Public Domain Movies

3rd Ave. El (1950)
Running Time: 10 mins Black & White

Train Shorts - 3rd Ave. El

A Great Railroad at Work (1942)
Running Time: 39 mins Black & White

Standard industrial documentary about the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad.

At This Moment )
Black & White

Beef Rings the Bell (1960)
Running Time: 27 mins Black & White

Big Trains Rolling (1950)
Running Time: 25 mins Black & White

This is an educational video produced by the Association of American Railroads that explores how railroads in the United States keep the economy growing by providing transportation and employment. The video features equipment from several railroads including: Santa Fe, Western Maryland, and the Southern Pacific

Clear Track Ahead (1946)
Running Time: 27 mins Black & White

Pennsylvania RailRoad promotional film from 1946 which details the activities of the railroad from inception through to the mid 1940's.

Desert Empire (1948)
Running Time: 23 mins Black & White

End of an Era (1950)
Running Time: 18 mins Black & White

Flight of the Century (1950)
Running Time: 16 mins Black & White

Flight of the Century"; an old PSA from the New York Central extolling the virtues of it's 20th Century Limited.

Last of the Giants (1950)
Running Time: 22 mins Black & White

A late film about the history of the "Big Boy" one of the if not the largest steam train used in the USA for hauling freight.

Mainline U.S.A. (1950)
Running Time: 19 mins Black & White

This Association of American Railroads film carries the typical industry message that trains were integral to the American economy and way of life, which were the best in the world. There is much narration detailing the forward-thinking mentality of the railroads, including facts about the modernization of passenger trains. There is also a short discussion of the history of train travel, some information on the kinds of goods freight trains carry, and more. The interesting part of this film is all the great shots of 1950's era trains, including the GM Aerotrain, a military train carrying Patton tanks, B&O E units, PRR Baldwin Sharknoses, and NYC E-8's in lightning stripe livery. This film contain running views of these and many other freight and passenger trains

New Horizons (1940)
Running Time: 23 mins Black & White

Definitive document of pre-World War II futuristic utopian thinking, as envisioned by General Motors. Documents the "Futurama" exhibit in GM's "Highways and Horizons" pavilion at the World's Fair, which looks ahead to the "wonder world of 1960."

Opening a New Frontier (1955)
Running Time: 13 mins Black & White

Pennsylvania RailRoad promotional film from 1955. Highlights the early intermodal road / rail 'piggback' services being introduced at the time.

Operation Fast Freight (1950)
Running Time: 26 mins Black & White

Follow a N&W freight eastward on the Norfolk & Western from Columbus, OH to Norfolk,VA as they make up time freight 86 in the heyday of steam on the N&W

Progress on the Rails (1952)
Running Time: 14 mins Black & White

The PRR was an American railroad founded in 1846. The PRR was the largest railroad by traffic and revenue in the U.S. throughout the first two-thirds of the twentieth century and was at one time the largest publicly traded corporation in the world. At its peak, it controlled about 10,000 miles (16,000 km) of rail line. In the 1920's it carried about three times the traffic (measured by ton-miles of freight) as other railroads of comparable length, such as the Union Pacific or Santa Fe railroads.

Railroad at Work (1942)
Running Time: 39 mins Black & White

Railroad Man (1950)
Running Time: 7 mins Black & White
Starring: Bill Withers

Railroads for Western Expansion (1869)
Running Time: 44 mins Black & White

The year was 1869 and America had just completed the greatest building achievement in its history--the Transcontinental Railroad. A thin ribbon of steel and wood now connected East and West. But the fledgling country now faced an even greater challenge--how to harness the awesome potential of the railroad to tame the still wide-open and wild West

Return of the General (1962)
Running Time: 7 mins Black & White

Rolling the Freight (1947)
Running Time: 28 mins Black & White

Educational film showing how the Chicago and North Western Railway handles freight around the Chicago area.

Safe Roads (1935)
Running Time: 7 mins Black & White

This is a public service safety film about safe driving filming in 1935 by Chevrolet. What makes this film even more interesting is that the film compares Railroad practices and safety to that of a driver in an automobile.

Snow on the Run (1951)
Running Time: 18 mins Black & White

A documentary produced by Southern Pacific chronicling their snow-fighting efforts on the Overland Route during the winter of 1951 and '52. This was the year the "City of San Francisco" was stranded due to heavy snow

Son of the Pioneer and Cool waters (1947)
Running Time: 2 mins Black & White

Cool Water, recorded in 1947, reached fourth position in the US Country Charts and in 1948 reached seventh position in the US County Charts.

The Big Train )
Black & White

The California Zephyr (1969)
Running Time: 20 mins Black & White

The Freight Train (1954)
Running Time: 10 mins Black & White

Shows how the cars in a freight train are scheduled, inspected and assembled. Follows the fast freight number 40 on its journey from Kansas City to Chicago. Examines the specific duties of train personnel and the operation of safety devices. The conductor, yard master, engineer, fireman, brakemen positions are highlighted. The cars are separated into groups that are going on to the same train. They pass over an inspection pit and are marked for repairs if necessary. Switching of the tracks during train assembly and departure from the stockyard is managed from a large tower. Cars are sent down the tracks to join the train with which they will travel. Ice is put into refrigerator cars. In an hour and a half, a mile of freight cars is loaded, inspected and coupled. During the trip, the front brakeman watches the train to make sure everything runs smoothly. The conductor sits in his office, reads orders and completes paperwork. The rear brakeman alerts the engineer when the last car is clear of turn and bridges, so the train can pick up speed. Explains why freight trains are important to many people.

The Modern Coal Burning Steam Locomotive (1950)
Running Time: 11 mins Black & White

The Nickel Plate Story (1964)
Running Time: 18 mins Black & White

The New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad (reporting mark NKP), abbreviated NYC&St.L, was a railroad that operated in the mid-central United States. Commonly referred to as the Nickel Plate Road, the railroad served a large area, including trackage in the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri. Its primary connections included Buffalo, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Toledo.The Nickel Plate Railroad was constructed in 1881 along the South Shore of the Great Lakes connecting Buffalo, New York, and Chicago to compete with the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway. In 1964, the Nickel Plate Road was merged into the larger Norfolk and Western Railway.

The Passenger Train (1940)
Running Time: 11 mins Black & White

The Power Behind the Nation (1940)
Running Time: 28 mins Black & White

The Railroad Story (1951)
Running Time: 8 mins Black & White

The Steam Locomotive (1959)
Running Time: 29 mins Black & White

This documentary short offers a nostalgic look at the steam locomotive as it passes from reality to history. In its heyday, the big smoke-belching steam engine seemed immortal. Now, powerful and efficient diesels are pushing the old coal-burning locomotives to the sidelines, and the lonely echo of their whistles may soon be a thing of the past.

This is My Railroad (1940)
Running Time: 29 mins Black & White

Troop Train (1943)
Running Time: 10 mins Black & White

Wheels of Progress (1950)
Running Time: 9 mins Black & White

This film was produced by the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific (Rock Island) Railroad in 1950 to educate customers how their railroad operates and what services are offered as well as new innovations the railroad has incorporated. This film is a great capture of railroading at its finest with both steam and early diesel locomotive power shown

Wheels of Steel (1943)
Running Time: 13 mins Black & White

Publicity film from the Pennsylvania RailRoad (PRR) released in the early 1950's focusing on a GG1 electric locomotive. Shows the trains in action as well as 'behind the scenes'.