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                                                                    Big “E” Productions

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Frequency – four times a year                                   Issue #166                                         December, 2018


May all of you have a great Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Remember, our DVDs make great Christmas gifts for the railfan in your family.  This Newsletter begins our 27th year of producing train videos.  As long as both my wife and I are in good health I intend to continue.  I already have plans to compare traffic on the main lines of NS and CSX next spring when I will be 76 years young.  We go to one train show a year – the Railroad Hobby Show at The Eastern States Exposition Center in West Springfield, Massachusetts on January 26th and 27th.  This will be our silver anniversary of exhibiting at that show.  We hope to meet many of you there.


We have one new program this quarter and it is a doozy  - “BNSF & UP Tacoma – Portland Joint Line”.  I thoroughly enjoyed videotaping on this line in 1997 and have been wanting to get back to this fascinating line for many years.  This is our 40th program to be released in both Blu-ray and in regular DVD.  You need to specify what type of DVD you are ordering with programs available in both DVD and Blu-ray.  All of our DVD’s have chapters and menus and nearly half – everything videotaped from 2004 on plus a few programs from 2003 - have a choice of being watched with narration and without narration by using the menu or audio and language buttons on your DVD player controller.  312 programs are available in DVD (40 in Blu-ray) and all are listed in the flyers.  No other train video producer shows and explains railroading like we do and our catalogue includes programs on fallen flags ATSF, SP, Wisconsin Central, and Conrail.  Our shipping and handling charge on repeat orders remains $5.00 with no charge on orders over $100.  We offer year-round discounts on large orders.  See flyers for details.  These discounts are available only by mail and phone.  If you have questions and get our answering machine, please leave your name and number and we will call you back as soon as possible.  We are also on the internet at


New this month is “BNSF & UP Tacoma – Portland Joint Line”.  For well over a century the busiest rail line in the Pacific Northwest has been BNSF’s Seattle Subdivision between Seattle and Vancouver Washington on the north bank of the Columbia River opposite Portland, Oregon.  For seventy years this former Northern Pacific main known as the Joint Line carried the trains of the NP, Great Northern, and Union Pacific.  Today BNSF is the owner and Union Pacific and Amtrak are the tenants.  UP has full trackage rights between Vancouver and Tacoma while Amtrak’s Coast Starlight and four pair of Cascades traverse the full length of the Seattle sub between Seattle and Vancouver.    BNSF and UP rail traffic between Seattle, Tacoma, and Portland utilize all or parts of this line and the joint line is also part of UP’s transcontinental main line from Chicago to Seattle.  We caught over twenty-four hours of action on the BNSF and UP Tacoma to Portland Joint Line between Napavine and Kelso in May of 2018.  The tonnage if not the number of trains on the Joint Line is at or near an all-time peak as the number of unit coal, grain, and crude oil trains seems to increase each year.  And northbounds greatly outnumber southbounds on BNSF here as most unit train empties head east at Auburn over Stampede Pass.  The state of Washington has been funding additions to the capacity of BNSF’s Seattle sub in order to add additional Cascades service between Seattle and Portland.  “BNSF & UP Tacoma – Portland Joint Line” is two hours in length.  Both the Blu-ray and DVD versions sell for $34.95 plus $5.00 for S&H.


New three months ago was “Union Pacific in the Blue Mountains” and “BNSF in the Columbia River Gorge”.  As the Oregon Railway and Navigation Company climbed out of the Columbia River Valley near present day Hinkle while on its trek towards meeting the Union Pacific Railroad at Huntington on the Snake River, it encountered the Blue Mountain range in northeastern Oregon.  The track that it constructed through this land of snow-capped mountains, sagebrush covered desert, and lush mountain valleys remains one of the Union Pacific’s greatest mountain challenges as trains up to 20,000 tons conquer three separate summits on their way to Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington.  And the most difficult and westernmost of these climbs is the line through the main Blue Mountain range west of La Grande, Oregon, the subject of this program.  While multiple helper sets used to roam these grades, today this line is ruled by radio controlled slave units with the power distributed at up to three points in the train.  This DVD shows over 24 hours of ear-splitting action on the two percent grades of UP’s La Grande subdivision in the Blue Mountains of northeast Oregon in May of 2018.  “Union Pacific in the Blue Mountains” is two hours and 12 minutes in length.  Both the Blu-ray and DVD versions sell for $36.95 plus $5.00 for S&H.  Where the winds blow could easily be the title of the “BNSF in the Columbia River Gorge” program.  Large temperature gradients between the west and east ends of the Columbia River Gorge drive the prevailing westerly winds, especially on warm days.  And when we were standing on the basalt cliffs lining the north side of the Gorge looking down on the tracks, the wind was certainly blowing.  The town of Bingen, Washington where we spent the night is in the heart of this only, near sea level gap in the Cascade Mountains and is almost right across the River from Hood River, Oregon, the windsurfing capital of the World.  BNSF’s former Spokane, Portland and Seattle main line along the north bank of the Columbia hosts almost all of BNSF’s westbound manifest and loaded unit trains bound for all the major cities in the Pacific Northwest from Portland to Vancouver, British Columbia.  And with the number of crude oil and export coal trains growing along with as many as nine grain trains in 24 hours, the unit train count on this line can be staggering.  “BNSF in the Columbia River Gorge” shows over 24 hours of BNSF and Amtrak action in the scenic heart of the Columbia River Gorge, both sides of Bingen on BNSF’s Fallbridge Subdivision in May of 2018.  “BNSF in the Columbia River Gorge” is one hour and 30 minutes in length.  Both the Blu-ray and DVD versions sell for $34.95 plus $5.00 for S&H.


New six months ago was “The Trains of Northern New England 2018”.  This DVD covers the trains and operations on all of the regional railroads - New England Central, Central Maine and Quebec, the Saint Lawrence and Atlantic, Vermont Rail System and the largest, Pan Am Railways, in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine in the spring of 2018.  It shows what has become of the Maine Central and Boston and Maine railroads that once were the bastions of railroading in northern New England and also what became of the Bangor and Aroostook, Central Vermont, Rutland, and Canadian National and Canadian Pacific lines in northern New England.  It is a sequel to our highly acclaimed programs showing the trains of northern New England in 1997, 2000, 2004 and 2009.  This program also shows how the railroads of northern New England are coping with the decline in the paper industry in the past decade.  And Pan Am still has an eclectic mix of power including a group of “new” units – twenty-seven to twenty-nine-year-old GEs which are replacing even older EMDs.  “The Trains of Northern New England 2018” is two hours and 4 minutes in length.  Both the Blu-ray and DVD versions sell for $34.95 plus $5.00 for S&H.


New nine months ago was “NS former Southern Railway North Carolina Main” and “CSX I-95 Corridor in the Carolinas”“NS former Southern Railway North Carolina Main” shows over twenty-four hours of action in August of 2017 on one of the more historic main lines in the southeastern United States – the former Southern Railway, now Norfolk Southern, Washington to Atlanta main line just south of the Virginia border.  Although today almost all of the traffic on this line runs via Hagerstown, Maryland, not through Washington, D. C., Norfolk Southern’s Piedmont Division Main today sees more tonnage than ever before in its storied history thanks to the acquisition of part of Conrail including ownership of the Hagerstown to Harrisburg Line.  This acquisition has greatly increased traffic on this line since our last look in 1998.  As you will see, the Piedmont region of North Carolina is far from level, and there are few straight sections of track in this rolling country between the coastal plain and the Blue Ridge that was once home to many textile, furniture and tobacco related businesses, few of which remain.  This line carries all of NS’s traffic between the Northeast and the Southeast.  “NS former Southern Railway North Carolina Main” is 68 minutes in length.  Both the Blu-ray and DVD versions sell for $30.95 plus $5.00 for S&H.  The former Atlantic Coast Line main from Richmond, Virginia, to Jacksonville, Florida, has always been the busiest and fastest route for both passenger and freight trains between the Northeast and Florida.  Nicknamed “The Speedway” in ACL days for its one-time one hundred mile-an-hour limit for passenger trains, and later the “A” Line for its ACL heritage, this once double tracked line is CSX’s and Amtrak’s main line from the Northeast to Florida and is best known today as the I-95 Corridor for the interstate highway that it parallels.  This program first shows over twenty-four hours of action in August of 2017 north of Savannah Georgia and then daytime action at Pembroke, North Carolina where CSX’s I-95 Corridor crosses their line from Hamlet to Wilmington.  And all of this action takes place five months after the late Hunter Harrison took over CSX and drastically changed the railroad’s operations, closing eight of twelve hump classification yards and running fewer but longer trains.  “CSX I-95 Corridor Carolina Mains” is 61 minutes in length.  Both the Blu-ray and DVD versions sell for $30.95 plus $5.00 for S&H.


Other recent releases that can be watched with and without narration and are available in both Blu-ray and DVD include “Union Pacific’s Del Rio Subdivision”, “BNSF South Texas Mains”, “Union Pacific’s Texas Chemical Coast Mains”, “CSX’s S&NA North Subdivision”, “The Transcon in Illinois”, “BNSF’s Twin Cities to Fargo Mains”, “The Alaska Railroad”, “BNSF at Perry, Oklahoma”, “Norfolk Southern’s former D&H – a Phoenix Rising”.  “Union Pacific’s Del Rio Subdivision” shows all the trains for over twenty-four hours on the storied Sunset Route in West Texas west of San Antonio and east of Spofford on UP’s Del Rio Subdivision in May of 2017.  Thus we were able to catch not only the trains headed to and from El Paso but also the UP and BNSF trains bound for Ferromex at Eagle Pass.  “BNSF South Texas Mains” shows at least 24 hours of action on all three of BNSF’s main lines into south Texas – the former Burlington-Rock Island now known as BNSF’s Houston Subdivision, videotaped south of Teague, the former Santa Fe Fort Worth to Texas main, videotaped north of Temple, and the former Santa Fe Temple to Clovis line, seen northwest of Temple.  “Union Pacific’s Texas Chemical Coast Mains” shows over 24 hours of action on both UP lines between Houston and Beaumont in late April and early May of 2017 – first the former MP line, now UP’s Beaumont Subdivision, and then the former SP line, now UP’s Houston sub.  Kansas City Southern and BNSF trains have overhead rights on these lines.  “CSX’s S&NA North Subdivision” shows over 24 hours of action on the former Louisville and Nashville, now CSX, S&NA North Subdivision which runs from Nashville, Tennessee to Birmingham Alabama.  Trains were videotaped south of Nashville in hilly south-central Tennessee.  This is CSX’s busiest north-south traffic lane.  “The Transcon in Illinois” shows over 24 hours of action on the one-time Santa Fe Illinois Division between Ormonde, 13 miles west of Galesburg, and Fort Madison in October of 2016 and includes Union Pacific overhead rights trains also.  “BNSF’s Twin Cities to Fargo Mains” takes a 24 hour look at the two BNSF main lines between the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the adjacent cities of Moorhead, Minnesota and Fargo, North Dakota in September of 2016.  “The Alaska Railroad” shows the trains and traffic including all scheduled passenger and freight trains on the Alaska Railroad between the ports of Seward and Whittier and Fairbanks in late August and September of 2016.   “BNSF at Perry, Oklahoma” shows over 24 hours of action in April of 2016 at Perry, Oklahoma, where two important BNSF main lines run side by side through town – the north-south former Santa Fe, Kansas City to Fort Worth and Galveston line and the east-west former Frisco and later Burlington Northern Tulsa to Avard line.  “Norfolk Southern’s former D&H – a Phoenix Rising” shows over 24 hours of action on the former 2nd subdivision of the Delaware and Hudson, now Norfolk Southern, between Delanson, New York where the now truncated Albany main joins the main line and Belden tunnel, 16 miles from Binghamton, in July of 2016.


Our next releases in late February should be on CN and CP in western Canada.

                                                   Dick and Barb Eisfeller