Southern Pacific's Sierra Crossing Donner Pass - the name evokes daunting obstacles with good reason. Steep grades and seven months a year of winter weather put a railroad's resources to the test. Yet the need to transport goods over the Sierras produces a nonstop parade of trains over this famous line, and that was especially true in 1988 when Video Rails captured incredible Southern Pacific action over Donner Pass.
Starting at the classification yards in Roseville, California, you'll follow Southern Pacific's trains up and over "The Hill." SP's 6-axle SD40s, SD40T-2s, SD45s, and SD45T-2 tackle 138 miles of up to 2.4 percent grades. Up to 11 units are needed for the climb. The standard arrangement for these 10,000-ton trains is 4 by 6, with four engines leading and 6 mid-train helpers, but you'll also see long trains with six units leading, six mid-train helpers, and an end-of-train helper. Cabooses are also seen in use here. At Colfax, you'll see helpers being added to the front and rear of the trains. This is also a stopping point for Amtrak's twice-daily California Zephyr, several of which are seen with private cars trailing. You'll follow these trains to Alta, Blue Canyon, Emigrant Gap, Yuba Gap, Cisco, Norden and the "Big Hole," a 2-mile long tunnel that runs directly under Donner Pass.
Special highlights of this show include rare films of the line's construction, footage of the trapped City of San Francisco Train 101 at Yuba Pass in 1952, snow fighting equipment with steam powered rotaries pushed by Cab Forwards and other steam power, and chilling views of 1980s railroading through winter blizzards. The scenery is spectacular and the railroading is as intense as it gets when Southern Pacific tackles Donner Pass!
DVD Special Feature:
* Chapter Menus provides instant access to program segments.
1 Hour In Color with Stereo Sound and Narration Full-screen (4x3) Format No region code; can be played in any NTSC DVD player worldwide Packaged in Sturdy Vinyl Clamshell Case ISBN: 1-56342-225-5 UPC: 7-48268-00508-z Produced by Video Rails 1988. Released on DVD by Pentrex 2007
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1 Hour, 00 Mins
0 Worldwide NTSC
VideoRailsFan on 2009-12-25 10:40:14.
People who found this review helpful: 2
4 of 5
Video Rails documented Donner Pass action in 1988 and did a very good job. Trains with 4 to 6 helpers are common in the high Sierras. I especially enjoyed the old film about the construction of the Central Pacific and scenes of old snow removal equipment. Flangers, spreaders, and rotary snowplows are shown somewhere between the late 1940's and early 1950's. A superb addition to this DVD is the vintage footage of the snowbound "City of San Francisco" in 1952. Also included is a chart showing the record snowfall during the winter of 1951-1952. Modern winter scenes are documented as well. I enjoy watching this DVD every time. I highly recommend it to everyone, from railfans to families.
Additional remarks by VideoRailsFan: Narration:Just enough. Would kids enjoy this?Yes. Image quality:Good. DVD Value:Good Value Recommend to others?Definitely.
The images are slightly dated having been captured in 1988 so the videography is not up to modern standards. The area covered is very historic and steeped in railroad lore. Shot by Video Rails and not up to Pentrex quality e.g. one scene was shot into the sun so all the engines were in shadow when they passed. Pentrex did a good job on the narration like always.
Additional remarks by trackside: Narration:Just enough. Would kids enjoy this?I doubt it. Image quality:Good. DVD Value:Seemed a little high, but not too bad. Recommend to others?Not unless they REALLY were interested in the subject matter.
Your comments about this videos are completely useless. Of course the DVD is dated. What do you expect a movie captured long ago to be like? Bad light in one scene? I need both my hand and my feet to count how many bad light scenes I watched on Pentrex shows. Seriously... this review is a complete joke!
OldTrainGuy (Huntsville, AL) on 2011-03-30 13:56:30.
5 of 5
I love the Donner Pass area so any video of the area is interesting to me. This video gives a good explanation of the process of building the trains and engines to travel over the mountains. The photography is excellent. I wish it was in HD.
Additional remarks by OldTrainGuy: Narration:Just enough. Would kids enjoy this?Maybe. Image quality:Good. DVD Value:Good Value Recommend to others?Not unless they REALLY were interested in the subject matter.
Since I worked for the SP back in the 50's, I have always have had a soft heart for the Southern Pacific. I am very familiar with Donner Pass so seeing this, it brought back memories. I thought video was excellent and certainly showed the feeling of operating on "The Hill"
Additional remarks by Bruce McLean: Narration:Just enough. Would kids enjoy this?I doubt it. Image quality:Excellent! DVD Value:Excellent Value! Recommend to others?Definitely.