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Favorite Railroading Books and DVDs

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Favorite Railroading Books and DVDs
Posted by NWP SWP on Wednesday, December 06, 2017 8:48 PM

What would you consider to be your favorite railroad related books and DVDs on the market? I would say for  me my favorites would be: for prototype videos from the transition era would be Green Frog's "Golden Twilight of Postwar Steam" videos and "Steam in the 1950s" and prototype books would be John Signor's "Tehachapi Pass" and Donner Pass" I'm sure the "Shasta Division" will be just as good.

Anyone else have a favorite book or DVD?

Steven

Crooner, Imagineer, High School Senior, and President of the NWP-SWP System.

Modeling the combined lines of the Southern Pacific, Western Pacific, and Northern Pacific after a fictional Depression Era merger forming the SouthWestern Pacific and NorthWestern Pacific Railroads. SP, WP, and NP operations remain independent but also operate alongside NWP and SWP equipment.

Hook'em Longhorns! 

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Posted by tstage on Wednesday, December 06, 2017 9:14 PM

For the most part the "best" answers are going to vary according to the prototype(s) one models.  Therefore, there will be a whole slew of "bests" offered.

Maybe it would be more advantageous to list one's favorite prototype-specific and non prototype-specific books and DVDs...

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Posted by NWP SWP on Wednesday, December 06, 2017 9:18 PM

I meant favorite sorry!

Steven

Crooner, Imagineer, High School Senior, and President of the NWP-SWP System.

Modeling the combined lines of the Southern Pacific, Western Pacific, and Northern Pacific after a fictional Depression Era merger forming the SouthWestern Pacific and NorthWestern Pacific Railroads. SP, WP, and NP operations remain independent but also operate alongside NWP and SWP equipment.

Hook'em Longhorns! 

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Posted by Southgate on Wednesday, December 06, 2017 11:26 PM

Kalmbach's "Steam's Finest Hour" (found one in good shape on Amazon) and Model Railroader Cylopedia Volume One (Kalmbach) Steam Locomotives.  Dan

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Posted by PRR8259 on Thursday, December 07, 2017 7:13 AM

Fred Frailey's Twilight of the Great Trains.  Wonderful book about the waning years of pre-Amtrak passenger service.  Railroad by railroad explanation of what they did right (Santa Fe and ACL/SCL, the true believers) and what they did wrong (Southern Pacific and so many more).

It's a must read.  Parts of it are heartbreaking.  Santa Fe almost stayed out of Amtrak, and they wanted to go their own way, but the numbers changed fast once the mail contract ended.  Tales of railroad passenger agents who died the day after the last train runs...

Videos:  It depends upon one's interest.  DM&IR Yellowstones, Giants of Steam, by Greg Scholl is a great video indeed, for steam fans.

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Posted by Paul3 on Thursday, December 07, 2017 9:45 AM

Yeah, this thread will be heavily biased towards one's favorite road.  I'm no exception as my favorite railroad book is "New Haven Power" by Jack Swanberg and my favorite film is "A Great Railroad At Work", which was a New Haven RR produced film.  There's even a half dozen copies online, and here's one:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5Q06EFEqjg

Perhaps a more interesting question would be, "What is your favorite book/film that is not based on your favorite railroad?"

In that case, it would probably be "The Railroad Caboose" by William F. Knapke for the book, and the "Railfanning with the Bednars" series of DVD's.  I don't model that area or that era, but listening to them narrate the films is great and so different from the usual railfan videos.  It's not just, "There goes a Conrail train," it's "There's John Smith at the controls of TV-9.  He had a reputation as a fast engineer."  Because the Bednars weren't just railfans, but were also employees as well.  One example is that Mike Bednar was railfanning out back of his house with his father who had the video camera.  The local switcher came by, stopped, and asked Mike if he wanted to run the train.  Sure, no problem.  He climbed up on the power and away they went.  Find that in any other railfan vid.

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Posted by wjstix on Thursday, December 07, 2017 10:55 AM

The books that I've had a long time, but still keep going back to often, would be Staufer & May's "Thoroughbreds" (re NYC Hudsons), Pat Dorin's "Lake Superior Iron Ore Railroads", and Frank King's three books on northeast Minnesota railroading ("Minnesota Logging Railroads", and his two books on the DM&IR).

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Posted by Lone Wolf and Santa Fe on Thursday, December 07, 2017 11:37 AM

    My favorite DVDs are: Donner Pass Thunder (Charles Smiley Presents), and the Donner combo DVD (Pentrex) which includes The Battle for Donner Pass and Across Donner Summit. Both are full of great Southern Pacific footage.
    Donner Pass Thunder includes the early history of the Central Pacific and the Transcontinental railroad, The Pacific Fruit Express, and more. It also includes some great footage from an Amtrak train in it’s first year traveling over the pass during a blizzard.
    The Battle for Donner Pass includes an inside look at the snow fighting crew and equipment as they use Jordan Spreaders and rotary snowplows to clear the tracks.
    You would probably enjoy both of them. I usually watch them this time of year to see the snow.

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Posted by groundeffects on Thursday, December 07, 2017 1:42 PM
Hi there,
 
My favorite railroading books?  Well, they are mostly about western U.S. railroading subjects such as the Southern Pacific and Great Northern.  John Signor’s books “Donner Pass”,” Tehachapi” and “Southern Pacific’s Coast Line” are some of my favorites on the subject, but I also have a 2 volume collection of Southern Pacific Depots of California”.  A few years ago at a local train show, I purchased “Diesels over Donner” (by Richard Steinheimer), which was always one of my favorite S.P. books to read when I visited the rail library next to the California Railroad Museum in Sacramento.  It’s nice to now own a copy of that book.  Not S.P. related, but is still a great read is “The Great Northern Railway” which was published by Pacific Fast Mail back in 1979.  This was another one of those great books I was glad to finally add to my collection.
 
I don’t buy too many railroad DVD’s, but I do have some favorites.  They include “Last run of a cab forward over Donner Pass” and “Santa Fe 3759-Final run over Cajon Pass”.  The Santa Fe Video is a favorite, as I have some old photos of my Dad and Grandpa when they took this train trip back in 1955.  I’ve never actually seen either of them in the video, but it’s still pretty cool.
 
Jeff B
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Posted by Graham Line on Thursday, December 07, 2017 3:11 PM

Favorite books? That's pretty subjective. A few people have promised books on the UP in Idaho, but none have made it to press.

Most DVDs send me to sleep, but two stand out:

Catenary Productions "Sacramento Northern" is well-organized and well-narrated, with first-rate vintage film.

Charlie Comstock's "Hot Trains: Alcomania" based on his home HO layout has far better sound and visuals than most model videos. It's available from [online source removed by moderator] and there are still a few copies on the shelf in hobby stores around Portland OR.

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Posted by jk10 on Thursday, December 07, 2017 9:15 PM

I've been on a spending spree of late picking up books about the Chicago & North Western, Chicago Great Western, and Wisconsin Central. I'm also on the hunt for a Milwaukee Road, Rock Island, and Dakota, Minnesota, & Eastern book. Most are by Minnesota author John Luecke. Intrigued by the prototype in the area I plan to model for track plans and industry ideas. 

Modeling books, I have a few by Lance Mindheim for the switching layouts. Other than that, I have the standards that others have mentioned, "V&O Story" and others from legendary model railroaders to learn how to design, build, and operate a future layout. 

As far as videos, I have only purchased a few. Three about the Wisconsin Central, one respectively on the Twin Cities & Western and another about Progressive Rail in Minnesota. Planning to get a few about the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern or other railroads in Minnesota to help with research. Otherwise, I watch a lot of YouTube videos or have them playing while I'm working around the house or relaxing. 

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Posted by mbinsewi on Thursday, December 07, 2017 9:46 PM

My favorite "how to" books, back when I got serious about a layout, were HO PRIMER Model Railroading For All, by Linn Westcott, I think I have the 1982 printing, and, REALISTIC MODEL RAILROAD SCENERY, by Dave Frary, also the 1982 printing.  I also bought a book from Atlas, to go along with the HO PRIMER book, on setting up cab control.  I used this same method on my current layout, going DCC, but I gapped both rails. 

No DVD's, what I want to watch, I can find on YouTube.

Currently, I subscribe to Trains, Model Railroader, the digital archives.  All this seems to give me what ever I'm looking for, and satisfy my railroad "fix", along with railfanning the CN and WSOR, and tweeking my layout with more details.

Mike.

EDIT:  I should also add I'm a WC fan, and former stock holder.  When the CN take-over took place, we recieved a check for our shares, as the CN did not roll our shares into theirs, so I also constanly watch, and search for, WC videos on YouTube.

I also love the old videos that Gmpullman, Ulrich, and Batman post.

 

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Posted by marksrailroad on Thursday, December 07, 2017 9:48 PM

My favorite train books and videos are those that show old steam locos from the 40s and 50s in action... I also enjoy seeing old vintage rolling stock.

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Posted by NWP SWP on Sunday, December 10, 2017 12:20 PM

Anyone have opinions on Charles Smiley Presents videos?

Steven

Crooner, Imagineer, High School Senior, and President of the NWP-SWP System.

Modeling the combined lines of the Southern Pacific, Western Pacific, and Northern Pacific after a fictional Depression Era merger forming the SouthWestern Pacific and NorthWestern Pacific Railroads. SP, WP, and NP operations remain independent but also operate alongside NWP and SWP equipment.

Hook'em Longhorns! 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, December 10, 2017 6:08 PM

I don't have it handy, but my favorite railroading book ever was about the crews and operations of the Polish armoured artillery trains during the war with Germany in September, 1939.

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That was high stress railroading! These were fully enclosed steam powered trains that fought for weeks in a losing war. It is based on a lot of interviews and research of artifacts. 

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It was published in England. If I can get to it I will post more detail.

.

-Kevin

.

Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

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Posted by Lone Wolf and Santa Fe on Monday, December 11, 2017 12:33 PM

NWP SWP

Anyone have opinions on Charles Smiley Presents videos?

 

I like them. He doesn't have a golden throat like some narrators have but his videos are good. Not only is there a lot of footage of trains, he also uses pictures and graphics and tells the story in a narrative style. Some other production companies just have random footage.

Modeling a fictional version of California set in the 1990s Lone Wolf and Santa Fe Railroad
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Posted by mbinsewi on Monday, December 11, 2017 12:52 PM

My wife brought a book home that was given to her by one of her clients.

"Decade Of The Trains, the 1940's", by Don Ball, Jr., and Rogers E. M. Whitaker.

This is going to be a good read.  All about the railroads involment in WWII.  I might learn a thing or two about steam locomotives!

The wife takes him my back issues of TRAINS, he loves them.  This man has a small library of books on railroading, and a china cabinet size display case full of unpainted brass locomotives.  He never had a layout, just collects.  He's down-sizing for a future move to an independent living facility.

Mike.

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Posted by SouthPenn on Monday, December 11, 2017 3:27 PM

About the only railroad book I own is 'Model Railroading with John Allen'. Excellent.

I have a few DVDs. Most of them are about places I will never get to visit. Tehachapi Loop, Colorado Model Railroad Museum, Canadian Pacific, and others.

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Posted by IRONROOSTER on Monday, December 11, 2017 4:26 PM

SouthPenn

About the only railroad book I own is 'Model Railroading with John Allen'. Excellent.

I have a few DVDs. Most of them are about places I will never get to visit. Tehachapi Loop, Colorado Model Railroad Museum, Canadian Pacific, and others.

 

That's one of my favorite books too.

Also

The Ma&Pa by George Hilton

Interurban Interlude by E.J. Quinby

Maine Two-Footers by Linwood Moody

and several others.

Model Railroad books include anything by John Armstrong.

Paul

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Posted by DavidH66 on Monday, December 11, 2017 6:12 PM
I love readin' old Railfan&railroad and Trains magazine, I bought several in an estate sale a few months ago and I'm loving them.
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Posted by NWP SWP on Tuesday, December 12, 2017 11:45 AM

What would be the favorites for western US railroads? I'm looking for steam and early diesel era. I'm wanting to buy a few but I can't find any early enough, I'm talking DVDs.

Steven

Crooner, Imagineer, High School Senior, and President of the NWP-SWP System.

Modeling the combined lines of the Southern Pacific, Western Pacific, and Northern Pacific after a fictional Depression Era merger forming the SouthWestern Pacific and NorthWestern Pacific Railroads. SP, WP, and NP operations remain independent but also operate alongside NWP and SWP equipment.

Hook'em Longhorns! 

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Posted by hardcoalcase on Tuesday, December 12, 2017 5:47 PM

As an "historic" (c.1910) modeler, my go-to reference and idea book is The American Railroad Freight Car - From the Wood-Car Era to the Coming of Steel, by John H. White, Jr.  Its a large book, a mere 644 pages thick.

Jim

 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, December 12, 2017 6:31 PM

SouthPenn
About the only railroad book I own is 'Model Railroading with John Allen'. Excellent.

.

That is the only model railroad book that I know I read every word of.

.

I think that one is THE book of model railroading.

.

-Kevin

.

Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Thursday, December 14, 2017 3:57 PM

Books:

19 East, Copy Three

Rights of Trains

Know Thy Hudsons

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Thursday, December 14, 2017 4:03 PM

NWP SWP

Anyone have opinions on Charles Smiley Presents videos?

They have a couple of longer length previews, you have to look around for them.  Watch a bunch of the free previews to get an idea of how they format the video presentations.  My opinion:  They are okay, somewhat broken record with the repeating of similar phrases to make a point, which is somewhat annoying.

I havent noticed any factual errors in them.

I like Greg Scholl videos somewhat better.   GSVP does not use dubbed over train sounds for historic vidoes, so any video that did not have sound recorded with it has music and most have narration.

I believe that Charles Smiley does this as well (not dubbing generic sounds over).

Rule 108: In case of doubt or uncertainty, the safe course must be taken.

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