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Susquehanna Spectacular

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[float=right]susquehanna%20spect%20dvd-2.jpg[/float]Until the early 1980's, the New York, Susquehanna & Western Railroad was an independently owned short line railroad with operations headquartered in Little Ferry, NJ. At that time, freight service was operated as far as Butler to the north, Edgewater to the east and Jersey City to the south. NYS&W had formerly offered commuter and express package service as well; however, its physical plant had fallen into a state of disrepair and the railroad was tetering on the verge of abandonment.


Enter Delaware Otsego Corporation, a respected short line railroad operator based in Cooperstown, NY. Following DO's takeover of the Susquehanna during the early 1980's, the railroad was transformed into a premier regional carrier. Its operations were expanded into New York State and much of the right of way which had been out of service for decades before DO's acquisition was restored to operating condition to handle increased traffic. Thanks to innovative marketing, NYS&W began to haul Sea-Land container traffic which helped establish it as a formidable competitor to Conrail in the region. The Susquehanna had finally evolved into the transportation force its founders had envisioned.


Released in 1988 by Mark 1 Video, "Susquehanna Spectacular" is a 107 minute celebration of the railroad's success story. It begins with a detailed history which includes archival film of steam power, early ALCo diesels, Budd Rail Diesel Cars, stainless steel commuter equipment and stylish "Motorailers" built by ACF. The story then takes us through the lean years of the 60's and 70's when the now decrepit ALCo S2's and RS1's were joined by three EMD GP18's providing local freight service along a dilapidated, weed infested right of way. The outlook brightens as DO acquires the railroad and we are treated to images of the new Susquehanna. A never ending parade of impressive stack trains are seen. They are powered by a pleasing variety of locomotives including C430's, F45's and SD45's. The sound of the EMD 45 series 20 cylinder prime movers is music to the ears as the trains battle their way over the grades. Supplementing these images are those of companion Delaware Otesego properties such as former Chessie System freight operations on Staten Island Rapid Transit including a magnificent scene of a westbound freight crossing AK into Bayway. We also see Rahway Valley's General Electric 70 ton units at work.


Much involving the Susquehanna has changed since the release of the program. Conrail was split between CSX and Norfolk Southern in 1999, changing the region's competitive balance considerably. The majority of DO stock was subsequently purchased by CSX and NS. NYS&W is not nearly as busy as it was when "Susquehanna Spectacular" was released since much of the railroad's former volume is now routed via CSX's River Line to Selkirk although local on line volume remains healthy and occasional through freights still polish the rails. That said, "Susquahanna Spectacular" has become even more significant as it offers us the opportunity to view the railroad at the peak of its success.


The program is available for $29.95 in DVD format and $31.95 on trusty VHS. The website is www.mark1video.com.





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