Maine Central, Lamoille Valley

Maine Central, Lamoille Valley
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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

DVD Review: Rails Along the River - WRJ to St. J

Just finished up watching the DVD "Rails Along The River: White River Jct. to St. Johnsbury, VT" from Tell-Tale productions. I picked this up along with part 2 "St. J to Newport" at the Springfield show. (Have not watched part 2 yet). Here is my impressions of the video (I have no affiliation with the producer).

Pretty good overview of the line from south to north. Some period photos help explain the importance of this line in earlier times. Footage mainly from the 2000's, with some CP Rail RS18 footage from the early 1990s. Includes current VTR Washington County ops, as well as predecessor Iron Roads’ Northern Vermont RR from the first half of the last decade. “Side trips” to the Claremont Concord, Lamoille Valley (including snow plows and covered RR bridges) and Conway Scenic’s ex-MEC MountainDivision (including a steam excursion) are nice extras that flesh out railroading in this area. Video includes freights as well as some passenger excursions.

A little sparse on commentary about the trains themselves, but it does include some historical interviews about certain areas throughout the video that go beyond a normal train video, kind of like a Ken Burns documentary at times. Cuts to a topo map at each town are a nice touch as they help you see where the rail line is in relation to the Connecticut River and other towns. Action from all seasons gives one a good feel for the area. I wish they spent a little more time on certain train segments (like switching at the customers) and a little less run-by shots.

Some trains were filmed the whole length of the line, so you see the same train in a run-by multiple times in different locations which starts to get old after a while. Also, you sometimes want a little more of a shot, or a less zoomed in view, like when the train plows snow through a grade crossing, which is not as dramatic because it is zoomed in and you don’t see the snow bank getting blasted at the road. I did like some of the shots of buildings, stations and right-of-way intermixed with the train footage as it really helps with ideas for scenery and structures on a model railroad.

Coming in at 100 minute (with a 10 minute bonus feature and 10 minutes of ads for other titles), the DVD sells for $25 (I got mine for $19.95 at the show). Overall 3.5 out of 5 boxcars. Good video quality and good camerawork. Could have moved along a little faster and perhaps been just 75 minutes in length. But a good deal ($25 includes shipping and tax) and certainly a good look at something different than a lot of today’s videos that feature big trains from just the big railroads. More