Marshalltown with Mike Saturday, January 5


To wind up Christmas Break, Indianola railfan Mike Endres and I decided to make a run up to Marshalltown on Saturday. We had an overcast morning with a little mist in the air, but conditions improved as the day went on. We left Indianola around 8:30 and went through Carlisle and then took the Hwy. 65 bypass to Pleasant Hill. We did a quick check of the N.S. "Glake" yard and then headed on up to Short Line.

Mike's a CNW fan(atic) and he was excited to find CNW 6819 (with a smiley bell) on the north fuel track in the yard. Throughout the day he mentioned this loco and his hopes of catching it on a train for a "Photo of the Month" on his web site. In the end he had to settle for another shot of it in the yard.

Things were pretty quiet at Short Line and there didn't seem to be any trains made up and near departing. We went up and checked out Hull Avenue Yard and then started north toward Nevada. About the time we got to Cambridge we heard the north dispatcher discussing a meet between a southbound and a train in the siding at Nevada. We hustled up to the siding and found a short grain empty waiting, so we took up positions in "Devil's Hollow" where the old Rock Island Short Line once ducked under the Chicago and North Western mains. Today, this is all Union Pacific, of course.

Before the southbounder appeared, at 10:05, we had a WEPX coal load overhead with UP 6863 and 6543 (That's Mike in the foreground). The southbound manifest arrived at 10:12 with UP 2956, 2975, 2991 and a Pennsy switcher I'd seen a few months back at Marshalltown, NIWX 9251.

We went down to the north end of the siding to watch the grain empty roll. On the point were UP 9194, 9263 and 2241. They got their signal at 10:20 and were quickly out of the way. As we drove north from the siding on S-27, we spotted a westbound coming over the Hollow, so we went up to a grade crossing just north of old 30 and watched it pass. This train had UP 8096, 3741 and 9478 on the point.

On the way over to Marshalltown, Mike showed me a gravel road that follows the tracks fairly closely between State Center and Lamoille. We didn't see any trains along here until later in the day, however. As we approached Marshalltown we could tell from the radio that the "M-DMDM" was doing some switching there.

Power at the Marshalltown diesel service area included UP 2972, 2954, 2957, 2994, and 2965. We also spotted "Patch" unit 3043. A couple of units, UP 670 and 447, were hiding behind a pile of rail over by the new yard office.

Transglobal had two freshly-painted units with chopped short hoods parked west of the shop, 4190 in CNW colors and 4165 in blue. While Mike and I were looking around the yard this morning, we managed to miss a couple of stackers. We did catch a couple of trains at the west end of the yard just after noon. The first was an eastbound stack train with UP 4078 and 9825. There wasn't even time to turn around and crank the zoom back in before a set of empty company hoppers came through behind UP 8177 and 6800.

We took a short break to pick up a proper railfan lunch at Taylor's and then took our takeout to the north side of the tracks west of the old depot location. (I need to point out here that Mike's not a proper Maid Rite user. He wanted ketchup, which is not served with this sandwich. We managed to find him some elsewhere.)

We went back to the west end of the yard just before 1:00 to get a shot of the DMDM power and to catch a WEPX coal load pulled by UP 7213 and 6754. Back on at our lunch spot, we caught a MARX empty bearing down on us with UP 8058, 6666 and 7551.

I decided that we should try a different photo location and hope for some sunlight, so we moved west to a gravel road crossing not far from the crossovers at West Marshall. A train arrived from the west at 1:30. This was a KGLX coal load pulled by UP 6825 and 7079. This particular location puts you on the south side of the rails and outside of a broad curve.

Mike and I then started back west along the line, following the route he'd shown me between Lamoille and State Center. We managed to intercept a coal train out here and had just enough time to slide to a stop and grab a couple of pictures as they went by. Power on the train was UP 7290, 6869, and 6656. We chased them back to Marshalltown, but never got far enough ahead for more pictures. Out at West Marshall we caught the DMDM again as they finally got out of town at 2:45. On the point, UP 2972, 2954 and 2957.

Our next stop was Clear Creek, a set of crossovers between State Center and Colo. A red station wagon was parked near the grade crossing. I learned later that the people with it were John Rozycki and spouse, out train-watching today, too.

Mike and I had just heard the Lamoille detector on Main 1 a few minutes before and knew that the DMDM was on Main 2. We'd met nothing, so we assumed that another westbound train was coming up behind us. We stopped for pictures of the DMDM coming through Clear Creek. The signal on the north track was clear and before long we spotted an autorack train overtaking the DMDM. The automobile train had UP 4433, 4087, 6171 and UP ???? on the point and they were by us at 3:15.

We took a break in Nevada and then started south, pacing the DMDM along the "Spine Line". It looked like we might not be able to catch up, but they slowed considerably on the hill going into Elkhart and we were able to get pictures of them again as they came through Enterprise just after 4:00. The crew was dead on the law at 5:00, so they were told to stop their train at Hull Avenue where a van picked up the crew around 4:30.

From the radio we knew that an M-DMSS had started north out of the yard on the Fort Dodge line. Mike was very hopeful that it would have the CNW unit on the point, but no such luck. We finally got about a half hour of sunlight just before sunset today, and got our pictures of the DMSS from a spot just north of the bridge over Euclid Avenue. The train snaked past the parked DMDM and the "Bean Plant" before coming onto the bridge and out into the sunlight. The second unit on the DMSS was UP 3747.

Next it was down to Short Line and the engine servicing area again. Mike's CNW unit and a number of others were still sitting around, among them UP 2526, UP Y645, and UP 4232. A long cut of cars had been pulled out to the west and was backed into the yard in front of us. The power came by around 5:00, UP Y652, 2991, 2975 and 2956. Several of these engines were on the southbound that we'd seen at the "Hollow" this morning. After being shoved through some very rough track at the west end of the yard, the cut was positioned on the old Rock Island main.

A pair of units, SP 5378 and UP 9414 were brought off the fuel track and taken down the southeast leg to be turned on the wye. Mike and I both got some more shots of the CNW unit. He used a flash to get his "Photo of the Month". I went for the silhouette.

We went over to the junction to catch the turning units coming north. By now it was getting so that there really wasn't enough light for moving subjects (1/13 second exposure). We'd been told by a yard man that the DMDM would be coming into the yard pretty soon, but it was time to go home.

That's It!