Spine Line and Seymour
January 6 and 7

Thursday, January 6

On Thursday evening Jan was walking through the kitchen and heard UP dispatcher "JCB" tell a southbound train leaving Des Moines that they'd meet a northbound at Carlisle and that this train wasn't yet out of Beech. We figured we had time to make it to Carlisle for the meet, so we grabbed the camera and flash and headed north up Hwy. 65.

When we got to the old depot location, the southbound train had already pulled part way into the siding. Just about the time we parked the Jeep between the main and the siding (about 8:00) they started pulling south. The main and siding are well-separated here because the main was raised and moved eastward for the Red Rock Dam project. This left the siding, which passed behind (west of) the Rock Island depot, about 40 yards away. On the head end of the southbound train were UP 5707 and UP 689. They had a fairly short train and cleared the crossing before reaching the south end of the siding, CPU064.

The northbound train, the MKSIT, came down the hill and around the curve a few minutes later. They had UP 5947 and UP 4160 on the point and were by us at 8:15.

Friday, January 7

This weekend would be the end of my Christmas Break, so we'd decided earlier to take either Friday or Saturday for a train-watching day. Friday morning came up sunny, with a forecast of clear skies and 40 degrees, so we packed the Jeep and left town around 9:00. I'd learned from a couple of Internet railfan forums that the UP has contacted landowners between Allerton and Seymour about the possibilty of resurrecting the old Rock Island Golden State route between these two towns. This would make a new connection to the IMRL line up out of Polo, Missouri, where the UP and IMRL (formerly Rock Island and Milwaukee, CNW and Soo/CP, etc.) join.

We have slides that we took back when the Rock Island ran through Allerton. I thought it might be interesting to see what the route looks like today, so we first went south. Not far out of town we picked up Amtrak No. 6's location. They were out of Creston at 9:20. I considered trying to catch them at Osceola, but decided to go straight down to Lucas and the Stephens Forest overpass today. Along the way we heard a westbound given a warrant at Albia at 9:39, so we figured we might see that train, too.

Amtrak reported itself out of Osceola at 9:52. We heard them hit the detector at MP 356.7 soon after with 84 axles. We were just east of MP 344 waiting when the Zephyr came around the bend at 10:08. ATK 27 was in the lead with 48 trailing elephant-style. We couldn't get the car numbers with the train at speed, however, we saw:

Transition Sleeper
2 Sleeping Cars
Sightseer Lounge
4 Coaches, including an ex-Coach/Baggage, probably the Smoker
Material Car
4 Boxcars
Coach? (a deadhead Superliner of some sort)
2 more Boxcars
We waited another half-hour at the bridge for our next train, listening to the Russell detector report the westbound and then Amtrak. The westbounder turned out to be a JAIX empty pulled by BN 9697 and BNSF 8852.

We knew of a second westbound on the way and we'd also heard two eastbound trains over on the other side of Osceola, so it would have been possible to stay along the BNSF the rest of the morning. However, we'd discussed the trip to Seymour and decided to keep moving south. We made a pit stop in Chariton to dig out an old Wayne County plat and a new DeLorme atlas. While we were stopped we heard UP Trenton Sub (south Spine) dispatcher Myra (MDG) tell a trackworker in Allerton that he'd have to be out of the way by 12:30 for a northbound. We started off down Hwy. 14 for Allerton.

On the way down, we heard an eastbound IMRL train report itself by MP 390. Seymour's around 350. We'd gotten to Allerton at about a quarter 'til 12:00, so we decided to take a chance on getting to Seymour and back to see both trains. I took some gravel roads paralleling the old Rock Island route over to Seymour. As it turned out, we got there with plenty of time to spare ahead of the IMRL train and missed the UP northbound.

I walked down the IMRL line in Seymour to the location of the Rock Island crossing. Looking east down the right-of-way you can see a concrete signal box, a call box on a concrete post and a tall remnant of the Rock's pole line. To the west the route is pretty well overgrown.

While we waited on the IMRL train, we heard the UP one go through Allerton. However, Myra said that this was her "first" northbound, so we hoped to catch one later. The eastbound, train 112, showed up at 12:45 with IMRL 201 and IMRL 8918. The train was a manifest with a block of intermodal cars on the rear. We heard a detector report it at 332 axles in length.

The Rock's route between the two towns is still very easy to see. Many of the poles are still in place, as well as a few small bridges. I stopped on county S40 overpass to take this picture of the right-of-way looking back east toward Seymour. Just outside of Allerton the line passes by a park with a preserved church, school and round barn. A sign said that the park was closed, "...due to vandalism and theft."

Back in Allerton we stopped for lunch beside the UP line, parking approximately where the Rock Island depot once sat. (Two of our slides of the Allerton depot can be found on the Rock Island Technical Society's web site in the Structures, Depot Images, Iowa section. There's a picture of the Seymour station, too. See RITS)

The second UP northbound, a manifest, came into town at 1:52. The lead unit, UP 6230, had particularly nice horns. UP 6214 trailed as they took the signal and headed north where the Rock Island created the "Kansas City Short Line". This location has an abrupt change in mileposts. The Short Line's MP 0.0 is here, with Carlisle at MP 64. Going south from this point starts MP 365, measured from far to the east along the now-abandoned Golden State route.

Jan pointed out that we'd heard some interesting unit numbers today. On the UP, the two northbounds were 3062 and 6230. On the IMRL, we'd heard two UP trains numbered 9909 and 9099. On the BNSF, we'd heard eastbounds 9606 and 9660, as well as 9616.

Before we left Allerton, I drove out to the east side of town and went in behind a ball field to get the above picture of the old Rock Island signal. Guess what? A well-dressed (too, for tromping through the weeds) couple from "Washington", they said, were taking pictures of each other on the right-of-way. They shared first names and said they were planning to go over to look around Seymour as well. I'm guessing the Missouri-plated Blazer was a rental. What a weird way to spend a Friday afternoon - takes all kinds, I guess!

That's It!