A Trip to Ottumwa

This is an account, in pictures and captions, of a few hours of train-watching on March 18, 1995. This excursion followed the C&NW south from Melcher to Chariton and the BN east from Chariton to Ottumwa. The return trip followed the CP back from Ottumwa to Moravia, and then jumped up to the BN from Albia to Lucas. All the photos were taken with an Apple QuickTake 100 digital camera and converted to GIF format. A few of the pictures in this set have been "enhanced", using the suggested enhancement in PhotoFlash, a program supplied with the Camera.

After following the C&NW Spine Line down from Melcher toward Chariton, we caught just the tail end of a northbound C&NW freight. We stopped to check out the damage to the Russell Boulevard bridge over the C&NW, done by someone driving his Jeep over the edge and down the embankment next to the BN overpass. Heading east on U.S. 34, we turned off into Melrose and, at 10:35, caught a westbound empty coal train headed up by BN 5025, BN 5132, and SF 8138.

We continued east on highway 34 to Ottumwa, and went straight to the Amtrak station. The eastbound California Zephyr, running about an hour late, was pulled by Amtrak engines 831 and 385, and had an observation car on the rear end, Amtrak 10001, "Traincapade". The CZ made a 10 minute stop, 11:40 to 11:50, and hustled on for Chicago.

After Amtrak pulled out, we picked up some baked potatoes to go and set up a picnic near the CP/BN crossing. In a few minutes, BN 2981 and EMD 753 came by westbound with a short train of mixed freight, rattling over the diamond at 12:50. It was met by eastbound train #168, pulled by LMX 8581 and BN 5492. Train 168 was by at 1:03.

After lunch, we made a quick visit to the CP yard where SOO 4426 idled, waiting to help eastbounds up the hill to Rutledge.

We then followed the CP line through the country on gravel roads, heading towards Blakesburg. At 1:30, by a grade crossing just west of Ottumwa (MP 308), we caught a coal train pulled by UP 6069, 9418 and 9417. Between Blakesburg and Moravia, the CP main winds around hills and crosses several long, low steel trestles. Unfortunately, on this trip, we didn't see any more CP trains. (2 photos)

At Moravia we went back north to Albia, and headed out to the east end of the CTC and junction with the C&NW called Maxon. At 2:55, train #65, with BN 6704, 6040, and EMD ??? was just passing the C&NW interchange when we arrived.

Train 65 was followed at 3:04 by an empty grain train pulled by BN 7069 and 8162. At the same time, the C&NW "Syrup Turn" was arriving from Eddyville and the Cargill corn syrup plant behind C&NW 4622 and 4623. (2 photos) The Syrup Turn was met by BN train #491, and the two crews worked together to trade loaded and empty Cargill tank cars. (2 photos)

We paced what remained of #491 after it dropped off its empty Cargill tankers, and watched it go by at Halpin, on the west side of Albia, and at Chariton.