I filmed over a four year period the Southern Pacific 2472 in Niles Canyon. Along on most of these adventures Matt from this forum did most of the original location sound. The engine is in storage in Schellville, California now. I have over 30 hours of HD video that we made into an hour DVD for the Golden Gate RR Museum. Now that the steam engine is not in operation and hopefully will run again, I'm thinking of a new Bluray DVD in HD. This is a huge project. We have stories of RPO car and interviews with some of the original RPO folks, engineers, fireman, and many more. My question is, do RR people still buy DVDs? Would love to know your opinion on this project. Included in this post are a few shots I put together. Keep in mind, these shots are not color corrected, sound is not adjusted and in some cases not there at all. This will take me over a month to finish so please let me know your thoughts. Don

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I for one would love to see a DVD of 2472. I have several photos and video of it both at Niles and when it was first put back into operation. I remember when it ran excursion on the SP commuter line between San Francisco and San Jose. Even when it doubled headed with 4449 to Los Angeles.

So would I buy the DVD, you bet I would. I think the story needs to be shared with others that have yet to see this piece of history in operation. And if you throw in some shots of the other engines in operation at Nile Canyon, what would be a nice bonus. 

And like you, I do hope she is back in service in the coming year or two.


I'd love to see the video, but I don't buy DVDs. First of all, I don't even have a way to play them (laptop doesn't have a disc drive). Secondly, there's so many high quality videos on YouTube available for free, I just can't justify paying ~$30 most train videos cost. Even $10 is a lot more than free. I totally understand the amount of effort required to make a high quality program, but personally, the only way I would see it is if it were just on YouTube.

Produce the video, upload it to Vimeo, set it up as an “On Demand” Video (not downloadable or shareable) and charge $2.99 for it. No discs, no packaging, no shipping, etc. Just promote it on line and collect the money.

That’s where the market is going.

Rich Melvin

Hi Don,

I think your Blu-Ray DVD would be a great idea but like others I agree that the market for buying DVDs probably isn't going to last for much longer with many going to subscription based premium channels and movie rentals like Netflix, Amazon, Youtube Red, YoutubeTV, and Patreon.

I have to honestly disagree with Vimeo being a potential platform for your DVD given your very high quality and well composed material. Vimeo doesn't gather nearly the attention and views that the other big players get and that's mostly because Vimeo just isn't a well thought out platform. It's akin to Tumblr and Flickr...good ideas just not well executed and clunky IMO. If I were in your shoes I would be taking a hard look at Amazon. Amazon and its premium platform, Amazon Prime, offer the consumer to buy or rent your DVD, in electronic form of course, and house it within their personal account library for as long as they rent it or if they just bought it outright for a higher set price. 

Furthermore, if you see yourself in the future doing smaller videos released at regular intervals with still the same high level premium content I would take a hard look at Patreon. Many of the top Youtube earners are now switching over to that platform due to its overall better ability for creators to earn money on the things they work hard to create versus having to deal with the Youtube/Google scalpers.  

Thanks Rich. I'm sure with your past experiences in video production yourself you are well aware of how much the market can change for a product you have worked hard to make. Don's material, which I have viewed extensively over the years through his posts here, is really some of the best video recorded steam action today. It's right up there with the likes of Joseph Fusco (search his name on Youtube) in that it is well composed, exposed and thought out overall. Most of all like Joe's work Don doesn't just take you to every crossing for one 3/4 wedge shot after another. As a consumer, that makes all the difference.

Not everyone has access to the latest and greatest.  I have no cable (unavailable) or satellite (unreliable in the extreme in our area).  There is no connection between my internet and my TV, and the 'net is far too slow to watch streaming video of any kind.  I do have a DVD player (and two VCRs).  My circumstances are not unique outside of urban/suburban areas.

All of this is to say that the DVD market has not yet dried up.  I will--and do!--pay for discs because I can't watch anything any other way.

Frisco, MoPac, and T&P near Rolla, MO

Mike your making me blush. I have been blessed with one of the most important elements in shooting. Time! In the case of the 2472 I had full cooperation with the crews. We had time to set up shots and plan our filming days in advance sometimes. If I needed a steam blowout in a location they gave to me if at all possible. We set up shots like the one with the old pickup at a dirt crossings. If I badly missed a shot, they would back up the engine and do it again... sometimes.  Matt and I road the top of the tender on some brake test runs. John the fireman loved covering us with black smoke. You should have seen us at the end of the run. We mounted cameras all over the train and again, had the time to do it. Like Hitchcock, I seldom shoot as everyone sees the world. Very few shots are head high. Thank you guys for the good advise and encouragement. DonDSC_0605DSC_0192DSC_0420


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Don, the accolades are well deserved and I thoroughly look forward to your official trailer for your Blu-Ray DVD. If you include everything you expect to include and would like to include, I think the DVD will turn out fantastic. Getting interviews from people who are behind the scenes is really entertaining because they can tell stories and details beyond what even the locomotive has to offer. Besides, with the kind of access you were given as you stated above, I think even O. Winston Link would be jealous (and he could order a doubleheaded coal drag with two Class Y's by just a telephone call). 

Very nice! Love the driver footage...you were doing go-pro shots with non-go-pro equipment before it was cool! BTW, that wheel slip footage shows you why many engineers prefer a grapevine/front end throttle versus a steam dome one when slipping. Right @Rich Melvin

And don't worry Don, I noticed that video a long time ago from 2010. I'll be patiently awaiting the new version! 

You already talked me into getting a Hamms' sign ... As a former Bay Area native who watched the Hamms' sign at night, watched channel 2 (probably saw material produced by you), and spent high school years volunteering at Rio Vista Junction I guess I'd have to buy this Blue Ray if it came out.  I left the Bay Area before having an opportunity to see this locomotive but would've loved to.

As an aside and another connection to you, my first job out of college was working for Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays.  Had the wonderful opportunity to visit every major tourist island except Maui.  Even spent 10 days on Molokai.  Never went to Niihau or Kaho'olawe but would've liked to.

BYRDIE, "but wait there's more". You worked for Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays. My company (Journey Films) while working at KTVU shot and produced all the spots and promotional films for SunTrips of California. We flew my favorite plane, the L-1011. I could film anytime I had extra time or vacation. They even sent me and my then girl friend to "scout" for possible travel packages to the Caribbean. Don1083647M


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