Spring Break on the UP

Tuesday, March 14


I took advantage of a clear morning to do some train-chasing during Simpson's spring break.  I headed first for Des Moines and found Short Line Yard pretty quiet today.  Around 7:50, there was a northbound manifest pulling slowly out of town on the Fort Dodge line at Hull Avenue, with UP 3026, 2973 and 2961.  Dispatcher Myra was talking to a southbound, the M-CNKC, at Nevada, and it sounded like she had another on its taillight.

I figured these would have to meet somewhere and started north out of town on I-35.  I intercepted the CN train just before it went under the highway at 8:10.  Snow-covered CN 2500 was leading, with WC 7526 attached "elephant-style" behind.  Just after I got back in the Jeep I heard the Elkhart detector, so I went east off the Interstate on F38 to the nearest grade crossing and, at 8:25, caught what turned out to be an M-EADM with UP 3371, 3305 and 3671.

I got to the Nevada Junction area at about 9:00, just in time to see a grain extra come off of the mainlines and head around the corner toward Des Moines.  They had an interesting mix of power, UP 3791, TFM 1614, MRL 8941 and KCS 646.  After a short restroom break, I went to the mains in Nevada and watched an AERX coal empty come through at 9:20 behind UP 7329 and CSX 87.

I'd been listening to discussion on the radio about getting a train out of Ames Yard and moving it up the Jewell Sub., so I drove over to Ames and parked on the south side of the rails near where the Jewell line connects.  There was another "buff" there, with an Iowa State plate reading "CYTRAIN".  He waved, but was talking on his cell phone pretty much the whole time he was there and he left quickly as the train headed north out of town.

While we waited on the Jewell train, a stacker came through at 9:50 with UP 4525, 5453, 5174 and 5479.  The Jewell Sub. (DMEA?)  train arrived at 10:15 with UP 3591, 3426, 3182 and 3382.  In the distance you can see another eastbound stacker, a K-Line train, waiting to come through Ames.  As soon as the northbound was off of Main 1, the stacker gave a couple of toots on the horn and rolled through town.  The K-Line train was pulled by UP 4986, 2426 and 4652.

I took a few minutes off from the UP traffic to visit Ames' "The Hobby Shop" and picked up a couple of vintage rolling stock kits.  While I was inside a couple of eastbound manifests went by on the mainlines behind the store.  After the hobbyshop visit, I drove back to Nevada and went to the east side where there was a southbound waiting in the  siding.  This manifest had plenty of power, five units, and a very short train.  I waited until 11:20 when a northbound came through behind UP 6883 and 6662.  From the radio, it sounded like there was another coming before the southbound would be moving.

While I waited, a Nevada police officer pulled up behind me and asked for some I.D.  He said they'd had a "complaint" about someone in a red Jeep video-taping trains.  You've got your man!  Actually, the guy was really nice and when I apologized for the trouble, he said "No problem!".  At 11:45 the second northbound showed up, with UP 4554 and 9588.  The meet was completed, and the southbound rolled at 12:10.  Power on the short manifest was UP 6455, 8101, 5609, 6240 and 6562.

By this time I was developing a Maid-Rite hunger and decided to head for Marshalltown.  Along the way, east of State Center at 12:40, I got some images of another eastbound stack train with UP 5204, FURX 7213 and NS 8740.  I followed them to the east along a gravel road and found the train stopped near Lamoille.

I went to Taylor's and then took my sandwich and shake to the east end of the Marshalltown Yard.  The DMDM, which was the train I'd seen trying to get out of Des Moines just before 8:00, was doubling into the yard.  As soon as the power was out of the way, the Marshalltown yard job, with UPY 545 and LLPX 2284, started cutting cars off of the head end.  At 11:20 the stack train I'd seen near State Center came through.  In just a couple of minutes another stacker, a westbound, arrived, pulled by UP 4932, 4696, 9263 and 5371.  After these brief interruptions, I finished my lunch and started back west toward Nevada.

Back in Nevada on the north-south line, I caught a southbound coal empty at 2:30.  Leading the WPSX tub gondolas were UP 7229 and 7269.  After waiting for a while to see if there would be any more traffic, I drove south along the "Spine Line".  The clouds were starting to move in, but it had warmed to 50 degrees by 3:00.  On the radio, I heard the dispatcher arranging a meet at Cambridge, and I found a grain train holding the main there.  I took up a position just under the railroad overpass on Hwy. 210, and at 3:10 the Elkhart detector (MP 89.6) announced the northbound.

I caught the meet at 3:15.  The northbound manifest had UP 3052, 3022, and ex-CNW UP 3042 in the lead.  I hurried south ahead of the grain train and intercepted them in Enterprise at 3:40.  Another ex-CNW unit, UP 6710, led the grainer, followed by UP 6357 and 6173.

That's It!