A Warm Midwinter Day in Boone

Saturday, January 26

Byron and I decided to meet in Boone for some UP-watching on this warm winter day in Iowa.  I left Indianola just after 5:30 in the morning - the temperature was already over 40 and climbing with a strong south breeze.  I got to Jordan at 6:40, just intercepting a westbound with UP 6308, 6826 and SP 233.  From discussion with the dispatcher on the radio, I learned that the SP unit was to be set out on the "Ramp Track" in the Boone Yard.  I went on down to the east end of the Boone Yard.  At the "Hard Road" crossing, another rail fan was already in place and an eastbound train was just leaving as 6308 caught up with me.

I drove on west through town and headed for the Des Moines River valley and the Kate Shelley bridge.  Near the Boone and Scenic Valley depot I met an EDGX coal load pulled by UP 6790 and 8226.

It was quite a bit cooler (31) down in the river valley.  I parked on the north side of the bridge and waited for a chance to photograph trains as they crossed in the early morning light.  Byron and I had agreed to meet in town at 7:30, and I finally had some traffic on the bridge at 7:25, a coal load behind a UP and SP lash-up.

Back in town Byron was watching as the first westbound was getting its train back together after dropping the SP engine.  Byron got into the Jeep and went back down into the valley to check out the work in progress on the high bridge.  A construction road had been built from the county road east along the north side of the bridge to reach an elevator and crane at the west end of the bridge's center span.  Work was in progress on the box truss section over the Des Moines River which now sports a small office as well as the requisite American flag.  Speaking of which, we saw no evidence today of the security patrol that I've met on my recent visits to the Kate Shelley structure.

Right at 8:00, 6308 came onto the bridge with its manifest.  They came to a very abrupt stop on the bridge just before the head end reached the west side, paused for a while and then proceeded westward.  At 8:20 we had an eastbound stacker with UP 4592, 9620 6227 and 9557.  We knew that another train was fairly close behind, so after the stacker passed, we moved back up out of the river valley and waited on an overpass a couple of miles east of the bridge.

The following train, a short block of piggybacks, appeared at 8:32.  In these pictures you can see the orange top of the bridge crane standing above the trees north of the bridge.  Power on this eastbounder was UP 4184 and 9729.  I noticed in the picture that someone had chalked measurements on 4184's pilot.  After taking a close-up of the conductor and watching the train pass under us, we headed back into Boone.

We checked out the Boone Yard a couple of times during the day.  Among the locos we found there were UP 9524, 9758 and 6635, ex-CNW UP Y1328 and 1326, UP 405 and 849, and UP 408 with UP Y545.

At 9:15 we caught an eastbound in town with containers and automobiles, powered by UP 4728 and 9070.  We next moved to the east end of the yard for several trains.  Several coal trains were parked in the yard, one with power on it.  At 9:52 a westbound stack train took the north track around a coal empty waiting out near the Shamrock crossing.  On the point of the stacker were UP 4579 and 9574.  We both noticed that some of the 4500-series locos now have horns that sound like Amtrak's.  The coal empty, a set of CWEX cars, started west as soon as the stacker was by.  It was powered by UP 6749 and CNW 8823.  I got another shot of the CNW GE, these paint jobs will soon be history.

Next up was a coal train that stopped for a quick crew change at 10:11.  On the point of the red-trimmed KGLX hoppers were UP 6682, 6792 and 6588.  The yard van traded out the train crew and they were on the move again in just 5 minutes.  By this time another train was waiting out at Shamrock, a DETX empty with UP 7123 and SP 219.

We went back into town and around behind the new yard office for the next train, a westbound manifest that stopped for a few minutes.  This train had UP 7152, 6603 and 8216 on the point.  They pulled out at 10:42 and we were on the north side this time, where we could see that at some point 6603 had gotten very warm.

Byron and I moved to a parking lot west of the old C&NW depot for the next few trains.  At 10:55 we caught a CWEX coal load with UP 7235 and 7243.   They were followed at 11:13 by a manifest behind UP 9690, 2796, 9031 and 7567.  This train crossed over to the south track on the movable frog switches in front of us.  After a trip through the yard, we caught one westbound at the "hard road" crossing and then went east out to the elevator at Jordan for another.  The first train, just before noon, was a manifest with 6561 and 9132.  Out at Jordan a few minutes later we intercepted a set of empty MCHX tub gons pulled by UP 6526 and 6669.

By noon, the temperature had risen to 61 degrees.  We went back to our location west of the depot for lunch and caught a stacker at 12:50 that had crossed over to pass 6526 and was now back on the south rail.  This train was powered by UP 4449, 4305 and 4562. 6526 came through about 15 minutes later to follow the stack train out of town.  By this time we'd been joined by another rail fan who'd stopped to get a picture.

At this point we decided to call it a day.  Byron headed west and reported later that he'd met quite a bit of eastbound traffic on the way home.  I went south on the interstate and drove to Short Line Yard in Des Moines for a look around.  I checked out the fuel tracks first and noted a couple of trains getting set to go on the old Rock Island mainlines.

At the junction, I found Indianola boy (now Iowa State student) Mike Endres and another fan who is often at the junction on weekends.  At ten after three a South St. Paul train pulled out with UP 3021 and "patch" 3043.  They went up the Fort Dodge line to let the M-DMDM come south on the mainline.  The DMDM showed up at 3:45 with 3022 and 3048.  That's Mike taking pictures in the foreground.

After getting up so early, it seemed like I'd already had a long day, so at this point I said my good-byes to the other fans at the junction and headed for Indianola.

That's It!