Christmas Break 2007

Assorted Excursions

Saturday, December 29

Susan and I went north to old Hwy. 6 and followed the Rock Island route east so that she could make quilting-related stops in Brooklyn and Willamsburg.  We were to have supper in Washington at Cafe Dodici, and stay the night in Oskaloosa at the McNeill Stone Mansion.  Those stops and fuel for the 400 mile loop will get you a nice sound-equipped HO diesel, but these are holidays, right?  I'd monitored the IAIS channel through the morning and had heard some activity near Homestead, so I was pretty sure the westbound daily was getting near after we left Victor.  Just after noon we intercepted the BICB coming out of a cold fog west of Marengo.  They had IAIS 716, with no nose herald in the lead, followed by IAIS 628 and IAIS 714.

Thursday, January 3

Susan had to return to her teaching job on Thursday, leaving me to my own resources.  Simpson starts the spring semester, my last before retirement, on Monday.  It was sunny and cold, just 11 degrees, with a forecast of strong south winds.  I left the ranch around 7:15 and looped through Pleasantville, picking up a Des Moines Register and then drove over to Beech to see if there were anything happening on the Spine Line this morning.  On the radio I heard the DMDM (Marshalltown turn) at Short Line, changing its Warrant for Bulletins and getting ready to go north.  I went up S-31 and joined the commuters on Hwy. 5, leaving to follow the rails when I got to Carlisle.

I heard an Avon turn, UP 7305, getting permission to take light power to Short Line, and when I got to the elevators I found an antique switcher pulling a set of cars off of a side track and shoving them into the elevator.  The loco, marked "NWLX", with 7703 showing on the headlight number boards, featured external manifolds on its exhaust stacks.  After they cleared the crossing and I was headed on toward Des Moines, I heard a track rider asking for some time on the rails around 8:05.  But dispatcher MDG said that she was already giving "lights across Des Moines" to a CPFW train.  I decided to go for it and see if I could catch them somewhere near Short Line.  As it turned out, I got to the Maury St. crossing with a few minutes to spare.  The signals at the BN diamond were lit for the soutbound, so I pulled up there and waited for the train, which appeared at 8:35.  On the point of the manifest were UP 4147 and 3974.

The CPFW was given a warrant to move just off the end of the CTC (CP-U053) and to hold the main track at Beech.  They were to meet a northbound there and another at Williamson.  Meanwhile, the yardmaster had started the Eagle Grove train down toward the junction and into the yard on track 4.  I drove up to the Dean Ave. crossings to wait for them.  The EADM appeared at 9:00 and came by the old Inland Mills elevator.  They had two units, UP 3671 and 3384.

I decided to follow the CPFW out of town, so I drove back through Avon to Carlisle, made a quick restroom and fresh coffee stop and started east along Hwy. 5.  On the radio about 9:50 I heard the northbound they were to meet at Beech report themselves by MP 40, basically out of Melcher.  I hustled back down S-31 and got to the abandoned bridge at the south end of the siding just in time to get a picture of the train waiting on the mainline.  They'd already lined the switch for the siding and at 10:00 the northbounder arrived.  This train was led by UP 2330, 9097 and 9505.  They entered the siding and continued north while the conductor threw the switch back to the mainline route.  By 10:10 the meet was accomplished and the CPFW, with 4147 and 3974, was on its way toward the next meet at Williamson.

Friday, January 4

We were off to Kansas City early Friday to visit Susan's daughter Lisa and son-in-law Stan.  They live in the Crossroads area in an old hotel converted to condos.  A great location, within walking distance of the refurbished Kansas City Union Station.  We happened to reach Osceola just as the Zephyr was arriving, so I got a few shots as they reached the station about 9:30, made their stop and were off toward Chicago.  Across the tracks from my passenger train photo-op was the new BNSF headquarters.  Now that the railroad has its own facility, the depot will be taken over, and hopefully restored, by the city of Osceola.

In KC, Susan and I had some time to run around before meeting the "kids".  Among our stops was Doc's Caboose Hobby in the West Bottoms.  No helicopters, no boats, no rockets, 'cept for the Rock Island kind.  Just trains, and mostly HO at that.  I got that diesel with sound and a bit more.

Saturday, January 5
The girls went off by themselves in search of fabric, organic food, etc., and Stan and I walked over to the Union Station.  On the elevated walkway, I caught a grain train coming through eastbound with UP 5899, 8218 and 5674.  They met a track rider just as they passed the Christmas Train that KCS brings out during the season.  Inside, Stan and I had a conversation with one of the volunteers tearing down the large layout of G, O and S gauge trains that is put up each Christmas, and then went in search of other sizes of trains.  The station hosts HO, N and Lionel setups along with (of course) what remains of real passenger service these days.

We located the HO club setup and checked it out.  This modular layout had a double-track mainline with modules that were deep enough for some real scenery.  The modules included some with light "sheds" over illuminated structures, and the required (in KC) model of the famous Western Auto sign.  Before we went back over the walkway, I got a shot of a streetcar displayed outside, and the beautiful nose of KCS 34.  On our return trip we caught another block of covered hoppers, this time westbound with UP 5995, 6524 and SP 177 (apparently not yet renumbered by UP).

That's It!