Great Midwestern Division NMRA Meet

Urbandale, February 22

On Saturday I headed for the spring model railroad meet in Urbandale.  We had a cool and hazy morning in central Iowa, 28 degrees and windy.  I stopped by Hull Avenue Yard at 8:30 to check out the power on a grain train that had just come into town.  On the point were UP 7218 and SP 196.  This train would be recrewed and depart mid-afternoon.  I noticed that new crossing gates had been installed at a Dean Ave. crossing just north of Short Line Junction, protecting the mainline and the northeast leg of the wye leading into the yard.

I got to the meet right at 9:00.  A line had formed outside the entrance to the building at the meet location, St. Pius X Parish Center.  The fans found it pretty chilly waiting outdoors in the winter air for a chance to get at the registration desk.

The gym was packed with vendors and rail buffs.  I heard that the club had sold 73 tables.  A few layouts were on display as well.  The Des Moines NTrak group had a small modular setup including a model of a drive-in theater.  The "Termite Lumber Co." was on hand and still for sale.  Next door there was a small Lionel setup with some rolling stock that the youngsters were happily playing with.  The Rock Island Technical Society was on hand with their attractive display board.

Two rooms near the gym were in use for the model contest and the silent auction.  A number of models were entered in the contest, under fairly broad categories like "Locomotives" and "On Line Structures".  I got pictures of some of the locos, a scratchbuilt steamer - MILW 943, a Fort Dodge electric loco and CB&Q 153.  Among the structures was a yard tower, the Fort Dodge depot, and another depot with a highly detailed interior.

In the afternoon I attended one of the clinics, a presentation by George Niles on Michigan Cal Logging Company.  George had several models of logging locos on display, showing dramatically the difference in scales available to the modeler.

After the train meet two local clubs hosted open houses.  The first one Susan and I attended was the Central Iowa Railroad Club's at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.  The CIRC is a large, mature layout featuring elaborate detailing on virtually every inch of the club's setup.  Unfortunately, there was little operation when we were there, just a doodlebug running the mainline.

We then went into the city and visited the Raccoon Valley Club layout, which is soon to be moved from their University Ave. location near Drake University.  This club has three layouts in one room, a fairly well scenicked N scale setup, an HO layout and a large O gauge line as well.  All three scales had trains running.  On the O line, the scratchbuilt MILW steamer that I'd seen at the model contest was running, operated by its builder, Ed Truslow.

Odds and Ends

February 23 - Beech, Iowa

On a very cold Sunday morning I was able to intercept a southbound on the UP's "Spine Line" just north of Beech.  This manifest had UP 4470 and 4990 on the point.  They took the curve north of town just after 8:00 a.m., slowing for the north siding switch.

March 6 - Short Line Junction

On my way home from a shopping trip in Des Moines last Thursday afternoon I stopped by Short Line.  A complete train was being shoved east onto a yard track by Job 6.  The train had UP 4113, 8617 and 4512 on the point.  The yard power consisted of UPY 1432 and 372.

It was close to 6:00 when the train cleared the diamond. The sun was setting behind the buildings of downtown Des Moines and barely lit the collection of power at the engine service area.  After the yard job cleared the way, a southbound ITDA was given the light and came down to the junction from Easton Boulevard.  The train crossed Dean Avenue and rattled across the diamond at 6:12.

That's It!