Marshalltown with the Vander Molens

Saturday, January 4



I left Indianola around 7:30 on Saturday, headed for Marshalltown to hook up with Joel Vander Molen and his dad Lowell.  Joel wrote to me early in 2002 with an offer to help with my web pages., and we met in Ottumwa late in March.  Joel is studying I.T. at AIB in Des Moines and will be graduating this spring.  Lately Joel's been helping maintain the web site of the Rock Island Technical Society, adding new files and making suggestions on design and interface issues.

We'd had a beautiful Friday in central Iowa, but Saturday was cloudy with temperatures right around freezing.  By the time I was on the Hwy. 65 bypass east of Des Moines it had begun to rain.  I took the diagonal route (highways 65 and 330) toward Marshalltown.  Most of this road is now four lanes with a 65 mph speed limit, so it didn't take long to get there.

I got to the mainlines west of town around 8:20 and could see a westbound covered hopper train leaving.  I stopped for gas and coffee, missing an eastbound and just catching the rear of an westbound stacker at 8:40.  While having a look at the south side of the yard I met the Vander Molens in their van and we headed over to a parking area by the mainlines just west of the old depot location.

Fortunately, in spite of the dismal weather we had quite a bit of rail traffic this morning.  Our first train's headlights appeared from the west at 8:47.  This turned out to be an FLCX coal load pulled by UP 7231, 6865 and SP 211.  They met a westbound stack train on the way out of Marshalltown and the stacker, with UP 4150, 5125, 9483 and exceptionally grubby 2238, pulled to a stop in front of us at 9:00.

While our westbound intermodal waited for things to clear up on Main 2, another eastbound coal load came into sight and poked its nose under the Marshalltown viaducts.  On the point of the CIPX tubs were UP 6871 and SP 125.  By 9:15 the stacker was starting to accelerate and another coal train arrived, this time with CWEX cars.  Leading the train were UP 6838 and 6572.  Next up, at 9:35, was a WEPX empty to follow the stacker out of town.  This one was led by UP 6472 and 8284.

By now it was raining pretty steadily and I'd taken shelter with Joel and Lowell in the roomy Vander Molen Ford van.  We drove out to the east end of the yard where Job 1 was working with UP 395 and CNW patch 403.  Around 10:10 the Oskaloosa train came out of the yard to go south.  It was powered by UP 395, CNW patch 406 and SP patch 1430.  Just as the Osky train cleared the grade crossing and stopped so that a crew van could pick up the brake man, a westbound stacker came in.  Four units were on the point, UP 4847, 4746, 4279 and 9482.  These shots were taken through the windows of the van.

From the radio we learned that the M-DMDM was about to arrive from the west, so we shuttled to the other end of the yard to catch it.  The daily turn appeared at 10:54 with UP 2964, 2957 and 2986.  The brake man dropped off, threw a yard switch and trudged in the rain by the locos as they moved slowly down the "M&St.L" track.

After getting a look at the "DuMDuM" we moved back to the north side of the mainlines for a few more trains.  At 11:25 another coal load came in under the viaducts (There were six altogether - a bit like watching the BNSF!), UP 6488 and 7263 with CWEX tub gons.  Ten minutes later I stepped out in the rain for pictures of another, this one with distributed power and miscellaneous company hoppers.  On the head end we had UP 6537 and bringing up the rear UP 8003.

The sixth coal load arrived at noon, WPSX hoppers pulled by UP 6790 and 8048.  After seeing it, we repaired to Taylor's Maid Rite for some takeout lunch.  Though warned in advance, Lowell asked for ketchup and had to be told, "Sorry, mustard, pickle and onions - we don't serve ketchup."  Kinda reminds me of those SNL routines, "...no fries, got cheeps..."

While having our lunch trackside we listened to discussion on the radio about the length of the outbound DMDM.  The crew reported to dispatcher "Blake", that they would have a 9400 ft. train if they took everything that they were supposed to.  He commented that the "PR" was 10,400 in length today.  We watched a couple of trains pass during our lunch, an eastbound stack train with UP 4963, 4246 and 4440, and a westbound manifest behind UP 4934 and 9144.  I had other obligations for later in the afternoon, so around 1:30 I said good-bye to the Vander Molens and headed back toward home.

That's It!