Lifeline To The Country
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This page was last updated on August 31, 2015.
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(First published to the UtahRails.net blog on Wordpress on January 22, 2013)
Back in 1990, Union Pacific paid to have a song and video produced to improve employee morale. I have been able to recover the video from a VHS tape that I've had for several years, and uploaded it for others to enjoy.
I have also extracted the music itself, added a bit of album art from the title on the video, and uploaded an MP3 for use in any music player.
I've been able to track down the producer, director, and song writer, all of whom were based in Utah at the time. The producer and songwriter responded, but showed no further interest. The director still lives in Heber, and was quite happy that I've been able to preserve this bit of history, since he knew the original tapes had been lost.
The Back Story
The "Lifeline to the Country" video was produced in 1990 by Rex Allen of Allen Communications, which had a contract with Union Pacific for its OnBoard Training (OBT) device for freight train conductors. While producing the OBT videos and training materials, Mr. Allen became aware of the rift between the train crews and company management, and presented the concept of a song and video to help overcome some of the difficulties.
The project was approved and Mr. Allen contracted with Greg Windley, whose Handstand Productions did the actual location taping and recording. Rex Allen also contracted with Michael McLean, a Utah-based songwriter, to write a song that would serve as the basis for the video. The completed song was recorded in a studio in Los Angeles. The video was taped in the Union Pacific depot in Salt Lake City, on a Saturday when the workers would be out of the office. The depot itself was not being used by the public, with Amtrak trains using the Rio Grande depot nearby.
The taping session at the depot used actors playing their parts as a singing group. Due to the sound qualities inside the depot, the actors sang the song without recording equipment, to ensure synchronization with the recorded song. One of the singers, wearing a cowboy hat, was Otto Meleti and sang the part of a railroad worker. Mr. Meleti was an occasional performer, and at the time was owner of the Zephyr Club in Salt Lake City. The other singer, played by Bill Lines, sang the part of an office worker making decisions that affected the day-to-day operations of the railroad.
Many of the train scenes in the video were taped in the Salt Lake City area, including scenes along the Great Salt Lake's south shore. Several scenes were taped in the vicinity of Kaysville, Utah, close to Mr. Allen's home at the time. These scenes in Kaysville included those showing the two young boys growing up watching trains, and watching their grandfather pick up their father and driving to work on the railroad. The two young boys were Mr. Allen's neighbors.
Other portions of the video included comments by railroad employees that were filmed both in the Salt Lake City area, and in Omaha. The portion of the video with Glenn Yarborough was taped at the Snowed Inn, a local bed and breakfast in Park City, Utah. Mr. Yarborough served solely as an actor playing the part of the spirit of the railroad. He flew in for the recording session, and flew out the next day. The dialogue spoken Mr. Yarborough was written by Rex Allen.
The completed video was sent to Union Pacific on an Interactive Video laser disc. A 1-inch master tape of the completed production was retained, but has been lost, although a BetaMax version is known to exist among the director's stored items, but its location is unknown. The original video and audio tapes have been lost and are no longer available.
Lifeline To The Country (MP4; 10:07 minutes; 67.2MB)
Lifeline To the Country (MP3; 6:18 minutes; 5.9MB)