by Karl M. Bernard
Review of the video:
Very educational! That's how I would describe this new video documenting the KCS as of October 1999.
I must confess that I was confused at first by the hype on the outside of the box:
"No More Mindless Runbys"
"What could be more mindless," thought I, "than showing entire unit trains of more than a hundred identical coal cars?" What I didn't realize was that this tape is more filled with extremely informative narration than any rail video I've ever seen. It does a wonderful job of identifying each train, explaining its origin and destination, detailing its cargoes, and providing the viewer with more information than most of us would even think to ask about a train. There are even summaries of the history of the various lines. The result is an education on KCS's business and operations. This is a true documentary!
The video is divided into three sections, each one centered on a different line from the railway's hub at Shreveport: the Ouachita Mountains to the north; the ex-MidSouth to the east; and the Port Arthur line to the south. Helpful and accurate on-screen maps are included for each section, as is a track profile for the mountain section. These are features sorely needed in many other videos. In each of the three sections, approximately 24 hours of traffic are shown, leaving nothing out. Unusual for videos, even night trains are included. This is accomplished using illumination that is both effective and impressive.
The tape runs two hours and eight minutes. All told, there are 49 different KCS trains shown plus one Louisiana & North West train. Photo locations are at or near the following points: Page, Rich Mountain, Eagleton, Mena, Potter, Vandervoort, Wickes, Sibley, Gibsland, Arcadia, Simsboro, Many, Fisher, Florien, Anacoco, and Leesville. The quality and clarity of the images and sound are excellent. The editing is good, with a couple of minor exceptions.
There are a few errors in the narration: The Ouachita Mountains are incorrectly called the Ozarks; there are references to "Siloam Springs, Oklahoma," and to "Pittsburg, Missouri" (should be Arkansas and Kansas, respectively); Arcadia is described as 80 miles east of Gibsland instead of eight; and wood chip cars with bottom-discharge hatches are called "wood chip gondolas" rather than hoppers. It is only fair to note, however, that these errors are few, considering the wealth of information contained in the video.
To summarize: This tape has a place in any KCS video collection. Furthermore, it has definite value to the person desiring a better understanding of contemporary KCS operations and cargoes, regardless of whether he collects videos or not.
This tape was produced, directed, written, and
narrated by Dick Eisfeller of
Big "E" Productions
Review by Lowell G. McManus
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION DISCLOSURE: The producer of the reviewed product provided a complimentary copy of the product to the reviewer for the purpose of the review.