The famous Tennessee Pass line is presented when it was a booming, but ill-fated, line. Steep 3% grades and trains with up to 40,000 bellowing HP are featured! We bring many types of coal, taconite, boxcar trains and much more. This video was created from a wealth of expeditions to capture video scenes by three video camera operators in the 1990s. All the seasons are featured in this video.
We feature train meets and some great high-speed pacing action that defied the local highway patrol folks -- luckily!
From Pueblo’s Yards to Dotsero, Colorado, where the Moffat line is met, the coverage captures the beauty and multitude of challenges of this original and historic line. We outline the lines history, and its importance. before its final demise when the UP finally gathered up the Rio Grande property. This video was shot with two cameras for most scenes -- and in some scenes, three camera operators were used to cover all the exciting angles.
Learn the history of how the line was formed by the idealism of retired General Palmer and his rival battles with the fledgling Santa Fe Railway. You won’t have many lingering questions about the history and formation of this line built long before the more efficient “Moffat Line”.
The Tennessee Pass line was the highest U.S. mainline at 10,000-ft. altitude – at least when it was still an active line. Soon after the UP bought the combined SP-Rio Grande line, this unusual and beautifully scenic line was shut down. The steep grades, and massive need for helpers, made it unattractive to UP’s way of running trains. But all those unpleasant issues were exactly what made Tennessee Pass so compelling to generations of railfans. Our many maps, generated expressly for this video, will keep you well informed.
To quote Trains magazine, “Looking for a fine contemporary film to go with this months Tennessee Pass article? Well Charles Smiley has it, and it's a great guide! See a smattering of GE and older EMDs as they struggle up the highest mainline in North America.”
DVD version only
The revised and expanded version on DVD has more Rio Grande vintage film from various other operations featuring freight and the Rio Grande Zephyr passenger train. Additional material follows a backwoods, branch line local behind a pair of fresh, clean GP30s. All added material was shot on movie film long ago featuring lots of beautiful scenery.