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Sam's Top Picks!

#1

Electric Rails Around The Bay D-124 Charles Smiley Presents
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Electric Rails Around The Bay D-124 Charles Smiley Presents

Electric Rails Around the Bay - Three Bay Area lines in one video. See the Sacramento Northern, SP Red Trains and the Peninsular Railway stories. This 16 mm film was shot by a variety of rail historians from 1910 to 1957. See the rail and ferry operations in the bay's early days plus the bridge operations that began the era of great change and decline. The Sacramento Northern section covers passenger and some great freight action in the south-end. See the Oakland hills and street running plus Contra Costa county out to the Ferry ...more

Sam's Comments:

This DVD is just packed with vintage action from my beloved Sacramento Northern. I used to live less than a mile from the Oakland hills tunnel portal, and for years never even knew about the SN. Once I found out, I became obsessed with learning more about it and exploring the surprisingly few artifacts left. The SN was once the longest electrified interurban in the country spanning from Chico, CA to San Francisco, CA.


#2

Workin On The Railroad DVD
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Workin On The Railroad DVD

Have you ever passed a track gang and wondered what all those machines actually do? Here's your answer and more. You'll visit a tie replacement and surfacing gang to witness the amazing parade of equipment as it progresses down the track. Closeup shots explain what each machine does. Then you'll tour a major shop to see in detail how coal hoppers are built. Next you're off to view undercutting machines cleaning ballast on BNSF.Did you ever wonder what it's like to work as a dispatcher? You'll visit a Norfolk Southern facility where the chief dispatcher explains the operation. Returning to BNSF, you'll see one of the most awesome pieces of railroad equipment: the P-811 concrete tie layer. This gigantic device lifts welded rails from the ...more

Sam's Comments:

This is one of my favorite videos! Pentrex did a really good job of showing how all the maintenance machines work in close detail with good narration that isn't too obtrusive. The second half shows an automated concrete tie and welded rail laying machine that is just mind boggling to see.


#3

This Was Pacific Electric - A Complete History on DVD by Sky City Productions
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This Was Pacific Electric - A Complete History on DVD by Sky City Productions

This Was Pacific Electric tells the entire story of Southern California's famous RED CARS. Beginning in 1874 with the first horse car, this wonderful production follows the P.E. from its glory days in the 20's, into the depression of the 30's, through a resurrection in the war years and on to its final demise in 1961. But this documentary tells an even bigger story.Produced in cooperation with the world famous Huntington Library, This Was Pacific Electric explains the interweaving of this famous railway and the development of Southern California -- Five counties that became what they are today because the RED CARS of the PE.The story is told through historical film and hundreds of still pictures. It contains interviews with ...more

Sam's Comments:

Wow! This is an extremely well done presentation on the COMPLETE history of the PE. Covers everything from the early days of Los Angeles to the abandonment and after. Whether you're familiar with the Pacific Electric or not, I'm sure you'll find this very entertaining. A lot of content came from the Transit Gloria Mundi's 3 DVD set of Pacific Electric content. Some of the content came from the world class Huntington museum, library and gardens in San Marino. The best part is something that looks like it was just thrown in as an extra. To me it alone would be worth having. The camera follows a VERY passionate and knowledgeable "foamer" around current day LA showing us areas where the Red Cars ran and what they look like now including little artifacts of what is still there and in some cases buried (I never heard of the term "track crack" until now). It's guaranteed you won't be disappointed with this one!


#4

Street Running DVD
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Street Running DVD

To railfans, "street running" brings to mind images of long trains operating down busy city streets while auto traffic swerves to avoid disastrous collisions. That's exactly what you'll find in this collective look at 22 locations around the country where railroads continue to run trains down the middle of main streets.Street running is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Modesto, California, where the Tidewater Southern (now UP) tracks have been a problem for years, has finally seen its last train pass down busy 9th Street. You'll see it just days before the line was closed. You'll also visit Erie, Pennsylvania, where street running will soon be eliminated on Norfolk Southern tracks running down 19th Street. Other ...more

Sam's Comments:

One of my favorites. Something about seeing giant locomotives gliding along the road with barely any visible means of support so close to traffic. And I love those scenes of rickety old track embedded in the road. This video covers street running all over the country. Especially sad was to see the Modesto last train street running. Never to come back.


#5

Amtrak the Surfline Combo DVD
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Amtrak the Surfline Combo DVD

One of the most scenic stretches of railroad track in the West follows the blue Pacific coastline between Los Angeles and San Diego. Known as the Surfline, this famous route was filmed in detail by Video Rails in the mid-1990s. The resulting two videos have now been combined on one DVD to bring you all the historic sites, exquisite scenery, and railroading action you look for. Included on this DVD are:Amtrak - The SurflineOur journey begins at Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal and heads south to San Diego. You'll stop at each station along the Surfline route to see the unique features of these historic boarding points, including the lovely San Juan Capistrano station. Highlights of your tour feature views of the ...more

#6

Above the Rails Combo DVD
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Above the Rails Combo DVD

Here are two shows that lift you up into the skies above Southern California for an incredible look at railroading as you've never seen it before!Above Southern California Rails (42 Minutes) Get ready for the ultimate railfan video as Pentrex takes you into the skies to experience Southern California railroading as it's never been seen before! Climb aboard a jet helicopter loaded with state-of-the-art, gyro-stabilized video equipment. Then soar skyward to enjoy sweeping panoramas, pace speeding locomotives, and get incredible aerial views of long curving trains.Skim over the blue Pacific Ocean as we follow Amtrak trains and BNSF freights along the "Surf Line" near San Clemente. Check out the newly-rebuilt BNSF yards in San ...more

#7

Key System Empire D-123 Charles Smiley Presents
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Key System Empire D-123 Charles Smiley Presents

See the Key System from its early days with ferryboats to the Bay Bridge era. Learn the history from start to finish of the great East-shore Empire. Visit all the lines and cross the bay by ferry and bridge-rails to San Francisco. Streetcars, Bridge-articulated units and many surprises, plus cameo appearances of early Muni and IER make this a transportation story.Featuring: Pre & Post WWII Action, Street Car Lines, 1939 World's Fair, Ferryboats, Bridge Trains, Color & Black and White.Relive history on the Eastshore Empire built by Borax Smith from numerous streetcar lines. Follow the rapid build up of the area from the real estate and building days of the builders of the Key System. Ride a train to the ferry terminal. Witness the ...more

#8

Silver Thread Through the West - The California Zephyr on DVD
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Silver Thread Through the West - The California Zephyr on DVD

Touted as Americas most talked-about train the California Zephyr took travelers from Chicago to Oakland/San Francisco in style. It was the flagship of the CB&Q, DRGW and Western Pacific and was known for the spectacular scenery of the Rockies as seen through its domes.Climb aboard the California Zephyr and experience the magic of a unique train, and also meet the people who made the Zephyr special.Enjoy a meal in the dining car as described in memories of a dining car steward, or have Zephyrettes share their daily experience with you. Find out what it was like to ride in a Vista-Dome as recalled by several passengers, or learn from the person who presided over the demise of the train and how difficult it was to ...more

Sam's Comments:

Some great stories of the famous Zephyr from people that actually rode it or worked on it. This is not a video of runbys and such, but of a look at the people associated with it. It's a fascinating story, and this video is very nicely polished. It's also one that may not bore your non-railfan friends :)


#9

Snow Plow with CN F7s - Greg Scholl Video Productions
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Snow Plow with CN F7s - Greg Scholl Video Productions

In the winter of 1987 we ventured to Canada to capture some incredible railroad action. Stratford, Ontario is our base as we enjoy some plow runs on the branch lines that Canadian National (CN) owned. These lines only saw sporadic freight runs, thus when the winds blew the snow around, the railroad quickly became covered to the point a snow plow extra had to be dispatched to clear the line. Quantity of snow is not the problem, it is the wind, causing drifting, which fills the cuts and valleys. Powering the CN plow is a pair of Canadian National first generation F7s along with the orange snowplow. We'll see how the plow is operated, and even get a short ride inside as they plow a siding. First, we catch a run to Wingham, Ontario. On this ...more

#10

Donner Pass Thunder D-111 Charles Smiley Presents
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Donner Pass Thunder D-111 Charles Smiley Presents

Witness vintage and contemporary film and video as Southern Pacific trains do battle with a 7000 foot climb up 2.42% grades. This exciting video combines old film and video shot over decades of Donner Pass action. See Black Widow and Red Gray F units and ALCO PAs in freight and passenger operations. The history of the old Central Pacific and the Big four is reviewed and the comparison of the Donner and the Feather River Route is made with vintage Western Pacific diesel footage. We take several trips over the "Hill" and fight snow and show some awsome power lash-ups. The snow-shed history , reefer block business, locomotive development, double track construction and the connection to the Nevada County Narrow Gauge is also ...more

#11


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#12

Steel City Traction - The South Side Lines on DVD by Transit Gloria Mundi
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Steel City Traction - The South Side Lines on DVD by Transit Gloria Mundi

Steel City Traction: The South Side Lines tells the story of the lines that operated southward from downtown Pittsburgh, including routes 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 42, 44, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, and 53, the interurbans to Washington and Charleroi, five of the inclines, the experimental Skybus line, and the current light rail system. Over half the DVD is from vintage film footage dating back as far as World War II, showing standard cars as well as the famous PCCs, mostly in color. Modern professional video footage documents the operations of the light rail line. The organization of the program is geographical as well as historical, with many maps showing the development and eventual decline and rebirth of rail transit in Pittsburgh, and a ...more

Sam's Comments:

I didn't know anything about the Pittsburg transit system, and have never been to Pittsburg, but these 3 videos are extremely well done and have some great scenes. In fact I think Transit Gloria Mundi does a good job in producing these videos. Every title I've viewed from them has been exceptional.


#13

Steel City Traction 2 - West End Story on DVD by Transit Gloria Mundi
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Steel City Traction 2 - West End Story on DVD by Transit Gloria Mundi

Pittsburgh - a legend among American cities and once home to one of the world's greatest streetcar systems - rises from the point where two great rivers, the Monongahela and the Allegheny, join to form the mighty Ohio. The rugged hills and huge rivers give Pittsburgh an unmistakable topography and make for some of the most picturesque and noteworthy streetcar scenes in the world. Steel City Traction 2: West End Story documents the final years of street railway operations on the city's West End, immediately prior to the conversion to bus in 1959. We take a day's journey just as a trolley enthusiast might, w ith complete coverage of Route 25 - Island Avenue, 26 - West Park, 27 - Carnegie, 28 - Heidelberg, 30 - Crafton-Ingram, and 34/31 - ...more

#14

Steel City Traction 3 - The North Side on DVD by Transit Gloria Mundi
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Steel City Traction 3 - The North Side on DVD by Transit Gloria Mundi

Pittsburgh's North Side was home to some of the Steel City's most-loved trolley lines. Route 21 Fineview had some of the steepest grades, tightest turns, and most spectacular views in the entire city. The West View loop (Routes 10 West View and 15 Bellevue) had one of the system's longest stretches of private right-of-way, and a spectacular high bridge. Film coverage of the North Side routes was uneven. Some of the lines went so early that we were only able to locate a shot or two. And some of the longest, most heavily-traveled trunks, shared by several routes nearly to the end of trolleys on the North Side, were considered so boring by most railfans that no one bothered to shoot movies of them at all. The good news is that the ...more

#15

Imperial Valley Sugar Beet Trains on DVD
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Imperial Valley Sugar Beet Trains on DVD

The Ending of An EraIn the early hours of July 17, 1993, Southern Pacific"s last sugar beet train from the Imperial Valley pulled into the station at Guadalupe, California. The nearby sugar mill would soon be shut down after nearly 100 years of operation and SP"s sugar beet trains, with their familiar wooden gondolas, would no longer make the run from the southeast corner of the state to the central coast. Video Rails was on hand to record this historic moment, for they were capturing the entire operation prior to the end of an era.Our journey begins in the lush farmlands of the Imperial Valley, 420 rail miles away from the Holly Sugar Mill at Betteravia. There you"ll watch as sugar beets are harvested, transported ...more

Sam's Comments:

Wow! This was like an extended How It's Made episode geared towards railroads. I had no idea what a sugar beet was, how it was harvested, how it was transported, and how it was processed...until now. Some incredible cab rides on the Coast Line just a few feet from the Pacific Ocean. Don't miss the "Man Lift". Really good DVD. And the price is right!


#16

Electric Rails Of Utah D-127 Charles Smiley Presents
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Electric Rails Of Utah D-127 Charles Smiley Presents

Visit The Fabulous electric railroads that once roamed the Great Salt Lake area. The lines featured are the Bamberger Railroad, The Utah Idaho Central, Salt Lake Garfield & Western, (Saltair), and the Salt Lake ∓ Utah Railroad. Passenger and freight operation, with nostalgic scenes and lots of history, make this a 'must see' video. The Bamberger and the Saltair both operated trains to amusement parks -- such as Lagoon Park and the Saltair Pavilion. We cover those topics as well as express LCL service. Ride the trains from Salt Lake City to Logan, Idaho and down to Preston, Utah and see a vanished way of living. Take a pleasant trip out on the Salt Lake by rail to the Saltair Pavilion. See streetcars in Salt Lake City with ...more

Sam's Comments:

I specifically sought this video out after reminiscing about some of my cross country trips when I was younger. I have distinct memories of passing the Saltair palace on the salt flats and even riding these weird roller coaster like cars on a water flume. It was like a cross between a regular water tube ride and a roller coaster. Then several years later I passed by again and the place was virtually under water. I remember walking into the main palace and seeing the mosaic tiles under water. So I just happened to notice on this DVD that there was a rail line that went there (didn't know that), and was thrilled to watch it and see my memories come to life. Great stuff from CSP!


#17

Steel and Ice The Trolley Days of Winter
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Steel and Ice The Trolley Days of Winter

It's magic! Against snowy scenes of the city in winter, streetcars festooned with icicles emerge from the driving flakes. The sweepers come, whisking the snow in billowy clouds of crystal white. The cars seem to float past on tracks that are all but invisible in the glistening snow, gliding down nearly empty suburban streets, or through the white-on-white of private right-of-way.In Steel And Ice: The Trolley Days of Winter, Transit Gloria Mundi has gathered some of the most stunning motion pictures ever collected of traction operations in the snow, and combined them with a haunting musical score to create an evocative picture of traction operations in the deep of winter.Systems shown include: Pittsburgh, ...more

#18

Pacific Surfliner Head-End Cab Ride (2 DVDs)
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Pacific Surfliner Head-End Cab Ride (2 DVDs)

Experience the thrill of running Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner trains along the coast at 90 MPH! The perfect tool to help you get qualified on the Surfliner's "South End". This Double-disc DVD set includes every inch of territory between LA and San Diego, along with useful location information, signal indications, and speed limits. Realtime milepost data is available in the DVD's special features.Recorded digitally with Sony Hi-Def cameras using stereo microphones located at various positions within the locomotive, this DVD set is the most realistic way to experience modern, hi-speed passenger train operations in a busy passenger corridor along some of the most beautiful scenery in the country.In addition to the ...more

Sam's Comments:

This is a VERY different DVD. We're not sure of the origins of this particular 2-Disc DVD, but we're pretty sure it's a quasi-training DVD for a Microsoft Train Simulator Add-On that they once distributed. At the end of the video it states "Would you like to run your own Surfliner?". Well the web address they provide is no longer valid, and the status of the add-on for the simulator is unknown as well. What we do know is that this is a very high quality DVD. It's basically the entire trip from Los Angeles to San Diego in real time. What makes the movie so unique is that the camera is situated without obstructions (except for a little bit of the windshield), and the camera does not pan around. It just sits there the entire ride. Superimposed on the screen is the real time speed of the locomotive, the block name, the signal status, milepost marker and permitted speed. It's real interesting to watch and unlike anything we've seen before. The special features include some weather running (rain, fog, night), train meets, and an interesting tour of the consist. It's a little pricey (we've tried to bring the price down from list), and it's probably not everyone's cup of tea, but we think you'll find it an interesting addition to your collection.