Ottumwa Train Show

Saturday, March 8



To start my last Spring Break at Simpson, I went to Ottumwa for a train meet at the Quincy Mall with Mark Van Wyk.  Mark and I met in Pleasantville at 7:00 and drove south through Melcher to Chariton.  We had a clear and cold morning for our trip, with the thermometer reading 2* above.

At 7:50 we had our first train, a westbound manifest led by BNSF 7778 and 5009.  I put in a call to Amtrak's "Julie" and learned that the California Zephyr was doing pretty well this morning, only a half hour down, and expected in Osceola at 9:16.  Mark and I headed east along Hwy. 34, stopping first in Albia.  Things were pretty quiet on the radio, but we did find something interesting at the Relco plant.  CP 8814 was perched on a 16-wheel flat car sitting on the south wye track.   The conductor's side of the loco had quite a bit of damage.  Nearby there was a flatbed semi trailer with a three-axle locomotive truck.

We got to the mall a little early, but went in anyway and started to check out the displays and vendors.  A local hobby shop proprietor had a Z diesel racing around a very small layout, circling at around 10 rpm.  Most of the sights at the train meet were pretty familiar from previous years, and the meet seems to be shrinking somewhat.  We visited with BNSF dispatcher Kevin Schelen, now found most of the time on the Ottumwa desk, working from the IC&E RRX east.

Mark and I went into town and parked the Jeep  near the IC&E diamonds to await Amtrak.  (The Jeep's had a rough week - the Marion County engineer apparently decided not to intervene as Erbe St. deteriorated into a mud bog.  Susan's happy to have found a man with lots of ground clearance, we parked her Saturn sedan at a place on the paving and have used the Cherokee for a shuttle.)

The IC&E diamonds have new, very sturdy-looking guard rails.  Before long Amtrak No. 6 arrived and stopped to copy a warrant.  At 10:55 they were on the move again and crossing the IC&E.  In the California Zephyr's short consist today:

AMTK 14 and 180
Baggage 1705
Transition Sleeper 39012
Sleepers 32021 and 32025
Diner 38011
Sightseer Lounge 33027
Coaches 34078 and 34074
At 11:15 Mark and I watched a westbound FSTX/PSTX empty with BNSF 6079 and BNSF 8949 rattle across the diamonds.  We knew that an IC&E northbound was ready to leave the yard, and as soon as the coal empty cleared, they came around the corner and charged for Rutledge Hill.  This train had six units:
DME 6077
ICE 6458
ICE 6405
ICE 6404
CP 6089
ICE 6420
They moved across the junction and up the hill about as fast as I've observed any train on that grade.

After lunch and a visit to the local hobby shop, we caught one more train on our Ottumwa vist, a coal load with BN tub gondolas at 1:15.  In the lead were BNSF 9988 and 9415, and in DP at the rear, BNSF 9609.

That's It!