Today’s Chicago Railroads

TCR-DVD

Producer: Pentrex

Timeframe: 1991

Locations: Many

Length: 2 hours

Do you like variety? Chicago provides the Motherlode! This guided tour, of Chicago and vicinity, will satisfy most any Railfan. Fallen flags, local lines and pre- merger roads. Many old Towers are shown.

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Pentrex maximized their time in the field. Concentrating on classic hotspots. Crossings, Yards, Towers are generally, multi- Railroad locations. Busy mainlines, can provide ample supply. Frequent trains are practically a lock.

All the best of the Pentrex production team results in a smooth and well paced program.

Familiar voice of David Drui performs the informative and balanced narrative.

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There is a detailed, Chapter Menu. A master map, with nearly 2 dozen locations. Many close-up maps, as needed. Highly organized.

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Pentrex states that they only have room to hit the highlights of what they have. Likewise with my review. There is so much more to see!

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As the sign says. To The Trains…

Alco C424 of Chicago Belt Railway.

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Best place to begin the tour. Is the center of the city. That is Union Station. Full visit. visit. Amtrak’s yard is plentiful. Burlington Northern commuters run behind the E9 locomotives, as well.

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State Line Tower is far south. Norfolk Southern and CSX. Illinois – Indiana line.

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Speaking of towers. Van Loon Tower, is located in Indiana. Elgin, Joliet & Eastern with an SD40, in fresh paint. Norfolk Southern intersects here. I-80 is above.

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Blue Island has always been one of the best hotspots. Many roads move through here.

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Chessie System, now CSX, with a long lash-up of light locomotives. Barr Yard is nearby, not visited. Blue Island action.

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Dolton Jct. is very popular now. Easy to access, for railfans. CSX, Conrail and more.

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More.. A grimy Missouri Pacific pair, trundle through Dolton.

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McCook Crossing, features the busy Santa Fe Mainline. Multiple ATSF, trains passby. Willow Springs is next. Pre UPS days there.

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The details of the trackage at McCook. Everyone seemed to exercise trackage rights, on the Indiana Harbor Belt!

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Old, beater CNW geeps are seen here.

Grand Trunk , Chessie, IHB, Amtrak too.

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WICT F units at Edgewood are a rare sight! Wisconsin and Calumet. Later, became part of Wisconsin and Southern. The road was called Wicket, for short.

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A Soo Line switch job receives a detailed chase. A low speed one. Street running at Goose Island. A truncated version is on Street Running by Pentrex.

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The Burlington Northern Racetrack is a must see on any Chicago visit.

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BN executive F units appear at Clyde yard in Cicero. You never know what shows up!

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Hawthorne yard, has Belt Tower . This is visited inside. A former Illinois Central structure. Chicago Central was here. This structure, is gone now.

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Brighton Park has a full – on stop. Rare, a Switchtender with a shanty. A GT transfer caboose, hits the diamonds.

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Illinois Central SW14s on their ex: GM&O trackage. Note the unusual, hip cab roofs.

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CR 5032 is next to get the wave at Brighton.

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Bensenville is now a Soo Line stronghold. The former Milwaukee Road facilities are huge. A freshly painted SD40 powers a hot Soo Sprint train past B-17 tower.

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The engine house and Bensenville yard run right along a public road.

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Grand Trunk near Hayford Junction.

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Hegewisch still has electric interurban service. Chicago South Shore Line.

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Chicago and Northwestern, has a major line in a Westerly direction, from Proviso Yard. Union Pacific run through units are common. Metra is the local commuter service. Proviso Yard, is not seen in this show.

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Chicago Short Line is another rare find.

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Many of the trains, still employ a caboose. The Indiana Harbor Belt used these home built transfer ones for many years.

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Pentrex has knocked it out of the park. A home run! An instant classic. This show will give viewers a high rerun value. There is simply, an astounding amount of various, and interesting trains. Outstanding videography, that hits the mark!

Rating: 5 Stars

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Street Running

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Producer: Pentrex

Timeframe: 1990- 2000s

Locations: 22 USA

Length: 1 hour 44 minutes

Street running, is a highlight on most any train program. The image is a powerful one. Class ones to shortlines. Pentrex has this compilation, from nearly two dozen USA locations.

A detailed Chapter Menu provides easy access to the choice spots. Bonus Material consists of Pentrex previews. Audio has the selection of either: On/ Off. That is for narration.

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David Drui is our familiar narrator. Smooth as glass. Tight script. All production aspects, are the usual high quality of Pentrex.

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Of note, several locations were filmed without a train. Would have liked to have seen Fort Collins, Colorado. However, they do mention a few misses at the end, including that one.

So, it  is good that Pentrex went to their vaults. Created added interest to this program. Smart move. There is plenty to see.

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Everything is separated. Billboarded, if watching it through. Available by chapter, as well. This show is jam packed!

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Time to hit some highlights. Checkout some of the many viewpoints on tap. Let’s see what’s going on, in the streets…

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LaGrange, Kentucky. CSX line. There is frequently, a train per hour here.

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Augusta, Georgia. Norfolk Southern 9003. Trains through historical district.

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Erie, PA. Canadian Pacific. Unique nowadays,  are the Crossing guard shanties.

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Oakland California. Rare, double-track street. Amtrak, is an Amtrak West  operation. According to Pentrex. Freight action is also shown at ground level.

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Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad. York, Pennsylvania. Blink twice and you will miss, this former Santa Fe CF7 rebuild unit.

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New Albany, Indiana. Canadian Pacific AC4400. This freight on CSX, is using authority from former Soo Line. This is old Monon, to Louisville route trackage. Action!

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Albany, Georgia. Norfolk Southern 3177, on ex: Central of Georgia trackage. Long hood forward built locomotive.

Columbus, GA. Another no trains.

Frederick, Maryland. Track is disconnected. They probably had to account for the trip expenses. Hence, all the zero sum screenshots. Do notice how smoothly they integrate these shots. Marietta, Ohio is the best one!

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Watsonville, California. Observe how tight street operation can be for a train. A quartet of GP40s, haul a long consist.

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Santa Cruz SP 7138. Palm trees, beaches and the Pacific Ocean! What could be better?…  Retirement! 

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Brooklyn. New York Cross Harbor Railroad. Alco S2 power. The busy switch crew is followed by the Pentrex camera. Bush Terminal vicinity. Succinct and satisifying.

Utica, NY. none. Hudson, NY. No trains.

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Chicago, Ill.  Goose Island. Soo Line, circa 1990. Check the ex: Milwaukee Road switcher, in a ‘bandit’ paint job. Have seen this footage before. So what! This fine segment fits perfectly. Tells the story. Just like, so many Charles Smiley Presents. A smart recycle. No worries!

vlcsnap-2019-04-01-10h27m32s305In the almost, but no cigar category. Amtrak Auto Train on ex: RF&P  at Ashland, Virginia. This on ballasted track, center of street. 

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San Antonio, Texas. Pearl Brewing. An electric motor connects, with Union Pacific. Texas Transportation Company.

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Chicago South Shore and South Bend. Action in Michigan City, Indiana. Electric interurban, which were born in the streets. Think about it. They should have filmed a South Shore freight train.

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Middleton, Pennsylvania. One of the last two Alco locomotives built. T6 diesel.

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Stockton, CA. Central California Traction. Not all operations filmed are daylight ones. Note the safety flare.

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St Mary’s, West Virginia. A CSX coal train, rolls by a Food Giant. Town population 2200. Took some dedication for the guys to get a daytime train.

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West Brownsville PA. is very busy for Norfolk Southern on a ex: Conrail line. Yes, this busy stretch has NS coal moves. Monongahela from the archives is better!

vlcsnap-2019-04-01-11h12m30s770Elizabeth, PA. Watch these new Electromotive built locomotives. These are former P&LE tracks. SD70MAC engines.

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Modesto, CA. Railfans choice. Former Tidewater Southern. Western Pacific. Old Mill Cafe. Ninth Street. All important to knowledgeable fans.

It is under the umbrella of Union Pacific now. The GP40 leads and obeys traffic lights. I enjoy the ,”Conductor lends a pair of eyes” about watching traffic. Look at it!

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Look at the butthead following so close! No brake lights on the coal train. Not much brain power in the car. Think about it…

Street Running

An enjoyable show. Videography is top shelf. Excellent narrative. Fine sounding audio. The brevity of each chapter, keeps the pace moving quickly. Good rerun value.

Speaking to the Pentrex comment about living next to Railroad tracks. Ever live it? Noisy, vibrates your home, and dust from those passing trains. Airhorns that blow, 24/ 7. Louder in winter too! Novelty wears off.

This program is great for everyone to see. Interesting to watch these trains. A good time for: Railfans Model Railroaders, and the whole family.

Rating: 5 Stars

Western Rails

Western_Rails-Train_DVD

Producer: Greg Scholl

Timeframe: 1994-97

Locations: CA, CO, IA, KS, NM, WY

Length: One hour

Source: Greg Scholl

A tour of various locations in the Western States. Sweeping across the Plains to California. Many railroads are viewed. Various cameos are additional. All combined into this show. Unique viewpoints on numerous shots. There are a cornucopia of scenes.

Narrator, is the familiar voice of Greg Hingsbergen. He always does a fine job.

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Natural audio on a live soundtrack. The only issues, are some loud levels on freeway traffic.

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Pro level videography. All production aspects are professional. Tight edits. A well paced program. Greg always has an appreciation for nature. A good amount for balance. No extra charge!

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A detailed Chapter Menu is included. A generous Preview section. This with a detailed Menu, as well. Split into American and Canadian preview lists.

There are minor maps. Just enough to orient the audience. Good enough.

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Kansas City Southern, in an intriguing view. Burlington, Iowa. Mississippi River.

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Santa Fe warbonnets, with Union Pacific passenger cars. Topeka, Kansas. See the show, for more details on this scene.

vlcsnap-2019-03-27-10h51m37s581There is much variety in this show. Former Rio Grande Potash branch, near Moab, Utah.

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Santa Fe Southern. Lamy, New Mexico.

vlcsnap-2019-03-27-10h39m11s606Enjoy these two for one scenes! A BNSF train waits at Dotsero, Colorado. While the Union Pacific moves up the Tennessee Pass route. Nice sequence.

vlcsnap-2019-03-27-10h36m11s013The Southwest Chief. Amtrak fans, will get serviced, more than once, in Western Rails. 

vlcsnap-2019-03-27-10h48m27s336Southern Pacific meet in Utah. May 94.

vlcsnap-2019-03-27-10h52m25s063Burlington Northern. Sheridan, Wyoming. A crew change point.

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SD70MAC engines with a long coal train.

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Columbia River Gorge. This is an extended Chapter. Burlington Northern on the one side. Georgeous area.

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Union Pacific rails on the other. One of several scenic highlights!

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California is next on the journey. Southern Pacific’s Coast Line. Trains in scenery, type of cinematography. Spectacular views here!

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Tehachapi Loop gets a brief visit in 1995. Southern Pacific with a GP60. Two pushers on the rear. Unusual, to see a GP60 lead versus SD class locomotives.

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Western Rails

An interesting compilation, that delivers on the advertised. This whirlwind tour should contain, something for everyone. A favorite Railroad, or a location. Likely, more than one. Perhaps, viewers may find new interests.

This is a fine train program. Compact and action packed! Great cinematography. Excellent for: Railfans, Model Railroaders and the family.

Rating: 5 Stars

 

 

The Blue Mountains combo Volumes 1-3

VRBLUE-DVD

Producer: Pentrex

Timeframe: 1991

Locations:Blue Mountains

Length: 3 hours

Source: Video Rails

Union Pacific Railroad. The Blue Mountains in Oregon. Tracks ranging 200 miles. A triple Volume set on a single DVD. Originally, a Video Rails release. Each program is one hour long. I figure that Pentrex combined when remastered.

Expert videography, captures the Union Pacific, in a challenging Mountainous region. Heavy trains requiring long lash-up of twelve axle diesels.

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The first pair, of shows are lightly narrated. While, this style offers more train sounds. It leaves much unanswered, about the area seen. Audio itself is of high quality. Along with the rest of this package.

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The maps are rudimentary in appearance. Although, they do suffice in the short term. Coming up as a should have, an overview map. To gain perspective of the region.

These badges are smartly done! Providing operational oriented info: that will be appealing to hardcore, and enlighten the casual viewers.

Let’s check this out. One Volume at a time.

 

Volume One

La Grande to Huntington, Oregon. Begins at the station in La Grande. Serves Amtrak.

 

vlcsnap-2019-03-23-15h48m21s450A handsome old building. One of the last remaining along this line.

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The script is the weak point. Mainly basic locations. Grades, helpers and the like.

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Video Rails does get all the visual angles.

A Lookout Mountain, this far west!

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These moves need maximum horsepower.

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Horseshoe Curve, Oregon style. Oxman Curve.

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Mid- train helpers too. Oxman Curve.

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An old plant that appears abandoned.

End up along the Snake River. Heard of it.

Summarily, this Volume One is beautifully shot. Narrative is lacking details. It rings hollow.

Volume Two

La Grande to Hinkle on the West end. Grade school level narrative continues. The train, the train…

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Westbound leaves La Grande.

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Amtrak Pioneer Zephyr passes through.

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Those Railfans who are known as UP Nuts. They will be in UP heaven. There is very little else in the power sets. An odd CNW unit now and then. A little bit more.

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Majority of Volume 2 is very similar to it’s predecessor. Greener looking terrain. Twenty thousand horsepower up front!

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Meet at the summit. GE led train has massive horsepower.

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Snow appears towards the end. Blessed relief, as some variety was needed.

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This shot puts some scale into the scenery.

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A Cab Ride is interesting as it winds into the mountains. Wide Cab does have greater visibility. A safety feature in design.

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Helper usage is obvious. Why a caboose on an occasional freight? Probably, a local.

Volume Two utilizes the same approach. Looks awesome. Talk is not so great. Onward…

Volume Three

Snow is the focus. A separate production. Fully narrated like a regular old Video Rails. An over dramatic, at times but at least we stay awake narrative. Their usual voice over man, as well.

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This trio is always centered at La Grande. I keep wanting to call it LaGrange! So much for Oregon. Middle of nowhere to me.

It takes until this third Volume, to learn that La Grande is an important location. Excellent on the specifics here.

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Exactly where narration can add personality. Historical, operational, you name it. Critical error to neglect this.

Back to it, the trains are what we came to see. Let’s have a look…

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Yes, that is the grade.

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What those double stacks look like in context. UP has a large amount of this traffic through these Mountains.

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Another passing move. Busy corridor!

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These Cotton Belt rebuild units, are in transit.

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Additional snow action.

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Narrator gets overly excited about the deteriorating weather. Nothing to it. Really? Go try Chicago, buddy!

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FYI. They act like this is Snow Service. Look up some, BA Productions for real Snow Service! The real deal. No comparison.

 

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The Blue Mountains combo Volumes 1-3.

The first two shows. Play like a pair of fantastic looking blondes. Have the visuals and not much upstairs.

The third show. Cut from a different cloth. Still has a fine appearance. Although, perhaps shot previous to the others? Narration is a big improvement. Although, it is dated in presentation. A general narrative, not getting very specific overall.

Three excellent appearing shows. High quality live audio. Scripts and research are lagging behind.

The experience of three hours, in the Blue Mountains on Union Pacific. I saw the trains, rode a few and had some fun. However, I didn’t learn much there.

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

The Joint Line

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Producer: Pentrex

Timeframe: 1990s

Locations: CO.

Length: 85 minutes

A mutually operated Colorado line. Highlights include: Denver, Castle Rock, Palmer Lake and Pueblo. Filmed over a 4 year period. The mid 90’s.

This show has four main railroads. Burlington Northern, Santa Fe, Southern Pacific and Rio Grande.

The expected Pentrex standard of excellence is here. Everything is proper and as it should be. Early map reference outlines what constitutes The Joint Line. A detailed Chapter Menu. Preview section.

Balanced and intelligent narration. It backs off, to let the viewer observe and listen to some trains. Nicely done.

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Burlington Northern is the dominant player here. Mainly due to extensive coal trains. Cascade Green fans will be very pleased.

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Santa Fe has plenty on tap. Fresh red and silver warbonnets abound! Blue and yellow scheme, too.

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Southern Pacific was releasing speed lettered repaints, on fresh rebuilds. Plus, a smattering of Cotton Belt units.

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Denver and Rio Grande Western. Now, that’s a different picture. Grimy for the most part. Road numbers are often tough to read.

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A colorful assortment of run through power. Conrail, Kansas City Southern, LMX, Norfolk Southern, Soo Line, Union Pacific and more!

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Let’s look at some Kansas City Southern. A white ghost is buried in the consist.

Pentrex delves into the long history of The Joint Line. Effective usage of old photos. They certainly go the extra mile.

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Colorado has varied scenery. This line begins with the small cityscape, of South Denver.

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Obligatory Amtrak image. Here you go.

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Onward, we take a long look around The Joint. Arid high country.

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Pretty lakeside vista at Palmer Lake.

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What a gorgeous town to watch trains.

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Surprise snowstorm encountered due to elevation.

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Coal is always a big commodity. More BN.

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Handy lesson on Pusher/ Helper service!

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An old Santa Fe bridge gets busy.

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Santa Fe ran a hot intermodal Quality train.

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Burlington Northern was highlighted with their new SD70MAC locomotives.

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Southern Pacific is shown with an old GP9. Check that Kodachrome paint!

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BN was still using a contraption called a caboose!

The Joint Line.

An exceptional visit to this scenic Colorado rail line. Nice additions, with history and a few older train moves. Expert cinematography and production.

Four classic railroads. A great area with scenery and history. This one is a no brainer.

Rating: 5 Stars