Saturday, January 15

Susan and I had gone to Ames in the morning of this bitterly cold Saturday and were on the Hwy. 65 bypass heading home when I heard the BNSF/NS train getting ready to leave Des Moines.  We got off the bypass at Vandalia Road and I drove down to the NS's Glake Yard.  We waited for a few minutes and the train came out of the yard just after 2:30.  Three SD's and a four-axle GE unit led 65 cars, 26 tanks of diesel fuel for Albia, 29 cars for New London and 10 for Burlington.  The locos were FURX 3019, BNSF 7831, 7037 and 8611.

We waited for the entire train to cross in front of us and then to clear the Vandalia Road crossing before heading east parallel to the tracks.  At the next grade crossing I got a couple of pictures as the train approached and curved away into the woods.  Our next stop was part way up a grade, near MP 57.  This portion of the run to Albia is on ex-Wabash tracks, still in jointed rail.  There was quite a bit of rock-n-roll as the train came up the hill and passed us again.

The tracks and the paved road we were following parted for a while before coming back together just east of Runnells.  Here the right-of-way turns south to cross the Des Moines River on a bridge constructed when the Red Rock Dam project was done.  The old Wabash line stayed on the north side of the river and much of it is now under water.  The Des Moines to West Quincy train came off of the bridge at 3:13, now on welded rail and moving away from us at a pretty good clip.  After crossing the river the rails move to what was originally CB&Q right-of-way for most of the trip to Albia.

We gave chase and tried for an interception at a gravel road crossing to the southeast, but there was too much ice left on the county roads and we couldn't keep up.  We saw the train cross in front of us at a distance as they started up the hill into Pleasantville.  At this point bells started ringing on the power.  They had a problem with the lead unit and apparently stopped to take the unit off line.  I heard the engineer make a disparaging remark about the FURX loco's mother, followed by, "We'll see if three will take it up the hill."

This gave us plenty of time to get into Pleasantville ahead of the train and wait for them by a grade crossing at the west end of town.  The train made the hill and came past the siding at 3:30.  They crossed 40th St. (aka N. State St.) and continued on toward Albia.  Over the summer, the boards in this grade crossing were struck by a locomotive pilot and there was for some time a speed restriction in place.  Lately, at least one broken tie's been replaced and the restriction removed.  However, as you can see by comparing this shot and the one taken at 40th, there's still very little clearance as an eastbound loco bounces along on the rough track.

That's It!