I continued using that camera and a laptop computer to do excursions. After a few postings a man named Dan Dawdy, who had started a site called Cyberspace World Railroad, emailed me and pointed out that I could link directly to images without providing a separate page, and the style, such as it is, of these pages was set. Back then I was on a large railroad email list, (firstname.lastname@example.org), and I would send the text of each excursion to the list along with an invitation to visit my web site to see the pictures. I always signed off with this "ASCII Art" signature, recalling my Rock Island railfan days:
8|######## ROCK ##### |______| |8
email@example.com || ISLAND __|  |_____||
||________________________/ _| |___|_||
Dick Tinder | ||| | | | | | | / | 1259 | # ||| |
Simpson College |=|==================o=====o==================|=|
Indianola, IA 50125 /|-|| (0)|==|(0) (o)(o)|_________| (0)|==|(0) ||-|\
Virtual Train Watching in Iowa: http://www.simpson.edu/~tinder/
We were in the last week before break this year and I have a schedule this semester with no classes on Thursdays. Since that day was the anniversary, I decided to visit Osceola again and get a few pictures. I'm now on my fifth digital camera and am no longer using the college's equipment to take the pictures. Simpson does very kindly allow me to use their web server, however, and I ran a little script to count the files the other day. It came up with almost 39,000 documents. I estimate that around 38,000 of those are images of trains. When out train chasing I usually take about twice as many pictures as reach the WWW, so, not counting the shots of family get-togethers and other miscellaneous stuff, I've been averaging about 650 images a month.
Thursday I left home about 5:20 in hopes of getting some sunrise shots. It was overcast, breezy and 31 degrees. We'd had a light snow overnight. I drove south through Melcher/Dallas and on down to Chariton. On the way I heard a couple of westbounds getting warrants at Albia to go to Creston. Amtrak's "Julie" reported the Zephyr an hour and a few down, but expected at Osceola at 8:49. Things were pretty quiet in Chariton and it was still too dark for pictures, so I moved on down Whitebreast Hill and parked at the bottom near the crossovers at Shannon. The approach-lit signals came on about 6:40 and my first train of the day, a COEH coal load with distributed power, came through at 6:45.
I knew there was another coming down the hill and they showed up just a couple of minutes later. This train had one of the old "Oakway" units, EMD 9012, and BNSF 7184 leading a set of WSCX cars. I decided to follow this one over to Osceola and took off westbound on Hwy. 34. I got to Osceola just ahead of the train. While I was driving through town I heard the detector count them at 448 axles. I also heard them exchange "okay on..." messages with an eastbound that I missed. I caught the westbound again west of town as they rounded a curve and headed west parallel to the old highway.
I drove back into town and heard the detector announce another westbound at 7:25 as I was waiting for at stoplight in Osceola. I barely got to the tracks in time to get some shots of a CEFX empty with three units, BNSF 9959, 8?38 and 4167. I heard the "okay.." radio conversation again shortly and at about 7:50 an eastbound arrived. They had a mix of FSTX/PSTX tub gons with BNSF 9537 and 9488 on the point. The dynamics were roaring as the head end went by and the brakes on the cars were hot due to a slow order just east of the depot at MP 359.
It was just a few minutes before another westbound came through. This was relatively short (for a coal train) one with just 90 cars. On the point were BNSF 4997 and 8909. As you can see the sky was clearing. What doesn't show is that the wind, from the northwest, was also picking up quite dramatically. At 8:15 I had another eastbound load, CEFX/GCCX/GEAX tubs pulled by BN 9534 and BNSF 9901.
There was quite a bit of "maintenance in the way" activity going on
around the depot. A highrailer got on Main 1 and went east, then
back west past the depot. At the same time one of the larger trucks
was loading up a piece of rail. Just after
9:00 the Zephyr repeatedly called the depot on the radio, but they weren't
able to reach anyone. The passenger train
came in at 9:10 and rolled to a smooth stop
just past the end of the platform. Engineer Eric Ogundipe was at
the throttle today. They loaded passengers
(that white thing is an auger on the back of a feed truck) and were away
quickly, reporting the stop as ":10 and :12" to the KC desk dispatcher.
In No. 6 this morning:
AMTK 170 and 55
Transition Sleeper 39014
Sleepers 32011 and 32044
Sightseer Lounge 33043
Coaches 34138 and 31031
Just 40 axles today. I wonder if that train will just keep getting shorter until it's gone completely?
We enjoyed about an hour of sunshine Thursday before strong northwest winds brought the clouds back in. At this point the KC desk started giving pieces of the mainlines up to the maintenance people, so I headed back to campus.