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Earle Baldwin

Vignettes of the Jersey Central Lines Volume 1

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"Vignettes of the Jersey Central Lines Volume 1" is a sixty minute video originally released by Clear Block Productions in 1996. The program covers primarily the time period of 1948 to 1965. It begins at the railroad's eastern terminus of Jersey City with views of its ferry operations. Also seen are floats loaded with freight cars destined to or coming from New York City's many freight yards. Coverage then progresses west and stops at numerous locations including Atlantic Highlands, Red Bank, South Amboy, Freehold, Cranford, High Bridge, Green Pond, Easton, Bethlehem, Allentown, Mauch Chunk (Jim Thorpe), Glen Onoko, Ashley and Wilkes-Barre.

 

Since much of the program's material was filmed as CNJ was transitioning from steam to diesel locomotives, a pleasing mix of both types of motive power is included. The road's famous Camelback and G Class Pacific locomotives put in several appearances. In fact, a generous amount of coverage is extended to an excursion powered by the 774 which traversed both the Freehold and Seashore Branches. Views of the 774 negotiating the wye at Atlantic Highlands are priceless, particularly for those familiar with the make up of the present day municipal harbor complex in that town which now features several restaurants, the Shore Casino (a well known area catering hall), a playground, concert bandshell and a large parking lot for the town's many waterborne attractions. Back in the day, this property was part of Jersey Central's extensive presence in this community!

 

Diesel fans will not be disappointed in this program. The railroad's early diesels including F3's, Baldwin cab units, ALCo road switchers galore and Fairbanks-Morse Train Masters are well represented. The mid 60's marked the proliferation of second generation diesels and CNJ's brand new SD35 and second hand SD40 units obtained from parent Baltimore and Ohio are spotted. In fact, one sequence in the Cumberland, MD area shows a B&O eastbound freight with two factory fresh SD35's en route to delivery to CNJ. The assortment of diesel types presented on this program is in stark contrast to the very standardized types currently in service on our nation's Class One railroads!

 

In its heyday, CNJ offered connections to several roads in numerous locations and motive power of the connecting roads has not been neglected. At Red Bank, we see Baldwin passenger cab units and a gas electric "doodlebug" belonging to the famous Pennsylvania Railroad. Moving east along the NY&LB to South Amboy, we are treated to a view of a Raritan River 0-6-0 switching the interchange. Other foreign power observed includes Lackawanna Train Masters on a detouring freight, ALCo road switchers of the New York Susquehanna and Western, assorted Lehigh Valley locomotives, Lehigh and Hudson River RS3's, ALCo, Baldwin and EMD units of sister company Reading and some F7's of B&O and Norfolk and Western ownership. All in all, this is quite a tempting smorgasbord of equipment!

 

The majority of the video features color film, however, some of the older segments are in black and white. Accurate locomotive sounds have been matched to the originally silent fims. Given the age of much of the material, it is satisfactory in clarity and is extended high marks. Although my copy of the program is in VHS format, it is now available as a DVD for $30. The disc comes packaged in a very attractive clamshell case. An image of the cover artwork may be viewed at the following link:

 

http://www.train-video.com/vjc1dvd.html

 

The website for Clear Block Productions is http://www.clearblockdvd.com.

 

As I write this review on December 24th, I would like to take a moment to wish you all the healthiest and happiest of holiday seasons and may you all receive that special addition for your own collection even if you have to give it to yourself!!!! :P

 

Happy holiday railroading,

 

Earle

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