Ottumwa

Quincy Mall Train Meet

March 11



This Saturday I contacted a couple of Indianola railfans to see if they'd like to go to Ottumwa for a train meet.  The first, Dennis Williams, was leaving for a cruise to celebrate his 25th anniversary and his wife wouldn't let him postpone it for even one day.  The other, Paul Speer, who's a very serious freight car fan, decided to come along today. Paul and Dennis model the Rio Grande and have a large HO layout in Dennis's basement.

Paul and I got out of town at 8:00.  We had a clear and cool spring morning and we drove down to Lucas and then headed east along Hwy. 34.  At home, around 7:25, I'd heard a westbound with CSX power get its warrant at Albia, and I thought we might be able to intercept it before it got by Lucas.  On the way down we heard the Kansas City desk dispatcher, "SLY" talking to the train, which had apparently been stopped by the Russell detector.

We headed out on Russell Boulevard and soon spotted the train pulling slowly toward Chariton.  The conductor found brakes dragging on a car with a retaining valve set incorrectly.  They decided to pull ahead to a grade crossing, drop off the conductor and then make a backup move to pick him up.  We got pictures of the train as they pulled into Chariton.  Power for the PSTX empty was CSX 81 and 7528.  From reading his 3/11 news post, I think "Grumpy" may have spotted this same train near Waverly  late in the afternoon.

It sounded like several trains were behind the CSX one, so Paul and I drove to Russell to see if we could find one waiting there.  We also knew from the scanner that a couple of eastbounds were out of Creston.  There'd been no word on the radio on Amtrak, so when we got ourselves situated by the tracks in Russell, I put in a call to 800-USA-RAIL.

After a very long time on hold (Not that it matters - I have 100 shared minutes and nobody to share them with!  Which reminds me - do you need a '95 Contour SE with everything, including a hands-free cell phone?  My late friend's low-mileage ride is for sale.) we learned that due to a "derailment on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe", No. 6 had been "rerouted between Denver and Omaha" and would be "five to eight hours late".

About this time, a track rider who'd been let out  of Chariton ahead of the delayed CSX train, called in to report a stripped joint down by Lucas.  The CSX train, rolling west after an 8:10 to 9:15 delay, was given a 10 mph slow order and the following train was told to hold back of the crossovers at 333.10 (just east of Chariton) in case they needed to reverse around the trackwork.  They replied that they had 3:45 left before dying on the law.  Even without ATK in the picture, SLY's morning was becoming more interesting!

The train short on time came into Russell at 9:20.  This was a CWEX empty with BNSF 8926 and BN 9430 in charge.  Paul and I decided to head on up the line, although it sounded like we could easily have spent the morning around Chariton and seen plenty of traffic.

We got to Albia and Old Maxon just a few minutes before meeting another westbound at 10:30.  This was a CWEX empty again, powered by BN 6385 and EMD (aka Oakway) 9020.  It was the Red Baron, scarf waving from the handrail!  We knew there was one coming up the hill behind us and it arrived before 6385's train cleared the area.  This was a coal load, with a block of BN cars leading ETRX ones, and had BN 9654 and BNSF 9850 on the point.

On the south siding at Maxon we found an articulated gondola (Long Gon?) with a crane that crawls along the top of the car to pick up old ties.  On the west end was EMD 741.

We made up our minds to ignore the traffic and head on for Ottumwa, but as we drove back toward Albia the gates went down and we had to stop for another westbound.  This was BNSF 9943 and BN 9631 with an AEPX empty.  After waiting for them to pass (being a freightcar fiend, Paul has to watch the whole train) we knew an eastbounder was getting close to the top, so we went back to a gravel road crossing on the hill.  Pretty soon the welded rail started ringing and another train came into sight.  This time (10:51) we watched BN 9763 and 9470 pull ACCX hoppers by.

After these last two trains, we finally did get back on the road toward Ottumwa.  We pulled into the IMRL yard there around 11:20, and found railfans Dave Kroeger and Russ Lyon already present and taking pictures while waiting on an eastbound UP stacker.  Dave's a very well-known railfan now living in the Des Moines area and Russ, whom I'd only "met" on the Internet, is from Washington, Iowa.  In the yard were IMRL 606 and 353, 378 and 200 tacked on the front of a grain train, made up mostly of KCS cars.

Paul and I headed for the mall to see who was around and to browse the goodies for sale.  Two HO modular layouts were set up near the center of the mall, one from the Great River Railway Club and another labeled "M, Z and D", which I learned stood for Matt, Zach and Dad.  That's dad in the picture.  This model railroad had a representation of the swing bridge at Hannibal, Missouri, which I'd seen here in 1998 displayed with the Quincy Society of Model Engineers layout.

The Great River layout again featured a very nice inside corner module, redone since '98, and with a well-detailed main street module next to it.  As usual, the whole affair was under the watchful eye of BNSF dispatcher "KRS".

After lunch (MaidRites, but not as good as Taylors, and no shakes!) Paul and I did some more shopping.  I got another chance to meet face-to-face an Internet aquaintance, Dave Lotz of the Burlington Route Historical Society, and picked up some Bulletins on Burlington and the Burlington shops.

After spending our money, we joined a group watching a slide show in an empty mall location. Dave Kroeger presented a show at 1:30, starting with Milwaukee stuff from when he was a youngster through modern pictures along the IMRL.  Good show; I got a chance to see quite a few unfamiliar locations along the old Milwaukee trackage.

After the slide show, Paul and I started back west toward home.  The same power was still sitting in the IMRL yard when we left town around 2:30.  We heard some switching and an air test being done on the BNSF as we neared Albia and we went back out to Maxon, arriving just in time to see the local make its last move and take off eastbound.  On the head end of a very short train were BNSF 2291,  BN 2112 and BNSF 1495.

Somewhere around Chariton, No. 6 got by us.  We heard them clear up at Halpin around 4:30 as we were on our way north from Lucas on Hwy. 65.

That's It!