Railroad Film Night returns for its first presentation of its fourth year with a series of vintage 16-mm movies presented by Mitch Dakelman, film curator for the National Railway Historical Society.

A highlight of the program is "Thundering Rails." Universal-International produced this exciting, action-packed 18-minute, black and white sound film in 1950, as a theatrical release short subject.

"The film includes most the striking sequence I've ever seen in railroad filmmaking," Dakelman noted. "Four cameras set at track level capture the speed of four first-generation diesels on the Rockville Bridge crossing the Susquehanna River.

"The program documents railroad history, through films from the 1930s to 1960s, the Golden Era of Railroads. Some of the greatest trains in the United States ran at that time."

Produced and sponsored by Pufferbellys Railroad Gifts in Jim Thorpe and the Carbon Model Railroad Society of Bowmanstown, the free program will be held Wednesday, March 23 at 7 p.m. at the Jim Thorpe Memorial Hall, East 10th Street off Route 903 in East Jim Thorpe.

Four films and a Bugs Bunny cartoon are scheduled, with a possibility of an additional film if time permits. The films are: "A Compilation of Films of the DL&W, EL, PRR, L&HR, and the Reading," "The California Zephyr," "Thundering Rails," and the "Nickel Plate Story."

The "DL&W, EL, PRR, L&HR, Reading," filmed between 1934 and 1962, consists of camera-original film, not seen in public for many years. It shows steam trains operating on the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western's cutoff at Blairstown, N.J. in 1934, along with regular service K4s Steam locomotives operating on what is now the Amtrak Northeast Corridor, also filmed in 1934.

The film includes some Lehigh and Hudson steam action, and several cab rides on the Lackawanna in the early Erie-Lackawanna era. It also includes a Reading ramble which operated to West Milton via Tamaqua and the Catawissa Branch, where diesels pulled the train.

"The California Zephyr" is a 30-minute color and sound film produced to promote the famous western train of the title's name.

Inaugurated in March 1949, the film was made shortly thereafter, showing the original diesel-electric locomotives that pulled the train, including ALCO-GE PA locomotives which pulled the Rio Grande segment between Denver and Salt Lake City. Although the train was discontinued in 1970, service was reintroduced in 1983 by Amtrak.

Universal-International produced "Thundering Rails," an exciting, 18-minute, black and white sound film in 1950, showcases American steam and diesel action. The highlight is the multi-camera setup at Rockville Bridge on the Pennsylvania Railroad where four sets of diesels were run side-by-side over the bridge, being captured by several cameras from several low-level positions.

The New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad (a.k.a. Nickel Plate) produced the "Nickel Plate Story," an 18-minute color and sound film, showcasing its well known 2-8-4 Lima-built Berkshire steam locomotives, one of which, #759, is displayed at Steamtown in Scranton.

A second Berkshire, #765, owned by the Fort Wayne Historical Society, is in operating condition.

Free refreshments are available. For information, call 610-824-7730, or email: trolleys@ptd.net [1].