Marshalltown
March 15, 1998


Around 6:30, I heard a crew being put on a northbound at Beech and given orders to pick up 47 grain hoppers at Avon. We'd already planned to go train-watching along the UP today, and I figured we might have a chance at catching this train, which had been given an "after the arrival" warrant so that they would have to wait on a southbound.

We got out of Indianola about 8:15 and drove to Carlisle, where we found a cut of cars with no power sitting in the siding. Just north of Carlisle, we caught up to the northbound. They'd left their train on the mainline, made their pickup, and were trying to get the train back together while we drove through Avon and out onto a deadend gravel road to see if we could get a look at the head end.

Using binoculars, Jan got the numbers off the power (CNW 8635 and SP 8015) just as we met a Carlisle police officer, obviously concerned with the several grade crossings that were blocked. From the radio we learned that they were going to have to walk the train, since the EOT was not responding.

We headed on up the line and made a quick stop in the NS "Glake" yard to get a picture of the only unit around, EMD 741. The NS administrates this property, but it is operated by BNSF.

We drove on up to Short Line Yard and found it pretty quiet this Sunday morning, too. Near the fuel rack were CNW 4148, 4710 and UP 2312. It looked like a train was ready to leave with UP 3046 and 3647 on it, but as yet it had no crew aboard. We'd heard no warrants given on the radio, so we got on I-35 and hurried north toward Nevada and the UP E/W mains.

We intercepted our first moving train of the day in Nevada at 9:52. It was an eastbound stacker with CNW 8501, RG 5503 and CNW 8519 in charge. They slowed considerably coming through town and we were able to get ahead of them later as we drove over to Marshalltown.

Before we left Nevada, we drove down to the new siding at the east edge of town. There, an empty southbound coal train was parked with UP 6887, CNW 8806 and UP 6796 idling away.

At Colo, we caught up to the stacker we'd seen in Nevada just as they met a westbound manifest with UP 9500 and SP 8502. This pairing of a UP lead and SP second unit was pretty familiar by the end of the day. We saw five trains set up that way.

Just east of Colo we drove up a short gravel road to meet another westbound. This was a container train with three units, UP 6332, 6088 and 6057.

I stopped at the State Center overpass to get another shot of the stacker as it arrived - still moving pretty slowly. Perhaps they were given a low speed limit by the "verification desk"? The road across from Nevada to Marshalltown had been cleared of snow from last weekend's blizzard, but at the tops of many of the hills, it was evident from the tunnel-like appearance that the road had recently been drifted higher than the top of our vehicle.

As we neared Marshalltown, we spotted a coal load waiting to go through West Marshall, so we stopped near an overpass and waited for it. This train had UP 8032 and 7073 pulling CWEX gons, and came by us at 10:40. They'd just gone under the overpass when a westbound manifest accelerated out from under it with UP 5965 and 9217 on the head end. Since the UP continues to run normally left-handed (CNW practice) in Iowa, we were able to see both trains from our position on the south side of the tracks.

In Marshalltown, at 10:50, we encountered a westbound manifest behind CNW 6935 and UP 3488 preparing to leave the yard. There was discussion about whether the crew had enough time left to make it even to Nevada, but the dispatcher was sure they'd get there. We were to find this train tied down on the westbound at the east end of Nevada on our way home in the afternoon.

After arriving in Marshalltown, we took a few minutes to drive around under the viaducts to see what was in the yard. Spreader 11991 was parked near the engine service area. Just south of the turntable we found assorted dead CNW power - CNW 954, 4165 and 4142. Around on the east side of the engine shop (soon to be reactivated by Transglobal) were CNW 4189, 4553 and 6639.

At the east end of the yard, switching duties were being performed by CNW 4634 and 1314.

We drove around to the north side of the yard and pulled in by the old Marshalltown depot just after eleven o'clock. Light power, UP 8179 and 8171, rolled by westbound and was met by the eastbound stacker we'd seen at Nevada just before 10:00.

Twenty minutes behind on the eastbound was a manifest with UP 6202 and 5948 on the point. After we got a picture of it, we went to Taylor's Maid-Rite for some take-out lunch. Back by the viaduct, the next train arrived at 11:43. It was another eastbound stacker, pulled by UP 6283, 6193 and 3144. This train stopped and dropped off the 3144 on one of the north yard tracks.

After lunch we went back to the east end of the yard, just missing another eastbound intermodal, with CNW 8701 and UP 8450, at 11:58. This train was run around the 6283 on the westbound (south) main.

I walked down the tracks to the east a short distance to get a look at a crane, CNW 262071, and some of the gray and red MSTL cars parked with it. A "home-made" CNW transfer caboose, X261503, accompanied the crane.

At 12:15, UP 6238 and 6138, sans 3144, headed east out of the yard.

. Before going back to the west along the UP mains, we stopped to check out a ballast cleaner, CNW 2001, with an interesting graphic on the cab. The machine was parked near the old M and St. L. freight building. We also dropped by a park to get a shot of captive CNW caboose 10957.

Back in Nevada, we found UP 6935 (above) and its train tied down on the westbound main. The dispatcher'd been right - they did have enough time to make Nevada.

We drove on over toward Boone, turning north to the elevator at Jordan. The UP's parking lot extended out to the east from the Boone yard. Just east of Jordan, westbound UP 9500 and SP 6802 were tied down with a manifest. We'd spotted this train around 10:00 in the morning at Colo - it was now 1:50 in the afternoon. West of Jordan, another westbound manifest was parked with UP 2981 and SP 8383 on the point.

Just as we arrived at the east end of the Boone yard, light power, CNW 6823, UP 3023 and UP 6878 headed eastward out of the yard.

Crews were changing on two coal loads at the "hard road" crossing at the east end of the yard. On the westbound main sat UP 6618 and SP 187 with WPSX cars, and on the eastbound were CNW 8636 and SP 318 with NSPX cars. Switching the east end of the yard were CNW 4604 and 1709.

At 2:40, an eastbound manifest left the yard behind UP 9542, 3137 and 6119. At 3:00, a (north)westbound Des Moines train showed up with UP 3046 and 3647.

We decided to head toward home and drove back over to the junction between the E/W mains and the Spine Line near Nevada. The coal load behind UP 6618 that we'd seen leave Boone was waiting on the "Nevada Sub" to go north after a southbound train arrived. We waited for a while, but finally gave up on the southbound and drove on down to Des Moines.

We caught a glimpse of an IAIS westbound from the new highway 65 cutoff and followed it down to the woods at University Avenue where they stopped to await switching in Short Line Yard. This train had IAIS units 604, 468, 626 and (still in orange and white) 481.

At the east end of Short Line, we saw the switching move that the IAIS was waiting on - a long cut of cars being shoved down the main by CNW 1316 and RG 3084. The IAIS train was eventually sent through the yard on track three.

That's It!