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Rails to the Border DVD
 4 of 5 (1)

Rails to the Border DVD Greg Scholl Video Productions GSVP-405
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This is somewhat of a unique video since much of the video centers around the operations at Prince Rupert, in western Canada. This is an area seldom visited. We were there in 1996, and have now decided to release this for others to enjoy. We begin with an afternoon visit to the CN yard along the waterfront and find GP9 rebuild #7001 switching freight cars. There is nice afternoon sunshine during this plus some of the 567 engine rumble from time to time. We even see some car-kicking, whereby the brakeman uncouples the car on the fly and the engine stops and allows the uncoupled car to go on its own to the designated track. During this process one of the CN(Canadian National Railway) brakeman informed us they would be working the next day on the barge from Alaska that was coming in before dark.

We also see a variety of fishing and other boats from the shoreline, as we wait for VIA Rail's "Skeena" passenger train from Jasper to arrive.

While waiting for that train we saw the barge from Alaska. We finished our day with shots of the barge, and finally the early evening arrival of the "Skeena" passenger train.

The next morning we are down at the slip for the barge from Alaska. This is the CN's "Aquatrain" which takes 10 days roundtrip between Prince Rupert and Alaska. Therefore our timing was lucky to get this operation which takes place only 3 times a month. The 7001 collects 5 or 6 idler flat cars and they reach up over the ramp into the barge to collect each row of freight cars, and pull them down the ramp off the barge. There are several tracks and I believe the barge holds 48-50 freight cars depending on their lengths. There are 2 tracks leading to the barge and after one track is emptied a winch is used to pull the barge sideways to align the next track with the ramp track. After all the cars are unloaded, the 7001 brings the cars from the yard it had been switching the afternoon before, and begins the process of loading the barge. It is a process that is kinda slow but is seldom seen.

After the barge loading we get a couple of shots of 7001 switching the docks and harbor where wood products and containers are shipped in and out.

Now we leave Prince Rupert and have a couple of odd shots in Wynyard, SASK of a diesel finishing switching and tying up for the day. This was in June of 1999.

Next we head to southern British Columbia and catch a unit coal train on the Canadian Pacific from Sparwood that is seen at Fernie.

This train had a remote control mid-train helper. After this we are in Cranbrook and watch another freight depart headed west and to the U.S. Border of Eastport-Kingsgate, Idaho. This manifest is chased as far as Yahk and we get several scenes along this lightly traveled, but scenic line along the southern CPR line. There is also a really nice reflection location. This segment was also shot in 1999.

Finally we wrap things up with two BNSF freights near Sand Point, Idaho in what is called "The Funnel" near the U.S. and Canadian Border.

Check out the preview to get a better idea of what we just described.

Live audio and limited narration.

71 Minutes Plus Previews.

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DVD Item#:GSVP-405
Runtime:1 Hour, 11 Mins ($0.38/min)
Producer:Greg Scholl Video Productions
Aspect Ratio:Full Screen
Shrink Wrapped?:Yes
Disc Type:DVD
Region Code:0 Worldwide NTSC
Rails to the Border DVD
Steamboy (Revere MA US) on 2019-01-27 19:14:32.

People who found this review helpful: 2

  •  4 of 5

In this program, Canadian National Chopped nosed GP9R #7001 is doing some switching chores at the yard which is conveniently located from the top of hill during the late afternoon of June 23, 1996. This is in Prince Rupert British Columbia near the inland waterway and the nearby station for VIA passenger trains. As the diesel is doing some switching chores, note the 4 stall engine shed in the background as well as some clouds of thin dust rolling by. Not to mention the nearby shopping mall in the background. 7001 was one of the CN diesels to be rebuilt in 1985. At that time, the diesel's other siblings were also rebuilt. Next the engine makes a back up flying movement to let one freight car at a time roll to its specific consist in the yard. Afterwards, the diesel moves the 3 remaining boxcars to the yard, with a panning view of the water. Some boats are shown and since 2016, this island gained the population of 12,000. Here�s a fact: Greg, his wife, and daughter, was visiting Central and Western Canada for only 4 weeks. Next 7001 and the 3 remaining boxcars couples up to the different consist as it continues to do its switching duties. First comes the boxcars one by one. And after that,we see a boat in the water, as well as a seaplane in the sky. Meanwhile 7001 is still going to shunt some cars with a flying switch performance as it moves back and forth as always. Next a whole bunch of boats continue to float on the water. Which includes ferries, cargo containers, and more fishing boats. Some crows also appear as well. The majority of this program was shot during production of the Western Canada combo(Scenic trains of BC rail from 1998, and Scenic Trains of Canada from 1999). After the boats, the fog is turning in as a little house named Kwinitsa is shown, as well as the 2 story brick structure of the station, and the CN 4 stall engine sheds. Through the fog, aqua train or the rail barge is preparing to arrive at the CN rail dock after a long journey from Whittier Alaska that connects with the Alaska railroad. Every 10 days the trip each way takes about 4 to 5 days. Prince Rupert is the Land air and sea of the British Columbia north coast. The island is about 770 kilometers northwest of Vancouver near the US border, and 715 kilometers west from Prince George. At sunset the boats are still in the water, and Via rail train number 5 the westbound skeena arrives at Prince Rupert, after turning on the wye at the freight yard. This 3 car train is being shoved by F40 number 6451 after stopping, it lays over at the depot for the night. The next day June 24, 1996, the unloading process of the aqua train has begun. Before the chores, more boats are shown in the water. Next 7001 couples up to the empty flatbeds. This was done to lessen the weight on the ramp and to protest the diesel from falling off the tracks and into the sea. Once coupled up the chopped nose unit heads for the rail barge to gather the cars from Alaska. While this is really slow, it is still interesting to see the rare process on what railroading was like with the cooperation of the people working at sea. After the last car on the barge is removed, the diesel shoved the cars back to the freight yard. Some commentary from the switchman is included, as 7001 pushes through the junction. Afterwards the diesel couples up to the new cars, as it heads for the aquatrain to Alaska. Meanwhile a look at the barge that is trying to align at the ramp is shown. With the tracks aligned, the loading procedure has begun. Again, it is slow but interesting to watch when trains work with people at sea. After the last track on the barge is full, 7001 and the 6 empty flatbeds are uncoupled from the cars at the barge, as more boats are floating in the background. All too soon, the barge heads to Whittier with its new load. Meanwhile 7001 picks up a crewmember, as workmen are unscrewing the connection between the barge and the ramp. Next the diesel is doing some other chores at the Prince Rupert dock. A tugboat is seen heading with 2 barges. We bid farewell to the chopped nose unit as it continues to do its chores at the harbor. From Prince Rupert, a quickie of biggar Saskatchewan is shown with 4797 concluding its day of switching with the covered grain car, then heads light going backwards on a windy day in 1999. This concludes The Canadian National segments for the program.

Moving onto Canadian Pacific country on a week before the switching chores (June 17, 1996), a westbound coal train from Sparwood is shown at Fernie BC. The lead units are wide cab engines 9516, and 9521. In the middle of the coal train, is wide cab unit 9536.

On Thursday June 24, 1999 (the day Union Pacific 844 had a boiler explosion at the California state Railroad museum�s railfair �99), a chase of the mixed CP train is shown heading to the USA border at Kingsgate. The starting point is at Cranbrook. Power for this train are engines 5950, 5703, and 5496. Near Swansea, a reflection shot was made. At Moyie lake, the train is still Slowing down through some bends as the noise of automobiles roar by off screen. Next the freight rolls by the other side of the lake at Moyie BC. West of Moyie, the freight is making a reflection shot at the Moyie River. Next the train is 13 kilometers from Yahk near the US border. Arriving at Yahk BC near the border, the freight blares it horn through the crossing as the rain is falling from the sky. After the Canadian railroading is done, there is some BNSF action beginning with an auto rack that has a blue and yellow Santa Fe unit between the cars and the BNSF unit at Athol cut south of sandpoint Idaho near the hot spot of the funnel. Finally the program comes to a close as another BNSF freight is rolling by, this time it is south of Athol as a red and silver Santa Fe warbonet number 501 with its own RS5T horn, and Burlington northern cascade green unit 3114 rolls by with a mixed train.

While Union Pacific in the 90s from 2016 was the final diesel video in the GSVP market to have John Edward Hingsbergen�s narration before his November 2017 death, this was the very first diesel video to have Christopher Kovacs (Trainmaster844) narrating. And in the previews after this program was made, there is some previews of other Canadian titles as well as some other diesel related items that Hingsbergen narrated.

Additional remarks by Steamboy:
Narration: Just enough.
Would kids enjoy this? Maybe.
Image quality: Excellent!
DVD Value: Seemed a little high, but not too bad.
Recommend to others? Yes.

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