January 2, 1998

With one more family Christmas celebration to go, on January 3, Byron and his wife came over on New Year's day and stayed into the weekend. On Friday morning, Byron and I headed for Ottumwa for some train-watching.

Our first stop was in Chariton to catch a couple of westbound coal empties. The first arrived at 9:20 with BNSF 9793 and 9806 ahead of PRBX gondolas. The second came by us twenty minutes later with BN 9468 and 9578 pulling old CEPX cars.

After these two trains, and hearing that Amtrak would be running about 2 hours late, we drove east all the way to Ottumwa. When we arrived, an eastbound was waiting just west of the IMRL diamond, having backed over onto the westbound to get out of Amtrak's way. East of town, at Agency, Des Moines bound 447 waited on both of the eastbounds.

Amtrak No. 6, with GE units 14, 63 and 76 on the point, appeared at 11:37. In this morning's California Zephyr:

Coach 34061 (unoccupied?)
Material Handling Car 1468
Baggage Car 1160
Transition Sleeper 39023
Coach 34077, 34028, 34096, 34095
Sightseer Lounge 33012
Dining Car 38010
Sleeping Car 32065, 32002, 32109 (South Dakota)
Box Car 71146
Baggage Car 1722
Today's consist, like that of Christmas day, had none of the 315xx Smoking Coaches, so lots of people were on the platform during the stop. After almost leaving a passenger in the depot, they were underway again at 11:46.

Dispatcher "KRS" next moved his freight trains. The train that had backed out of Amtrak's way came back through the crossover and onto the eastbound main, pulling by the depot at 11:55. This manifest was pulled by LMX 8547, cabless BN 4050 and Carlton Trail Railway 1004 Next, westbound train 447 came through at 12:05 with BN 5105 and SF 3699.

Byron and I got some lunch and cruised the town. I stopped out on the southeast side of downtown Ottumwa to take a picture of an old Rock Island building in the process of being torn down. In the IMRL yard, we found NREX 2036, apparently an ex-Illinois Central unit, idling in the yard. The IMRL yard was as empty as I've seen it since the takeover from the CP.

After lunch, we positioned ourselves at the IMRL/BNSF diamond and waited on traffic that we'd heard about on the scanner. The first train arrived at 1:31, a westbound BNSF manifest behind LMX 8503, 8573 and BN 6362. Ten minutes behind them was a coal empty, with BN 8170, 5054 pulling ancient (class of '77) BN 3-bay hoppers.

As these trains were passing, an eastbound IMRL train (112) arrived in the yard and waited to use the diamond. However, they had to wait a few minutes for one more westbound on the BNSF. This was a set of grain hoppers with BNSF warbonnets 722 and 700 on the point (handsome units!).

The IMRL freight with CP 5540 and 5575 was then allowed to cross the diamond. They pulled to a stop just past the crossing and waited for their helper, NREX 2036, to couple on and help them up the hill to Rutledge.

By 2:30, the helper had returned from the top of the hill, but it had to wait for another BNSF train, a coal load that crossed at 2:42 with BN 5132, 5137 and 7015 pulling FSTX hoppers. After this train, the helper was permitted to return to the IMRL yard.

Byron and I headed back west in the general direction of home. We overtook the grain train and stopped to get another picture of the warbonnets in Chariton. I drove out to the west from Chariton and turned north at the airport. Just before we got to the overpass at the top of Whitebreast hill, Byron spotted a coal load grinding into town. I did a quick U-turn and raced back into Chariton, where we stopped to get pictures of BN 9239, 5061 and 5021 with OVEX and AEPX cars before finally leaving for home.

Bonus Section

On New Year's eve (afternoon) Jan and I went to Des Moines to do a little last-minute shopping for Saturday's belated Christmas with the Tinder side of the family. Our timing was excellent, and we were able to catch an Iowa Interstate train just east of Booneville, were I could drop off of I-35 for a minute to get a couple of pictures. The 34-car manifest had IAIS 408, 405 and 600 on the point. We paced it at 45 mph back to the Interstate before turning north to continue our shopping trip.

That's It!