Matt joins the coal train hauling a priceless cargo of coal through Pennsylvania from mine to power plant. Getting the train, which weighs 1,400 tons when full, over the Allegheny mountains can be quite a challenge. Matt pitches in with the crew as they load up the train and learns how the Nazis tried to blow the tracks during World War II.
Going from the port of Los Angeles to Dallas/Fort Worth, this high-priority freight train, one of Matt's longtime favorites, brings goods from the Far East to stores across the US. In this episode Matt endures the searing heat of the Mojave desert, gets drenched in New Mexico rainstorms and rides through an earthquake-proof trench that runs the length of downtown LA. The episode also covers the first train robbers in the US.
The Amtrak Acela is the fastest train in America, with speeds reaching 150 mph. Running from Washington, DC to Boston, this passenger train is a high-tech wonder that runs on lines dating to the Great Depression. The train is powered by high-voltage overhead electrical wires. Matt meets the workers who are just inches from possible electrocution on a daily basis. The production team for EXTREME TRAINS had to pass a special training course before they were allowed to film there. This episode also looks at historic Penn Station and why it had to be demolished in order to save the railroads.
Union Pacific's refrigeration train is simply the coolest… On its cross-country trip from Wallula, Washington, to Schenectady, New York, it employs hi-tech mobile refrigeration technology to keep its produce intact and fresh. Even the railcars themselves are loaded inside a cooled facility so as not to break the cold chain for this delicate cargo. Also in this episode: how trains and trucks battled for business in the 1950s.
The Union Pacific's famous 844 steam locomotive, built in 1944, is the longest-running steam train in America. It still runs on UP's mainlines today. Matt rides the 844 on its annual outing, taking 750 rail fans from Denver to the biggest rodeo in the world in Cheyenne, Wyoming. This train is so popular that traffic jams form along the tracks when it runs, as people "chase the train." This episode also looks at the gold rush of the 1850s.
This train running from Chicago to Seattle is the busiest passenger train in America. The route passes through America's longest tunnel where Matt finds out how the railroad keeps passengers from choking to death and how to keep the tracks from flooding. In the Cascade Mountains he learns what it takes to the keep the rails clear of snow drifts over a dozen feet high! This episode covers how James J. Hill built the Great Northern Railroad; and the Wellington avalanche disaster. It features some of America's most beautiful scenery in Montana's Glacier National Park.
All board the longest privately owned train in the world, the circus train from Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey! PT Barnum's circus train started in the 1870s; and the US military used circus loading techniques in World War I. Matt and the circus race against the clock to dismantle tons of equipment and get it on the rails. As they travel from Baltimore to the Washington, DC corridor in the dead of night, Matt discovers the less glamorous side to the greatest show on earth.
Matt rides the busiest freight line anywhere, Union Pacific's Omaha to Sacramento — on a route that crosses the world's longest rail causeway, though the world's largest rail yard and over the fearsome Donner Pass, where Matt and the train crews must free the tracks from huge blocks of ice. The episode covers the building of the transcontinental railroad in the 1860s.