Osceola and Chariton

March 17

I was still a bit grumpy about the lousy weather we'd had over spring break when I got a 7:30 a.m. call on Saturday from Dennis Williams.  Dennis, and Paul Speer, a couple of former students, fans and model railroaders, were planning on going to Creston today and wanted to know if I'd care to go along.  It was a gorgeous morning, clear and cool with lots of snow still on the ground from Friday's storm.  Dennis said they would be leaving about 9:00.  I didn't want to miss Amtrak and waste all that good early morning light, so I told him that I'd check on No. 6 and then call him back.  The Amtrak web site showed them just 20 minutes down, so I packed my stuff, threw Lester out with a bowl of Friskies and headed south.

On the way down Hwy. 69 I tried calling Dennis back but got no answer, so I rang Paul up instead and told him that they should meet me at the depot in Osceola.  On the way down I heard a westbound (9529) get a warrant over at Albia at 8:18.  I figured them for Osceola a bit after 9:30.  I got to the depot around 8:45 and found the place jammed - there was no parking anywhere, even in the north lot!  I was surprised to find so many people taking the eastbound this morning.  Pat Green, the depot attendant, said there were 45 boarding today.  Her companion, J.R., had had an accident with the taxi this morning and was at the hospital being checked out.

At  9:23 the detector announced a westbound with 516 axles, which turned out to be a set of OGSX tub gondolas pulled by BNSF 9856 and BNSF 8820.

Just a couple of minutes later you could hear the Zephyr's horns.  They pulled in at 9:30.  Hi Rich!  In the CZ today:

AMTK 802 and 131
Baggage 1264
Transition Sleeper 39003
Sleepers 32053 and 32018
Diner 38056
Sightseer Lounge 33044
Coaches 31537, 34063 and 34005
Material 1548, three boxcars and one Roadrailer
Pat said they had "18 and 7" get off.  Conductor "Doc" Livingston checked inside the depot to see if there were any more sleeping car passengers before they pulled down to take care of the coach fares.  I spotted some kids in the Lounge who wanted their picture taken.  The train pulled down for its second spot at 9:35, just as another coal empty came by on the north track.  The large crowd of coach passengers took a few minutes to board - attendant "Tracy" obliged one bunch by taking their picture before they left.  Eventually they were away, reporting their times at Osceola as ":33 and :40".  I learned later that this morning's engineer turned after his rest and had the ill-fated No. 5 that derailed near Nodaway on Saturday night.  For those who might be interested, I understand that this was the consist:
AMTK 140 and 141
CDTX 4008(Caltrain), deadheading
Material 1517
Baggage 1195
Transition Sleeper 39040
Coaches 34071, 34070 and 31522
Sightseer Lounge 33034
Diner 38034
Sleepers 32096 and 32049
Boxcars 70041, 71149, 70005, and 71198
Roadrailer TripleCrown 466855
Right after No. 6 left, Track Inspector Earl Hamilton set on and followed on Main 2.  I hung out at the depot waiting on Dennis and Paul and wondering if they'd gone to Creston without me.  They'd gotten out of Indianola about 9:00 but had stopped for breakfast, so they didn't show up until after 10:30.  By this time I'd heard about a couple of trains, an eastbound, 9736, that I expected to arrive pretty quickly, and the GALLIN, which was out of Ottumwa at 10:27.  The eastbound finally arrived at 11:10, BNSF 9736 and BN 9667 with DEEX coal loads.

I persuaded Dennis and Paul to go to Chariton instead of Creston and we took off eastbound on Hwy 34.  We started playing the "Shall we go to the next crossing or wait?", game and decided to minimize our risks and stop at the bottom of Whitebreast Hill near the crossovers at Shannon.  We caught two trains there.  Another coal load arrived before the GALLIN at 12:09.  Now we had the railfan "double-track-problem" to worry over:  Would this train "cover" our westbound GALLIN?  This was a distributed power train, OGSX cars with BNSF 9920 on the point.  Paul, who knows about such things, said that this train was headed for the powerplant at Chillicothe.  Aaron, looking over these pictures later at home, said that it looked like Richard Petty was the conductor.  The rear unit on the coal train, BNSF 8894, was by and headed up the hill at 12:11, leaving us just one minute to spare between trains.

The GALLIN roared down the hill and over the crossover switches at Shannon.  Power was BNSF 8014 and BNSF 8608. Shannon is a low floodplain area near Lucas, surrounded by southern Iowa hills.  I figured we could catch the load again in Chariton, since it can take a heavy coal train a good while to climb Whitebreast.  We went into town on Hwy. 14 and took up positions south of the railroad bridge over the highway.  At 12:30 the headend came around the corner and onto the bridge, followed in a couple of minutes by the pusher.

We went and got some lunch and then took up a position by the UP "Spine Line", since we could hear discussion on the radio about a meet at Williamson.  At 1:52 a southbound manifest with UP 9581 and 4285 showed itself north of the old Rock Island depot.  I noticed that the letter bandits have attacked the railroad's station sign.  9581 and 4285 were just by when we heard horns on the BNSF, so we made a quick positioning move to be ready for another coal load.

This train, another distributed power affair, appeared at 2:10 with AEPX gondolas and BNSF 9722.  We were positioned just west of the point where the BNSF goes over the UP and under Hwy 34.  Bringing up the rear of the train was BNSF 9789.

Dennis needed to get back to Indianola by 4:00 for an evening birthday party and we'd left his car in Osceola, so we drove back west but didn't encounter any more trains.

That's It!