Tuesday was the anniversary of Virtual Train Watching in Iowa. Even though the roads were barely open from Sunday's midwest blizzard, Jan and I managed to make a trip "around the block" to Chariton and Osceola. The Jeep thermometer showed three above when we left town on Highway 92.
We got to Chariton just in time for two trains. The first, at 9:33, was an eastbound manifest with BN 7009 and EMD 6418 in charge. Just as that train was by us, a coal empty of JHMX cars showed up with BN 9468, BN 5050, BN 9245, and a fourth BN that neither of us got the number of. Snow was piled everywhere, and the trains were blasting through piles left by the road graders.
We drove on out to the east end of town to wait on another eastbound that we'd heard was coming up Whitebreast Hill west of Chariton. They arrived at 10:08 with AEPX coal gons and BN 9497 and 9472. 9497 had a nice snow cap and horns that sounded like they had quite a bit of ice in them.
We waited around to see if we'd hear of any more traffic on the radio, but there was nothing. Jan made a call to 1-800-USA-RAIL to see how number six was doing and was told that they would be in Osceola at 10:45 - not enough time for us to drive all the way over there. I decided to go to the Stephen's Forest bridge for a shot of the Zephyr today.
The westward track was occupied by the maintenance of way forces at several locations between the CTC at Albia and Osceola, so we knew we would not see any westbounds for a while. While we waited for the CZ, Track Inspector J.P. Cotrell rolled his highrailer by and was followed by a welder who stopped to fix an open joint on a bridge just east of us. We finally heard the passenger train report out of Osceola at 11:44 - an hour later than our phone information.
The picture was worth waiting for. At noon, the CZ came under the bridge with 67, 51, 113 and 372 on the head end. I guess they were trying to protect the schedule with all that power. At that, they were two and a half hours down. After a friendly "toot-toot" from the engineer, they shot under the bridge and we finally drove carefully back through the drifts to Highway 34.
At Osceola, repair of a broken rail was underway on the westbound just east of the depot. It was difficult going, and Roadmaster Butch Vanderpool's forces managed to get one of their trucks stuck in the process of their work. A local construction company grader was brought in to pull it free.
Before heading back north for Indianola, we saw two coal loads come through. The first was at 2:25, with BN 9478 and 9670 and MPWX hoppers. Just behind them, ten minutes later was another, with BN 9800 and BNSF 9858 in the garish Heritage II paint scheme.