Amtrak at Ottumwa
Thursday, February 17 and Sunday, February 20
Susan was going to take Amtrak to
Chicago to attend a wedding, so we left early Thursday morning to catch
No. 6 in Ottumwa. Calls to Amtrak's "Julie" reported the train
just a few minutes down from its 9:09 scheduled arrival. We got
there early, got Susan's tickets from the agent at the depot, and had
time to go to a coffee shop in downtown Ottumwa. There we ran
into retired engineer Bill Greenly, who these days hangs out in an
antique mall selling his carvings as "Billy Whittle".
The Zephyr showed up at the ICE diamonds around 9:50. Leading Susan's ride were ATK 203 and 163. After getting her aboard, I walked toward the east end of the platform and got some pictures as the inbound engineer waited for his relief. 203 had been in some rough service and had a few dents and rusty spots. With the fresh crew aboard, they rolled, reporting ":02 and :13" to the dispatcher.
Two coal trains were waiting on the passenger train, an empty to the east and a load behind them. I hung around until these trains were through the station. The load was in first, mixed box gons behind BNSF 6258 and 9467, the latter a very high mileage, early SD-70. I missed the rear unit on this train, as it was hidden by the empty that appeared about 10:20. Leading the set of UCEX hoppers were BNSF 6161 and 6122, with BNSF 9840 on the rear.
No. 5 was scheduled into Ottumwa at 6:53, and I planned to arrive early
enough to see some traffic ahead of the passenger train. I had
the scanner on in the car, and as I approached the city around 5:15, I
heard the dispatcher talking to Amtrak. This was puzzling for a
minute, until I realized that she was talking to a very late No. 6,
over eight hours down. I managed to get to the depot in time to
see the inbound engineer (Jack Kruger again, I believe) waiting to be relieved. It looked like someone had had a little accident all over the side of the lead unit, ATK 199. Trailing elephant-style was ATK 158. The crew was changed, and the Zephyr rolled on toward Chicago about 5:30. In the distance in this shot, you can see a guy running to beat the passenger train. The train had some private varnish, "Patrón Tequila Express" on the rear.
There was quite a bit of traffic preceding Susan's ride, which had been
running on time until it got to Agency. Passengers waited while
several westbounds came through before the westbound CZ was brought in
for its station stop. Too dark for pictures!