume 2cvr

Pentrex

Length: One hour 39 minutes

Time Period: 1996

Locations: Fulton, KY to New Orleans

MSRP: 29.95

A continuation of a grand tour of Illinois Central. This volume covers the southern portion of Illinois Central Railroad. Pentrex has another volume for the northern half. Both shows are professionally produced. South contains 552 route miles. This is the downsized, core version of Illinois Central.

Volume 2 utilizes the same formula as the prior show. There is improved videography here. Better composition and smoother lens work. Perhaps, minor differences to the average viewer. Worth a mention for those who care, or may just want to try a single show. There are a number of interesting sidebars of local character as we are down South.

3131 gp40Picking up where we left off on Volume 1. The program begins at Fulton, Kentucky. Again a quick geography lesson is presented. Basic maps give perspective to the route, and division points. An intelligent way to setup the remainder of the film.

wc handyAt Tutwiler, Mississippi. The camera rolls around to see local sights. Some of this is out of the ordinary and even off-topic. Apparently, the crew became bored in these remote locations. Turns out the many sidebars and historical elements create some interest.

At least the mural relates a train related story. W.C. Handy was a famous musician. In 1903 waited for a train here and heard sounds from an unknown musician. The idea stuck with Handy and is what became Blues music. Famous Blues great, Sonny Boy Williamson is buried down the road. This scene is a nice interlude.

woodchip loaderOne for the model railroaders. A woodchip loader operation is discussed.

amtrak 59                                           Amtrak trains frequent the show.

hazelhurstPulpwood cars are loaded further down the route. A variety of trains and traffic move on these busy rails.

meet           The Chemical Coast does a large amount of revenue for the railroad.

three                  Hotshot intermodal trains move between Chicago and New Orleans.

fredThere are a handful of scenes with a caboose. A FRED is more representative of 1996.

The story ends at New Orleans. Ride a ferryboat and learn even more railroad history to the very end.

Today’s Illinois Central: South Volume 2. An interesting narrative elevates this volume above the first one. Combined with better videography, make this the one to have.

Rating: 4 Stars

Santa Fe Combo: Heartland/ Merger

Santa Fe Combo: Across the Heartland / Countdown to Mergerpentrex

Pentrex

Length: 2 hours and 49 minutes

Time Period: 1995

Locations: Chicago to Kansas City

MSRP: 29.95

Pentrex has a double feature with 2 full programs. Each show reviewed individually here.

Across the Heartland – Santa Fe’s Chillicothe Subdivision

Length: 84 minutes

Locations: Chicago to Ft. Madison, Iowa

Two weeks prior to the 1995 BNSF merger. Pentrex began to film Santa Fe from Corwith Yard to end of the subdivision. Follow the route from Chicago to Fort Madison, Iowa. A companion show with the Marceline sub, is included on this double feature.

chpxCorwith Yard and a tower visit to start the tour. A hotshot departs on former ICG trackage. Encounter additional railroads including: Amtrak, Conrail and Indiana Harbor Belt.

Special attention is given to each train designation. Symbol freights such as Q-trains and numbered priorities. Manifest freights, Amtrak and other train movemens. Very informative.

Featured locations. McCook, Willow Springs, Steator, Galesburg, Chillicothe, Edelstein Hill and more.

These 2 shows were filmed in September, 1995. They are essentially a two part series. Same characteristics and no need to duplicate here. See more details below.

geepsMany earlier diesels are still in use. By this time, they are rebuilds. That includes: GP9, GP20,GP30, GP35 and more. Superfleet red and silver locos are abundant.

miss bridgeCrossing the Mississippi River on this long bridge. This concludes this show.

 

Countdown to Merger – Santa Fe’s Marceline Subdivision

Length: 85 minutes

Locations: Fort Madison to Kansas City

Santa Fe Railway was filmed one week before the 1995 merger with Burlington Northern. Pentrex chose the remote Marceline subdivision. This lonely route is an uncommon location for railfan films of Santa Fe. The countdown is a week until merger day. The Pentrex crew documents the final week on this release.

214This was a good time to film Santa Fe. Superfleet locomotives are in full swing. Blue and Yellow warbonnets are still plentiful. Freight cars have not yet been ruined by graffiti punks. This is near the end of railroading that has anything interesting.

6410High quality is a hallmark of Pentrex. They are among the best in train videos. All the elements of an excellent show are present. Everything is thought out. They really ‘get it done’.

sfWhile the 1990’s were less interesting for watching trains. Santa Fe created a buzz with a revival of the classic red and silver warbonnet livery. Not since the days of the Super Chief and shiny F7 locomotives was this scheme prevalent. Of all the locomotive paint schemes, this one could be number 1 for all time. Rival Union Pacific, maybe the only real challenger (no pun intended). UP is still around!

main map                                Maps are useful. Basic reference points get it done.

Now, if the year isn’t that great for trainwatching. How do they maintain interest? The answer is a good, informative narrative. This makes dull TOFC, COFC, and unit trains bearable.

q nylaTraffic is identified, via graphics and narration. The announcer gives in depth detail of route and commodities. Every train assignment and function adds interest.

The weather deteriorates into rain and clouds. The show must go on. Seems like they hurry to finish.  We travel to Kansas City for conclusion. Goodbye Santa Fe. Welcome BNSF.

station

Henrietta Station. The Santa Fe logo in concrete. Some things remain the same.

Pentrex has done a nice job of documenting the final days of the Santa Fe. Viewers will see the line from Chicago to Kansas City. They make the most of the railroad scene of the time. The wide assortment of locomotives will satisfy railfans. Nice pair of programs.

Rating: 4 Stars

New England Steam: Six Main Lines

New England Steam: Six Main Lines NE6ML

Sunday River Productions

Length: 47 minutes

Time Period: 1930’s to 1950’s.

Locations: New England

Sources: Albert Hale, John Trolley, Charlie Brown

MSRP: 34.95

Intriguing collection of six steam railroads in New England. These films are  rare. A desirable assortment from black and white sources, to see featured in a show. Sunday River has each road with its own chapter. A promising lineup of vintage trains. The authentic steam audio is up front and adds extra energy. At least a third of the films are from the 1950’s. Check the automobiles and the freight cars themselves. Let’s take a look.

new haven main                                New Haven storms past, with a mainline freight train.

c5400CP 5400 is chased and receives a nice pan shot. There is plenty of fine cinematography.

Alva Morrison Sr. has brief narrative sections. He was an early producer of train films. Seems that some of these films are within this series of film shorts. The sparse narration of some parts, maybe where a viewer may want more information. On screen descriptions are used at times and they suffice.

cv millers fallsSome scenes have train sounds. Additional scenes use Classical music for background and transitions. You will usually have a good idea of location or area. Sometimes, train station signs are used for locations. A classic method used by old movie-makers. This 2013 release is focused on the trains. The trainwatching segments are augmented by a lively soundtrack of steam sounds. Kids will love it. Adults as well, those pieces are just plain fun!

This show was updated in 2013. Quality is very good. The later period footage is cleaner. Care has been taken in the overall production.

Canadian Pacific and Quebec Central. The trains move on both sides of the border. At least some of this is vintage 1950’s. A variety of trains are shown. Matter of fact, CP, GT and CV were among railroads that ran steam well into the 1950’s.

cp_136Canadian Pacific 4-4-0 #136 reverses and departs with a one car passenger move.

cp1Mixed trains contain a glimpse into life before the automobile, truck and freeway took over.

bar                                          Each of the railroads receive a vintage style map.

bar caribouThe Bangor and Aroostook in Winter. Ride a train in Maine. Some rough edits in this chapter.

rutland bf Rutland Green Mountain Flyer at Bennington Falls. Alva informs of the cheese car tacked onto the end of this premier train.

Central Vermont Railway appears to be one of the Alva Morrison original films. This entry has full and informative narration. The 2-8-0 Consolidations are co-star of the chapter.

cv s royalton Mountain type- 600 class locomotives are the other co-star on this 12 minute chapter. Note the 50’s pickup truck at South Royalton. This CV chapter feels the most complete of the collection.

cv 700 classAlso, Texas type- 700 class power was New England’s largest steam at the time. There is a good chunk of history in this Central Vermont film.

gt ip dh                     Grand Trunk frequently operated doubleheaders from Island Pond.

gt island pondA variety of GT action is shown. Grand Trunk also runs into the 1950’s. Notice the Alco RS3 diesel in a scene and a 1955 Chevy elsewhere.  It’s all worthy and still great viewing.

new haven hudsonNew Haven. The streamlined I-5 Hudson is a locomotive highlight. Check the script on the tender logo! Additionally, the last 3 cylinder locomotives in service are highlighted.

new haven i5 hudsonA rare surprise is a display of the brand new Hudson I-5 at New Haven. Take a quick ride on this special excursion to Poughkeepsie. The last one Baldwin manufactured #1409 was in 1937. The Comet passes by in another scene. Quite a bit is seen in this brief chapter.

gt cn cabooseThis scene is a Grand Trunk freight with Canadian National caboose. Brings back fond memories of train watching with my little brother. Although our  time was 30 years later, it was just as enjoyable. The image is simply… timeless.

New England Steam: Six Main Lines is a unique release from Sunday River. The combination of films results in a fascinating visit to the steam era. Perfect gift for the man with everything. Historical interest and plenty of action, for the entire family. Excellent show!

Rating: 4 Stars