I was running along beside the Des Moines branch just north of Albia when the detector announced another westbound. I went directly to the west end of the yard and could see the headlights in the distance when I arrived just before dawn at 6:50. The train, a set of empty PSTX cars, was led by BNSF 5685 and 5629. I watched them roll down the hill under the moon, still visible in the early morning western sky.
I spent a few minutes looking around and managed to miss a third empty in the fleet of westbounds, led by BN 9414. I called to check on Amtrak and learned that No. 6 was three hours and forty minutes late, expected at Ottumwa at 12:39. From the radio I learned that an eastbound was ready to start up the hill, so I headed for the "packing house" (aka "double") crossing in the southeast corner of Albia. Along the way, I found this 6-axle unit, RLCX 3005, parked on a stub track in the Appenoose County railroad yard.
The eastbound was invited up Albia Hill by dispatcher KRS, but told that they would be waiting at Maxon because there were two broken rails ahead east of Ottumwa on Agency Hill. I heard them on the radio reporting, "Approach to Maxon, 11 MPH", and they came into sight, grinding up the hill, at 7:22. The lead unit BNSF 8885, came by and a few minutes later UCEX hoppers had passed and the rear end, with BNSF 9905, rounded the curve over the two crossings. Apparently too many motorists have been short-cutting the crossings and barricades have been placed in the maintenance road beside the BNSF rails.
Shortly, 8885 was given a warrant to come ahead to the ICE crossing at Ottumwa. The detector reported the distributed power train at 532 axles. I went to Hwy. 34 and drove on east to Ottumwa. At about 7:30 I heard a westbound, BNSF 5697, getting a warrant to come from Fairfield and figured I would catch them in Ottumwa. I intercepted them just east of the depot at 8:15. 5697 was leading, with CSX 91, and a set of DEEX cars.
The Ottumwa Sub. dispatcher made a plan to cross his eastbounds over to
Main 1 to get them around the work on the broken rails. They would
run "left-handed" between MP 278.1, just east of the Ottumwa yard, and a
crossover at Fairfield. By later in this morning there would be five
coal loads stacked up and waiting east of Ottumwa. I drove out to Iowa
Avenue to wait for traffic at the bottom of Agency Hill. Pretty soon
Iowa railfan Dave Kroeger showed up and I climbed into his pickup for a visit
with Dave and his son Garrett.
At my suggestion, Dave put in a call to the BNSF's dispatching center and
we asked KRS why he wasn't at the Quincy Mall today running toy trains. Kevin's
stayed active in the Great River club and often does attend this event. As
always, we were treated to a short diatribe about how superior the BNSF was
to the Union Pacific. Interestingly, a few days later the BNSF dispatchers
in Fort Worth staged a short walkout over personal leave time. At 8:30
Dave and I jumped out of our vehicles for an eastbound,
BNSF 9898 and BN 9415
with FSTX cars.
At 9:00 I went to the Amtrak depot and walked to the far west end of the
platform for the next coal load. This was
the same train I'd seen on Albia Hill earlier, BNSF
8885 leading and 9905 in the rear. Later Saturday, after I was back at
home, I received a picture of myself taking pictures
of 8885 from Joel Vander Molen. He and his dad were down from Pella
for the train show and to do some train-watching today. Joel does most
of the maintenance on the Rock
Island Technical Society's site these days.
I went west to the last grade crossing east of the ICE diamonds to wait
on an eastbound that was parked at the ICE crossover. At 9:30 a track
smoothing gang came west on Main 2 and crossed
over in front of the eastbound. Tom Cottrell stopped his machine and visited, opening with the usual, "When
are you going to retire?" question. While we talked, Foreman Elva
Sheets stopped in his truck and called KRS to get a warrant for his gang
to go west. Bringing up the rear of the
equipment parade was an endloader pulling a load
I waited quite a while for the eastbound to move, but finally gave up
at 10:30 and went across town to the Quincy Mall to check out the train show.
There seemed to be a pretty good collection of vendors this year and
the Burlington "Great River" club was present with their modular HO setup.
Among the numerous familiar sections of the layout was one that I didn't
recognize with a nicely-detailed elevator, mill and used tractor lot.
After visiting with a number of old friends at the show, I got some
take-out and went back over to the BNSF mains.
The first train through, at 11:45, was a distributed
power UCEX train with BN 9683 in front and BNSF 9926 on the rear.
They were told by the dispatcher that they would be waiting at Fairfield
for Amtrak today. I went back to Iowa Avenue for the next one, another DP coal load at 12:10, with BNSF 8927 in front of a set of FURX cars. BNSF
2951 was waiting to go east out of the Ottumwa yard as the coal train's
rear unit, BNSF 9731, passed.
AMTK 100 and 25After the smoke cleared, the local came west out of the yard about 2:00 with a long string of syrup tanks. I caught them west near the ICE diamonds where I had a visit with several other 'buffs, including UP MOP John Smith from Marshalltown. The local had BNSF 2278 and 4257 on the point. I made a quick stop in Albia on the way home to get this power, BNSF 780, parked in the yard behind the spreader that was in the first picture of the day.
Transition Sleeper 39007
Sleepers 32083 and 32044
Sightseer Lounge 33043
Coaches 34138, 31031 and 31011.
Nothing on the rear, only 44 axles today.