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                                                                   Big “E” Productions

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Frequency – three times a year                                  Issue #171                                            March, 2020


With all of the travel restrictions in place we hope that all of you are safe at home as this is being written in late March of 2020.  We are doing fine here so far and intend to continue working out of our home.  No other train video producer shows and explains railroading like we do and our catalogue includes programs on fallen flags ATSF, SP, BN, CNW,  IC, Wisconsin Central, and Conrail.  Our latest programs show the effects of precision scheduled railroading on the CSX and NS main lines to Indianapolis and Decatur, Illinois respectively.  And the effect of PSR is considerable – many fewer but longer trains with much use of distributed power.  The new programs this month are “CSX Indianapolis Line Subdivision, a.k.a the Bee Line” and “Norfolk Southern’s former Wabash Lafayette District”These are our 46th and 47th programs 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 around 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.  319 programs are available in DVD (47 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, BN, SP, CNW. IC, Wisconsin Central, and Conrail.  Our shipping and handling charge on 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 “CSX Indianapolis Line Subdivision, a.k.a the Bee Line” and “Norfolk Southern’s former Wabash Lafayette District”.  The new CSX video shows over 24 hours of action on CSX’s former Conrail and New York Central line between Cleveland and Indianapolis around Union City on the Ohio – Indiana border in October of 2019.  This line carries all of CSX’s traffic from the East Coast and upper Midwest to Indianapolis and East St. Louis.  Recently, most automotive traffic from the East for Louisville was re-routed via Indianapolis and the Louisville and Indiana Railroad to Louisville, instead of taking the congested “Short Line” from Cincinnati to Louisville.  Beginning in early 2017 when Hunter Harrison arrived at CSX, there have been dramatic changes in operations as many hump classification yards were closed and trains combined or discontinued.  The result has been fewer but longer trains that will be on display in this video.  This line is known today as the Bee Line, as in honeybee, ostensibly because it runs in a relatively straight line between Cleveland and Indianapolis.  But the original nickname was only the letter B, referring to the Indianapolis and Bellefontaine and Bellefontaine and Indiana railroads who met at what would become Union City in 1853.  “CSX Indianapolis Line Subdivision, a.k.a the Bee Line” is one hour and 21 minutes in length.  Both the Blu-ray and DVD versions sell for $32.95 plus $5.00 for S&H.  Also new this month is “Norfolk Southern’s former Wabash Lafayette District”.  NS recently implemented precision scheduled railroading system-wide on their manifest trains.  This video shows the trains and operations on NS’s Lafayette District west of Lafayette, Indiana for over 24 hours in October of 2019.  PSR on this Detroit and Fort Wayne to Decatur, Illinois traffic lane has resulted in fewer but longer trains and the first use of distributed power in nearly fifty years on this line.  Where we videotaped, this superbly engineered, high-speed former Wabash line constructed over one 160 years ago follows the Wabash River mostly near the top of the valley and then crosses the Wabash at Attica, Indiana where we spent the night.  Trains from Detroit, Fort Wayne, Bellevue, southwest of Cleveland, the Southeast via Muncie and Frankfort, Indiana, and the East Coast take this line to Decatur and to the major rail centers and connections at St. Louis, and Kansas City.  This line hosts an eclectic mix of manifest, intermodal, auto and unit trains along with the last remaining RoadRailers.  Although there are fewer auto parts through here than there was before the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009, this line still sees nearly solid trains of auto parts cars and continues to deserve the moniker – automotive artery.  “Norfolk Southern’s former Wabash Lafayette District” is 1 hour and 27 minutes in length.  Both the Blu-ray and DVD versions sell for $34.95 plus $5.00 for S&H.


New three months ago was “Norfolk Southern at Bellevue, Ohio”.  Railroad Town U. S. A. There used to be many small cities and towns spread throughout the Midwest with that nickname.  Today, with fewer manifest cars to be classified, fewer shops with modern diesels, and fewer crew change points with longer crew districts, many former railroad towns are now just pass through places, and some of these former railroad towns have even lost their railroad.  Not so with Bellevue in north central Ohio, southwest of Cleveland.  With the completion of the near doubling of size of their huge classification yard northeast of town in 2015, now known as Moorman Yard, Norfolk Southern in Bellevue is busier than ever.  Five NS lines run into Bellevue plus the Wheeling and Lake Erie and there still is a locomotive shop there in addition to the eighty track classification yard.  And there is even a railfan platform west of the yard near downtown Bellevue, thanks to the hard work of the nearby Mad River and NKP Museum and the Kemper family.  This program shows twenty-four hours of action at or near the Kemper Rail Park railfan platform on the lines to Fort Wayne, Columbus and Toledo in April of 2019.   “Norfolk Southern at Bellevue, Ohio” is a three disk set and is four hours and 32 minutes in length.  Both the Blu-ray and DVD versions sell for $50.95 plus $5.00 for S&H.


New six months ago was “CSX Nashville to Louisville and Evansville Mains”.  This program shows 24 hours of action in April of 2019 on CSX’s Nashville to Louisville and then twenty-four hours on their Nashville to Evansville main lines.  The historic Louisville to Nashville line, now referred to as CSX’s Mainline Subdivision, was the original main line of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad.  The busier Evansville to Nashville line is today called the Henderson Subdivision and is part of CSX’s Southeast Corridor from Chicago to Florida – CSX’s busiest route from the upper Midwest to Florida via Evansville, Nashville, and Birmingham.  The videotaping on both lines was done around and just south of the cities of Portland and Springfield, Tennessee, forty-two and thirty miles north of Nashville respectively.  These lie just beyond the summits of the climb out of the Cumberland River Valley.  Both lines utilize tunnels to pierce the Highland Rim or ridge at the top of the climb up the escarpment north of Nashville although these tunnels are not very accessible for photography.  With the much longer trains of today, this program makes for an interesting comparison to that of 24 years ago, thanks to Hunter Harrison’s precision scheduled railroading.  PSR has resulted in some trains being well over two miles in length with many utilizing distributed power or radio controlled slave units in the middle or on the rear of the train.  “CSX Nashville to Louisville and Evansville Mains” is two hours and 30 minutes long and is a 2 DVD set.  Both the Blu-ray and DVD versions sell for $38.95 plus $5.00 for S&H.


New six months ago was “CN’s former Illinois Central Chicago Subdivision”.  This video shows over 24 hours of action in October of 2018 on the Canadian National’s historic, former Illinois Central main line south of Chicago – the first railroad to utilize land grants as a means of enabling construction and, for a brief time, the longest railroad in the world at the time of its completion in 1856.  CN’s Chicago subdivision, which stretches from the junction with their line to Iowa at Sixteenth Street in Chicago to Leverette Junction, just north of Champaign, was Hunter Harrison’s proving ground for his precision scheduled railroading practices in the early 1990s and today hosts many long CN freights, Amtrak’s mini-corridor to Carbondale the City of New Orleans and even crude oil trains.  “CN’s former Illinois Central Chicago Subdivision” is 65 minutes in length.  Both the Blu-ray and DVD versions sell for $30.95 plus $5.00 for S&H.


New nine months ago was “Canadian Pacific’s Shuswap Subdivision”. Canadian Pacific’s Shuswap Subdivision stretches from the picturesque town of Revelstoke, British Columbia, nestled between the Rocky and Monashee mountain ranges on the mighty Columbia River, to Kamloops on the South Thompson River, a distance of 129 miles.  This video shows over twenty-four hours of action between Revelstoke and Notch Hill in May of 2018.  This includes the spectacular passage through Eagle Pass just west of Revelstoke and the long climb for heavy westbound unit trains up Notch Hill on the new, low grade line which includes a spectacular horseshoe curve.  CP’s Shuswap sub is part of CP’s transcontinental main line to Vancouver, B.C. and sees many stack, manifest, sulfur, potash and grain trains, along with 21,000 ton coal trains from southern British Columbia that join the main at Golden on the Columbia River, ninety-five miles east of Revelstoke.  Most of these trains utilize distributed power with locomotives spread out at up to three points in the train.  “Canadian Pacific’s Shuswap Subdivision” is a two disk set and is two hours and 41 minutes in length.  Both the Blu-ray and DVD versions sell for $40.95 plus $5.00 for shipping and handling.


Other recent releases that can be watched with and without narration and are available in both Blu-ray and DVD include “CN’s Edmonton to Jasper Main west of Edson, AB”, BNSF & UP Tacoma – Portland Joint Line”, “BNSF in the Columbia River Gorge”, “Union Pacific in the Blue Mountains”, “The Trains of Northern New England 2018”, “NS former Southern Railway North Carolina Main”, “CSX I-95 Corridor Carolina Main”, “Union Pacific’s Del Rio Subdivision”, and “BNSF South Texas Mains”.  “CN’s Edmonton to Jasper Main west of Edson, AB” shows the trains and operations on Canadian National’s transcontinental main line west of Edmonton, Alberta on their Edson Subdivision between Edson and Hinton.  The tonnage on this line has grown more than fifty percent in the last decade.  “BNSF & UP Tacoma – Portland Joint Line” shows over 24 hours of action on the BNSF and UP Tacoma to Portland Joint Line between Napavine and Kelso, WA in May of 2018.  The number of unit coal, grain, and crude oil trains on this line seems to increase each year.  “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, WA on BNSF’s Fallbridge Subdivision in May of 2018.  “Union Pacific in the Blue Mountains” 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.  “The Trains of Northern New England 2018” 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.  “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.  “CSX I-95 Corridor Carolina Main” 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.  “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.


Our next release in June should be one of the the other two programs from our fall 2019 trip that compare the effects of PSR on the NS and CSX lines to Chicago in northern Indiana.  I will be 77 by the time that the last of you receive this newsletter, but I intend to continue producing a few videos each year as long as both Barb and I are in good health and I still enjoy the traveling.  The focus this year will be changes in the West due to PSR.  We do hope to get out this fall to videotape trains in the West.  In the meantime - stay safe.

                                                   Dick and Barb Eisfeller