Quincy Mall Meet in Ottumwa
Saturday, February 28

Byron came over on Friday night so that we could go to Ottumwa together on Saturday.  We left Indianola around 7:15 and drove south to the BNSF mainlines at Lucas, then headed east along Hwy. 34.  I'd made an early call to Amtrak and learned that No. 6 was over five hours down today.  (This report will be a bit short of the usual details due to a tape recorder malfunction.)  We had a warm and fairly clear day, with large flocks of geese heading north across Iowa.  On the way down to Lucas we monitored the radio and knew that we had an eastbound "DENGAL" coming toward us from Osceola and several trains approaching from the CTC at Albia.  We stopped in Chariton for two trains.

The DENGAL appeared at 8:10 and came by the depot and our post near a grade crossing.   On the point were BNSF 6854, FURX 7271 and BNSF 9254.  We knew that an eastbound was getting pretty close and it came around the tight curves in town less than a minute after the rear of the DENGAL cleared.  This was a coal empty with BNSF 5686 and CSXT 7335 in the lead.  The BNSF unit was in very fresh paint.

We headed east out of town knowing that there were more westbounds getting pretty close.  We took a gravel south off of 34 on the west side of Russell and arrived just as the gates were going down to intercept BNSF 9992.  This DP coal empty, that we caught at 8:30, trailed BNSF 5602.

Byron and I moved into town to wait for two more westbounds.  At 8:42 we caught an antique lead unit and a set of PSTX cars with BNSF 2808, EMDX 807 and BNSF 7074.  Remember those '30's in red, white and gray?  I think I have a slide of a set of them taken under a signal bridge just west of the Chariton depot.  Just ten minutes behind we saw another DP empty with BNSF 8936 in the lead and BN 9696 in back.

We arrived at the Quincy Mall in Ottumwa just after 10:00.  The meet seemed less well-populated than last year, but maybe we were just a bit early.  The Great River club modular HO layout was already running.  They always bring modules with just about the best modeling of buildings and scenery you'll find.  I took a number of pictures:

City scene
Depot and motel cabins
Texaco station
Byron and I had a short visit with Dave Kroeger and BNSF dispatcher "KRS", Kevin Schelen.  After discussing some of the traffic we'd seen that morning, "Kid" Schelen informed us that the BNSF was running "sixty to seventy trains a day" on this line.  Yeah, right, Kevin.

We looked around the train show for a while and then went to the east end of the BNSF yard where we ran into Kroeger again.  BNSF 2336, 2532 and 2520 were just returning from doing some switching southeast of the yard.  From the radio we knew that a coal load was approaching, and we caught it running for Agency Hill at 11:52.  The NCUX tub gondolas had BN 9715 in front and BNSF 8890 pushing hard on the rear.

We got some lunch and parked on the south side of the rails just east of the passenger depot.  At 12:45 we had an empty come through, FURX cars with BNSF 8985 and distributed power.  On the rear, BNSF 9827.

We couldn't tell for certain from the radio, but it sounded like there might be some activity on the ICE, so we moved west to park by the BNSF/ICE diamonds.  Eventually, the ICE dispatcher decided that the northbound train, already in the yard, would have to wait to meet a southbound at the yard due to the trains' lengths.  While at the diamonds we caught another empty.  This train came through at 1:26 with mighty dirty BN 9683 and BNSF 8922.

From the radio we knew that Amtrak was getting closer and would probably be the next eastbound.  We moved back to our postion east of the depot to wait for the Zephyr.  The headlights of No. 6 appeared at 2:35.  The train pulled in and made a fairly long stop, giving passengers time to drop down onto the platform for a little break.  After the train had changed engineers, they were on their way again.

Byron and I went back to the Quincy mall for a few minutes before leaving town.  There we found KRS enthusiastically dispatching at 3.5mm to the foot.  After leaving the mall we made a quick stop at the ICE yard to check out the northbound.  It had three units, ICE 6451, 6421 and 6441.  We noticed that the EMD units now carried GE labels, too.

We made one stop on the way home to intercept another train.  We could hear DP EOT noises on the scanner when we got to Chariton and at 4:18 we caught a coal load with BNSF 9970, a set of 1980-built gondolas relettered for GBRX and BNSF 8964.

That's It!