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                                                                   Big “E” Productions

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Frequency – four times a year                            Issue #165                                      September, 2018

This newsletter is several weeks late again.  I was still catching up from being gone the whole month of May when the hard drive on the computer that I use for editing failed.  Recovery took about 2 ½ weeks.  Anyway we have two new programs out - “Union Pacific in the Blue Mountains” and “BNSF in the Columbia River Gorge”.  These are our 38th and 39th 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 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.  311 programs are available in DVD (39 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 “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 three 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 six 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 around Ridgeland, South Carolina, thirty-two miles 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 including Hamlet and running fewer but longer trains.  Unfortunately, four months after our visit to CSX’s I-95 Corridor, Hunter Harrison suddenly died.  Two of his protégé’s are now running the railroad.  “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.


Released nine months ago was “Union Pacific’s Del Rio Subdivision” and “BNSF South Texas Mains”.  The Sunset Route between Los Angeles and New Orleans was the Southern Pacific’s most important route out of California, and recently this line has been the recipient of considerable investment by its current owner, Union Pacific.  This program shows all the trains for over twenty-four hours on the storied Sunset Route in West Texas between Uvalde and Hondo on UP’s Del Rio Subdivision in May of 2017.  Uvalde is ninety-two miles west of San Antonio and forty miles east of Spofford where UP’s Eagle Pass subdivision that connects with Mexican railroad Ferromex diverges from the main.  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 has overhead rights on UP between several connections east of San Antonio and Eagle Pass.  And today there are more trains to and from Ferromex at Eagle Pass than there are between Spofford and El Paso, with many of these trains powered by UP’s newest locomotives.  In some months more rail cars cross the border at Eagle Pass than at Laredo although Laredo still has more rail traffic into the city due much intermodal being trucked across the border.  “Union Pacific’s Del Rio Subdivision” is 81 minutes in length.  Both the Blu-ray and DVD versions sell for $32.95 plus $5.00 for shipping and handling.  “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.  This gives a comprehensive look at all of BNSF’s traffic lanes into and out of south Texas.  BNSF has partial directional running on these lines.  A surfeit of southbounds take the former Burlington-Rock Island line or Houston sub between Fort Worth and Houston, especially manifest trains returning empties to the Texas Gulf Coast chemical plants, while more northbound manifests than southbound ones run via Temple and the Fort Worth sub to Fort Worth and beyond.  Some Powder River Basin bound empty coal trains take the Lampasas sub to Lubbock and then north to Amarillo where they join the normal coal route to the Powder River Basin while loads take the other two lines directly to power plants located on or near them.  “BNSF South Texas Mains” is a two disk set and is two hours and 36 minutes long.  Both the Blu-ray and DVD versions sell for $40.95 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 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”, “UP’s Historic Council Bluffs to Gibbon Main”, and “Union Pacific’s Marysville Subdivision.  “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 Missouri Pacific line, now UP’s Beaumont Subdivision, and then the former Southern Pacific line, now UP’s Houston sub.  Kansas City Southern and BNSF trains have overhead rights on these lines stemming from conditions in the UP-SP merger.  “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.  “UP’s Historic Council Bluffs to Gibbon Main” shows over twenty-four hours of action on UP’s Columbus and Kearney Subdivisions on both sides of Grand Island in April of 2016.  This is one of the busiest and best known rail lines in this country.  “Union Pacific’s Marysville Subdivision” shows over twenty-four hours of fast paced action on UP’s still busy Marysville Subdivision both sides of Fairbury, Nebraska in April of 2016.


Our next release in late November should be on the BNSF-UP Tacoma to Portland Joint Line.

                                                   Dick and Barb Eisfeller