Steam Over Tennessee Pass

Steam Over Tennessee Pass cover


Length: 90 minutes

Time Period: 1997

Locations: Royal Gorge, Soldier Summit, Glenwood Canyon

MSRP: 29.95


UP 844 stars in what is now an older excursion video. A three day trip is featured here. Takes place in Colorado during 1997. Denver to Salt Lake City is the route.

Steve Lee is one of the engineers present. He ran the railroad steam program. A trio of Electromotive E8 locomotives run behind the big Northern. Matching passenger cars form a long train. This was rare track age for a passenger special.

summit tp

Pentrex employed five camera crews for the trip. The choice of multiple shots results in high quality viewing. The full narrative is informative, though not very engaging. Live sound rounds out the audio. Some very simple maps are useful to envision the route. On-screen graphics contain additional location information.

map day 2

Basic maps lack detail. They do illustrate the lines traveled.

royal gorge

Day 1 begins at Denver Union Station. Favorable weather conditions.

red cliff

Day 2 has the best of the scenic locations. Leaving Colorado Springs the train journeys towards Royal Gorge. Salida to Tennessee Pass are on the agenda. Minturn is another renowned area.


Day 3 is Grand Jct, to Salt Lake City. Soldier Summit is the highlight, as the train crosses Utah.


Effective intermingling of onboard train camera gives a feel of riding this special.

too far

One shortcoming is too much distance on some scenic shots. In fairness, the scope of the geography sometimes precludes this. There are too many far views of the train.

The glut of 844 centered shows can make the locations a deciding factor to purchase. Colorado has some spectacular scenery. Fans of 844 should be satisfied with this program.

Rating: 4 Stars


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.


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.


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.


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

Union Pacific Scrapbook

Union Pacific Scrapbookd130

Charles Smiley Presents

Length: 1 hour 40 minutes + previews

Time Period: 1950’s- 1996

Locations: Tehachapi Loop, Coast Line, Chicago, Laramie, Cajon Pass, Afton Pass and more…

Sources: Mark Johnson, Gino Pagliaro, Charles Smiley- video. Ten movie film sources.

MSRP: 29.50

Union Pacific Expansion Years is the fitting subtitle for this show. Scrapbook shows feature assorted films from multiple years and locations. A focus on the growth of this railroad includes the fit of additions to UP goals and operations.  Providing action of vintage and modern railroading. Plus, plenty of good old fashioned trainwatching! This release explores Union Pacific in this fashion.

3474High quality is a hallmark of Charles Smiley productions. Notice how the diesel sounds are matched to the locomotive. Digital film processing gives fine picture standards.

1955Featuring highly interesting and informative narration. Charles gives the audience a plethora of historical backgrounds. Passenger service is one of those discussions.

portlandPerfect scene for model railroaders to recreate in miniature. Charles is an accomplished  model railroader as well. This authentic yard is at Portland, Oregon. Check the ATVR links to visit Charles recreation of Southern Pacific in HO scale!

3119Intriguing storyteller, the Rio Grande is one of the show within shows.

oldupFrequent and varied, multiple custom maps put the routes and locations in perspective. Thorough map coverage has system type maps for roads merged into UP, such as: Southern Pacific, Rio Grande, Missouri Pacific and Chicago Northwestern. Close up maps like Cajon Pass, are another welcome inclusion.

cnw6819Chicago was a key gateway, that had been long coveted for a direct connection. While joint CNW-UP power and cabooses could be seen for years in the area. It wasn’t until CNW was absorbed in 1995 … and that is explained in detail.


tucson                                       Outside of Tucson, Arizona in the 1990’s.

1996spSharp video from 1996 documents trains in the Tehacapi Loop vicinity.

ti1t                                            Classic shot at Tehachapi Loop.

aftonUnusual locations set this apart from many modern train videos of UP. Exhilarating cinematography, that is far ahead of crossing gate scenes of many others. Afton Canyon is a must see.

1965m.That 1965 Ford Mustang is a match for the year of this street running local.

Union Pacific Scrapbook is an excellent show for railfans and model railroaders. The vintage portions are a smaller percentage in this release. Get Union Pacific Vintage West first, if you want many classic trains. Consider this one as a look at Union Pacific in the mid 1990’s. That will be great for those who are seeking double stacks and third generation locomotives. The modern slant is not my particular preference.

Any fan of this contemporary era of railroading, will be very happy with this program.

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Union Pacific Vintage West

Union Pacific Vintage WestD-120

Charles Smiley Presents

Factory pressed DVD

Length: One Hour 38 minutes

Time Period: 1860’s – 1990’s

Locations: Everywhere

Sources: 14 Cameramen

MSRP: 28.50

Union Pacific Railroad may have had the ultimate assortment of diesel power during the 1960’s. Many served throughout the 1970’s. Ask any railfan who had the biggest diesel power, and they will answer UP. If you weren’t an eyewitness to that classic era, here is your chance.

Charles Smiley has given us a mega supply of these trains. All vintage, no modern, restored substitutions. As we expect, there is a treasure trove of information to gain. Historical, insider knowledge and ‘ what if ‘ scenarios. Comprehensive coverage of the many rare engine types.

cajon1955These GP9 engines are shown in 1955. Films range from the 1940’s into the 1990’s.

dd35a1DD35’s are more commonly seen, then would be expected. The dual GP35 model provides plenty of power. The focus is on the 1960 to 1980 period. That twenty years is the era you want. First and second generation power. All of the custom locomotives that UP was operating. This show is action packed.

dd35bUP ordered various cabless B units, such as the DD35B. Additionally: GP9B, SD24B and GP30B types were on the roster. Most of the competition did not order any cabless models, in the post F-unit years.

907Sourcing color film from 14 different cinematographers and one videographer, the many facets of Union Pacific are deftly woven together in a cohesive, all encompassing story.

turbine                          Two versions of turbines and their lifespan are covered.

As with the rest of the Charles Smiley catalog, high quality is assured. Film sources are generally in the very good to excellent range. Review space only allows a brief look into this encyclopedic presentation. The narrative alone is a goldmine.

u50In a show packed with rarities, a huge GE U50 is on the lead.

dd35                                       We Cab Handle It………………. We Know !

Audio tracks are synced to match the locomotives that are on the screen. Not everyone does this, and the difference is noticeable. He has a genuine enthusiasm for the subjects. Viewers receive a lively narrative. Strict attention to every detail, leaves the audience very aware of the action.

siskUP on SP rails. The Harriman era signals are still in use here and visible in the background.

Early history and the long lasting effects of E.H. Harriman’s management, are delved into thoroughly. Intertwining of SP and UP are one example.


Custom, labor intensive maps are the best in the business. A multitude of maps display various points of UP evolution. A nice touch, the multiple merger partners or possible partners are also individually shown. Missouri Pacific added much to Union Pacific.

f3                                   Hard to imagine, the F3 as mainline power.

gp30Power such as this GP30 seem rather tame, in comparison to the behemoths.

riInclusion of numerous connecting railroads add even more interest to the program. Sure, some of that footage may overlap from another show. Keep in mind, not everyone may have all of his titles. The extra footage is always welcome. It is needed to tell the stories. A side order of : Santa Fe, Burlington Northern, Milwaukee Road and Rock Island are starters here. There are many more.

wpbnWestern Pacific and some of the operations under UP are reviewed. Earlier in the timeline, BN and WP had joined forces on the Inside Gateway. Viewers will hear about BN as well.

6918Centennial models were numbered in the 6900 series. DD40AX were designed exclusively for UP. They introduced new features that Electromotive would include in future models.

sd24Identification issues are solved in some scenes such as above,

939A Conductor is in charge of a train. Watch closely at his movements. Checks his watch and he is telling the Engineer a few things.

cabThere is much more within this fine program. Demo units, a bit of steam, trolley and electrics. A bunch of surprises. This show is one stop shopping, for classic Union Pacific.

e9The timeframe continues right into the contemporary era.

Union Pacific Vintage West is simply- Epic !

Rating: 5 stars

Missouri Kansas Texas

Missouri Kansas Texas mkt


Length: One Hour

Time Period: 1988

Locations: Fort Worth, Kansas City, La Grange, Galveston, Denison, Parsons, Tower 55

Source: Pentrex

MSRP: 29.95

Missouri – Kansas – Texas is often referred to as The Katy. This railroad was to be absorbed into the mighty Union Pacific. The year was 1988. Pentrex filmed MKT operations over a period of several months. Operations are the main focus. Trains are chased over several lines. Street running and pacing sequences. The late 1980’s were the twilight for mainline caboose service across America.


High quality cinematography, is the standard expected from Pentrex. The film looks pro shot. Audio is bright and clear. DVD 2010 issue of an older videotape title. No maps are used.


The show is narrated and a few non narrated action segments. The script is definitely on the basic side. Not bad, though it doesn’t really match the levels of the film and audio.

368Obviously, the railroad is in it’s final stage. The green and yellow livery appears in two versions. Majority of the power has the locomotive numbers on the cab. Alternatively, numbers on the long hood. Weathering on those units, make it difficult to discern chevrons on the upper  cab sections. Caboose fleet has a raunchy appearance.


LaGrangeLa Grange, Texas has this train engaged in street running.

By this time, the roster is standardized to Electromotive power. SD40’s are the prime road locomotive. GP38, GP39 and GP40 engines are often seen. Rarities include an F7 conversion slug, F7A rebuilt slug and Alco RS3m.

mkt 143 rs3mMKT 143 is a repowered Alco RS3. The EMD long hood is of the GP9 variety. Katy was big on EMD rebuilds of Alco power. So, 143 is actually an RS3m or similar designation. An example of the lack of detail present in the narrative. Still, a nice find in 1988.

rrRed River Bridge is a hotspot. Trains from BN and UP also travel over this line.


Missouri Pacific 5055. Canary scheme, lettered in Union Pacific livery.

cabooseMissouri Kansas Texas is presented in nice color. The narrative is the weak spot. Would have liked to see more of lineside structures and yards. Railfans will find this a satisfactory visit to this bygone line. Horn blowing is almost too frequent, but kids will like it. Model railroaders have clear views of equipment. A solid show of MKT.

Rating: 4 Stars