Des Moines, Nevada and Marshalltown

Saturday, March 1



March arrived lamb-like in central Iowa, and the accompanying thaw turned Erbe St. into a complete mud bog.  The Marion County Engineer appeared on KCCI, talking about a possible embargo restricting traffic to residents only.  Early Saturday, while the road surface was frozen, but still laced with very deep ruts, I drove Susan's Saturn out, tip-toeing on the high spots, while she followed in my Jeep.  We left her car in Pleasantville and I took her to meet her cousin in Altoona.

Byron and I then met at a nearby Casey's and went back into the city and out to Short Line Jct. to do some train watching today.  Our first stop was near the Short Line Jct. diamond, where we saw a car from an Iowa Interstate train that had been T-boned by a UP grain train a couple of Fridays ago.  Approaching from the west at about 8:30 was Job 75, with UPY 1432 and UPY 1388.

From the radio we knew that the southbound M-MCDM was expected, so we went up to the Hull Ave. area, stopping to check out remote control power, LLPX 2245 and UP 1216.  We watched and heard the engineer, standing beside the locos with his belt-pack, dial up the solar-powered switch behind the engines.  After changing its alignment, the switch reported back its position on the air.

The MCDM arrived at 8:50, with UP 4044 and 4015 on the point.  We drove back down to the junction area to see if we could catch any other traffic, but didn't have much luck.  At 10:15, a set of three units, UP 373, 4036 and 4042, came south across the NS diamond and Market St. to "spin" on the wye.  We spotted these engines in the mid-afternoon in the siding at Nevada powering a short northbound manifest.

Byron and I decided to head north, and we arrived at the southwest corner of Nevada around 11:00, just in time to see the second of two southbounds leaving for Des Moines.  They were to be followed by a track rider, so we didn't expect much traffic very soon on the "Spine Line".  In the siding east of Nevada, we found a manifest with UP 4357, 4189 and 9717.  There seemed to be plenty of traffic on the UP's east/west mainlines, and we followed an eastbound out of town along old Hwy. 30.  This train pulled up short near Colo, and we could see another eastbound stopped to the east, so we drove to the crossovers at Clear Creek to wait for them to get their signal and proceed.

At 11:25, before our eastbound moved, we had a westbound freight with UP 4897 and 9169.  The eastbound then pulled down to the Clear Creek signals, but stopped again.  Shortly, we had another westbound, an empty NORX coal train pulled by UP 5652 and 8065.

The eastbounds were not making much progress, so we moved on ahead of them toward Marshalltown.  The first train we found there was doing some switching at the west end of the yard, using the old CGW lead.  From the radio it sounded like this work was referred to as "Job 89".  They were using UP 5866 and 2453, and eventually shoved a very long string of cars out the east end down the Eddyville track.

We went to Taylor's and got our Maid-Rites before looking for a good parking spot.  Most locations were pretty muddy, so we decided to try the east end of the yard.  Just as we got to the grade crossing, at 12:33, we had an eastbound piggyback train with UP 4844 and 4669.  We found a good spot over ice and snow on the south side of the rails and enjoyed our lunch while UPY 545 and 395 switched in front of us.  By now the early morning clouds had gone and it was a pretty pleasant afternoon.

The east end job pulled a cut of cars past us just before 1:00 that had a couple of covered hoppers with some very interesting damage.  After they'd shoved back into the yard, 5866 and 2453 started pushing a long cut east from the other end of the yard, causing us to miss an eastbound.  The next train through was an eastbound at 1:10, a KGLX hopper train, with UP 8081 and 8021 in front and UP 7257 behind.

We went back into town and saw another eastbound at 1:30, this time an empty ribbon-rail work train pulled by UP 4412 and 4122.  We could hear eastbounds stacking up west of Marshalltown, and started working our way back toward Nevada.  On our return trip, I took the country roads, which alternated between mud and snow.  The drifts and plowed snow up here seemed to be even higher than we have aound Pleasantville.  We found a NORX load stopped near Lamoille with UP 7081 and 8055.  We spotted another coal train stopped between them and State Center, but couldn't see the power on that one.

Back at Clear Creek just after 2:00, we met an autorack train led by UP 9802, 9307 and 3880.  Outside of Nevada at 2:25 there was another coal load, GEAX tub gondolas with distributed power, UP 5960 and 7172 in front and UP 6697 trailing.  We also spotted the power we'd seen in Des Moines this morning on a manifest in the Nevada siding.

That's It!