Southern Pacific Cab Forward Collection

(5 customer reviews)

$39.95 $24.95

For nearly 47 years, the Southern Pacific Railroad relied upon its massive AC-type “Cab Forward” steam locomotives to haul freight and passenger trains throughout California and neighboring states.

For more about this product, click on the tabs below.

Availability: In stock

Purchase this product now and earn 125 Points!
SKU: DVD-PNX-PCCF Categories: , ,

For nearly 47 years, the Southern Pacific Railroad relied upon its massive AC-type steam locomotives to haul freight and passenger trains throughout California and neighboring states. Built to provide the power and flexibility demanded by the mountainous passes they traversed, these giants were constructed with their cab in front of the boiler, thus earning them the name Cab Forwards. The last Cab Forward revenue train ran in 1956, after which all but one were scrapped. From then on, film coverage of these AC-class engines was eagerly sought, hard to locate, and highly prized. Now, after years of research, Pentrex has assembled an awesome collection of footage and still images of SP AC-1s through AC-12s spanning the years 1927 to 1956.

You’ll see Cab Forwards in service on the Overland Route, the San Joaquin Line, the Sunset Route, the Coast Route, the Shasta Route, and the Modoc Line. You’ll thrill to incredible images of Cab Forwards in the snow, on grades, bridges, and scenic valleys; running with mid-train and rear-end helpers; teamed with Black Widow F-units and GS-class helpers; and in meets with other CF’s. The locomotives shown include nearly every class of Articulated Consolidation SP ever rostered: the Baldwin-built Cab Forwards and the Lima-built 3900 class AC-9s. Historic stills of the original cab forwards, the Baldwin-built MC, MM, and AM class engines, are also featured. Plus, author Dr. Bob Church and photographer Stan Kistler provide insightful insiders’ views. This is the most comprehensive record of the legendary Cab Forwards ever presented on film and it belongs in every railfan’s collection.

This is a Pentrex Best Seller.

Disc Format

Run Time


Technical Details

Year Published

Shrink Wrapped

5 reviews for Southern Pacific Cab Forward Collection

  1. collinvarney24

    The Southern Pacific’s cab forwards were awesome to watch pulling both freight and passenger trains and it shows a map of the route that the cab forwards from the overland route to the module line. It also tells the story about why cab forwards don’t double head on freight and the history of the first cab forwards design. Cab forward 4274 is seen pulling an excursion over donner pass as in the last run of a cab forward. This even shows SP 4294 being moved to it’s final resting place in the California State Railroad Museum and is now on display as the only cab forward in exist.

  2. Curtis Watson

    One of the coolest locomotives to have ever existed! Very glad these films were made and preserved!

  3. Lloyd

    Steam engines are fascinating to watch operating. Most of us have seen some type of steam power, usually the traditional type with the boiler and operating system in front of the cab. A cab forward is different in the fact that the boiler and operating system is behind the cab. Very unique to the railroad industry, and they had their place. But never took hold across North America in general. This video shows the engines operating and how they operated. It is extremely interesting to see these beasts pulling hard at work. Diffinately worth owning this video.

  4. rickyfreni

    The program starts with 4247 sprints across the MODOC line in 1955-1956 on a freight! The history segment begins with an interview with Dr. Robert Church, who explains why it’s a necessity for these beasts to operate over the Sierra Nevada mountains. During Dr. church’s explanation, a still image of mallet type class MC-1 number 4001 built in 1909 is shown, as well as Dr. Church’s own drawing of the first cab forward locomotive: North Pacific coast 21. This is the engine that was inspired by the character Lexi played by Lucy Montgomery in the 2017 Thomas The Tank Engine movie: Journey Beyond Sodor.

    Moving on to the map of the entire SP rail lines where cab forwards were allowed, we see the overland route from San Francisco, California to Ogden, Utah. The cab forwards operated between Roseville and Colfax over Donner Pass. Highlights include a look at what emigrant gap was like before the interstate highways were built.

    Moving south, we are on the San Joaquin valley line as a still image of a cab forward going over the bridge is shown, as it is photographed by a young Stanley Kistler in 1954. On the loop, cab forwards struggle with a really long freight. They always have to acquire helpers. There is a very short clip of AC-8 number 4183 working up at Tehachapi!

    Moving right along to the Sunset Route, AC-8 number 4202 arrives at the siding on Beaumont hill, as it’ll have to wait for the train to pass. Stanley kistler explains his sights of the line. A doubleheaded helper is on the rear at Redlands.

    Moving right along to the Los Angeles-San Francisco line (The Coast Line) along the Pacific Ocean. Out of Los Angeles, a highlight is AC-8 number 4191 picking up speed at Chatsworth Curve.

    Heading north, we are at the San Francisco Bay Area. First is a look at the Oakland roundhouse and turntable. West of Oakland, AC-10 number 4212 passes by army terminal on its way to the yard. At San Francisco, a westbound heads off the bridge. Inside the workshop, work on the cab forwards are shown.

    Heading a bit further north, we are on the Mt. Shasta line. First comes a black and white clip of AC-6 4147 exiting and entering tunnel to tunnel. These scenes were recorded during the Korean War. A very short clip shows an unidentified locomotive passing by Mt. Shasta in the background. As snow falls in the black and white scene, 4253 passes by the station.

    On the MODOC line, CFs operate from Klamath Falls, Oregon to Altures, California, then heads southeast to Fernley, Nevada connecting to the UP’s Overland Route. At Altures, AC-9 number 3804 built in 1939 is shown as well as sister engine 3805. There is much more too!

    On November 30-December 1 1957, the last run of a cab forward over Donner Pass is operated, that it is being led by 4274 from Sacramento to Reno and returns. Stanley explains the final days of steam on the SP as well as Dr. Church talking about the excursion

    There are 2 bonus features on the DVD: one features an April 1981 Silent film of the lone surviving cab forward 4294 being moved into the present resting place at the California State Railroad Museum before the Grand Opening. The other bonus feature contains Stanley’s thoughts on the last run, saving 4294, the final days of cab forwards in Southern California, Dr. Bob Church’s thoughts on the North Pacific coast cab forward (inspiration for Lexi in the 2017 Thomas The Tank Engine movie journey beyond sodor), the cab forwards on why they aren’t double heading on freights, when they operate on the San Joaquin daylight, and talks about why railroading in the 1950s was the golden decade for shooting American Steam in regular service before the diesels took over.

  5. Chase

    Great footage of cab forwards all over the SP system. A must for any SP cab forward fan!

Add a review

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top