Greg Gerlach Producer

Greg Gerlach

A Message from the producer:

Isn’t it exciting when you get to visit a railroad and experience the thrill of riding on a train? It really gets the old heart pumping. Trouble is, there are so many interesting railroads in our country, it’s virtually impossible for you to visit them all. Now, thanks to an exciting video such as Great American Train Adventures, you can do the next best thing: Ride four fabulous railroads via one comprehensive video, professionally produced by Gerlach Productions.

I filmed Great American Train Adventures in 1995. The original footage was shot in standard def NTSC 4:3 and edited on a BetaCam SP master tape. The current DVD version was digitally enhanced from that master, and I added side bar graphics so it would fit the NTSC 16:9 widescreen format. The running time is 45 minutes.

Here are some notes on each of the four DVD chapters:

I was reading one of the popular train magazines and saw an interesting article on a live steam layout somewhere in Florida. I was fascinated with the fact that someone had their very own miniature railroad right in their backyard. I hoped that one day I could actually visit the railroad and meet the man who built it. It took me more than a decade to track down John Cassady and his Possum Flats & Eastern Railroad. Talk about an exciting experience! Mere photographs simply don’t do the layout justice. The tracks wind their way through the jungle-like landscape and vegetation found in central Florida, crossing over bridges and even snaking through a tunnel.

Here’s what we did so that people like you can have the chance to experience the Possum Flats & Eastern: First of all, we took plenty of shots of the trains running on the layout. We even mounted a camera on the front of the engine and took a complete trip around the layout so you can see exactly what it’s like to ride it! On top of that, we interviewed John Cassady. You’ll hear him talk about the history of his railroad and how some of the equipment was built.

What’s the largest model railroad you’ve ever seen? For me, it was the Chattanooga Southern in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It was so big, it took the trains up to five minutes to travel each of the many mainlines. We videotaped just about every conceivable angle of this massive layout; it truly was a masterpiece. Members of the model railroad club which maintained the Chattanooga Southern appear on the video to explain how they built a world-class layout. We made sure to get plenty of close-ups to show the detail of the impressive landscaping and literally hundreds of buildings and structures. Up in the control tower we got some great shots of the control panel which in itself is about the size of a small layout.

I used to be a TV news videographer. I’ve shot video all around the world in all kinds of interesting places: deep down in coal mines, high in the sky in jets and across the water in high speed motor boats. But nothing compares with the thrill of shooting from inside the cab of Old Number 152 as it rumbled down the tracks in scenic central Kentucky. Oh sure, it was as hot as a blast furnace and the black cinders were blowing into my face, but it was an experience I’ll never forget. Before the excursion, a member of the crew explained to me how the gauges and levers worked and I captured his comments on video tape.

The fourth railroad featured on Great American Train Adventures is a busy short line called the TTI Railroad. One of the highlights of this section is a complete tour of a GE U-36 diesel including a look “under the hood” to see the engines and generators. You’ll ride a TTI coal train through scenic limestone cuts, over breathtaking trestles and through a long, dark mountain tunnel. At the end of the line, you’ll get to see how all of the coal is unloaded and dumped into a river barge. We’ll also take you inside a railroad repair shop where the massive locomotives are taken apart and overhauled. You’ll see what it’s like behind the scenes of a real railroad; you’ll even join a track repair crew as they operate a new automated track and ballast regulating machine.

I hope you enjoy watching Great American Train Adventures as much as I did producing it.


Greg Gerlach