Steamin’ Summer, Volumes 1-3

YARD GOAT DVDS. Yard Goat Images, 112 3rd Ave., N.E., Minneapolis, MN 55413

Here’s a three-pack of DVDs that is sure to get you through the summer and early fall.  Sit back and relax as you sample various steam runs and railroad museums from the Rock Island, Illinois Train Festival in 2011 to Southern Railway steam at the Monticello, Illinois Railroad Museum to the Little River Railroad’s #110 steamer celebrating 100 years.

With heat nearing 100 degrees in the Midwest in 2011, this potpourri of steam footage was doubly appreciated by railfans; but the cabs of the steam locos were pretty uncomfortable.  In Volume I, the Little River Railroad in Coldwater, Michigan threw a three-day party for their 100-year-old 4-6-2 Pacific logging locomotive.  Three visiting tank engines, Viscose Company #6, Flagg Coal #75, and Lehigh Valley Coal #126 were guests of honor.  Little River Railroad #1, also a tank engine, made for a total of five steam engines.

The first two days featured four daily trips between Coldwater and Quincy, each pulled by one of the tank engines, and a longer trip to Hillsdale, Michigan pulled by #110.  On day three, all five engines teamed up to power two trips to Quincy; talk about smoke and steam and action.

Following their operation on the Little River Railroad, all three visiting tank engines participated in the four-day Rock Island Train Festival.  This program shows how the engines were loaded on trucks and shipped over the highway.

In Volume 2, which is 80 minutes long, Iowa Interstate Railroad’s two Chinese QJs traveled to the Rock Island festival as a doubleheader, the first day with a passenger consist from Newton to Iowa City.  The next day the locos brought a record-setting 55-car freight train to Rock Island.  The DVD shows the first look at QJ #6988 after some cosmetic changes and a new whistle made it appear and sound more like a North American steam locomotive.  Next the program covers a portion of Nickel Plate #765’s journey across Indiana on the Toledo, Peoria & Western Railway.

The Silver Creek & Stephenson at Freeport, Illinois scheduled a Photographer’s Special between the events at Little River Railroad and the Rock Island Train Festival.  Great steam action was provided by a 1912 Heisler, plus a Brookville “critter” as well as antique cars and trucks.  The DVD goes on to capture more footage at the Rock Island Train Festival, which brought together seven steam locomotives.

In Volume 3, which lasts 87 minutes, the Rock Island Train Festival is again featured, as is seeing the #765 travel home across Illinois to Logansport, Indiana.  This chapter features QJ #6988 with an all-day run to Iowa City and QJ #7081 on two Walcott, Iowa trips on Day 3.  More coverage begins with the historic diesel-powered Nebraska Zephyr trainset on an all-day journey to Bureau Junction, Illinois and an afternoon Walcott trip.  In addition, footage is shown of the doubleheaded QJs returning to Newton, Iowa carrying two Iowa Interstate business cars and a short freight train.

Last, we travel to Monticello where we see the growing Monticello Railway Museum on a warm August weekend.  The museum’s newest operating locomotive, Southern #401, a beautiful 2-8-0 built in 1907, is under steam.  On display at the museum since 1971, it returned to steam in 2010 and operates one weekend per month.  The #401 was brought out of the northern Alabama hill country on three flatcars: one for the boiler, one for the tender and one for an extra set of drivers.  The Monticello museum has a large collection of operating diesels, freight and passenger cars, as well as miles of track on which to operate.  The museum is located in Illinois Central and Wabash country and features a number of pieces from each of these roads.

I enjoyed all three of these DVDs, from the non-stop action to the broad range of locomotive types to being able to enjoy all these trains and museums without having suffered the terrible heat of summer.  All the footage is professionally recorded, and a small four-page information sheet in each DVD holder provides a quick outline of each program.

–Don Heimburger