Saturday promised to be sunny and warm, with a strong south breeze bringing some much-needed moisture into Iowa. We set out around 8:00 to follow the UP Spine Line north to the east/west mains at Nevada. Our first stop was Short Line Yard, were a switch run, behind UP 1724, was coming around the northwest leg of the wye and heading up the Fort Dodge line toward Hull Avenue Yard.
At Short Line, UP 3026 and GATX 7369, were waiting on the northeast leg go get out of town. At 8:47, a coal load with many different reporting marks (UP, CHTT, CTRN, DRGW, IATR, CNW and WFCX) came south with UP 6679 (E-flat minor horns, says Jan) and UP 8230 on the point.
We'd heard that another train was northbound out of Des Moines just ahead of us, so we got on I-35 and headed north to see if we could catch it. A short distance north of Des Moines, we went east over to a county road and overtook the northbound near Elkhart. We stopped just outside of White Oak at 9:15 for some pictures. On the head end of what I believe was the MDMEA were UP 2989, RG 5413 and UP 5020. In the train was a ROCK covered hopper with a fairly well-preserved paint job.
The 2989 took the siding at Cambridge to meet another southbound coal load.
At Nevada there was plenty of traffic on the mains and through the KC/CHI junction. At 9:50 we saw a freight train with UP 2979 and 3577 turn the corner and wait on a stacker to go east. We missed the stacker but caught the 2979 again in town at 10:00.
A westbound coal empty with a solid set of UP gondolas came through Nevada at 10:13. On the point were UP 8296 and 5033. They were instructed by the dispatcher to pull into yard track 11 and double to 13 when they arrived at Boone. We decided to go on west to Boone and watched the DMEA (2989) train through the junction at 10:30 and then followed it into Ames.
Before getting to Boone, we drove to Jordan and followed the UP lines into town. The 135-car coal empty we'd seen in Nevada had run into a problem in the Boone yard. They'd started down track 11 as instructed, only to find it blocked. After a call to the dispatcher and some discussion on the radio to determine if a switch crew were on duty (in fact, there was one, using CNW 4710 and 4705), they decided to back the train eastward and tie it down on the mainline to await a noon call. Things were piling up on the westbound main behind them, of course. "Alfie", in the Cimmaron van, went out to watch crossings for them as they backed the train.
I stopped to get a picture of the concrete coaling tower, still remaining in the yard at in Boone. In addition to the above CNW units, we saw CNW 4709 and switcher 1310 in the yard. After backing out of the yard, 8296 eventually pulled down behind the new HyVee store and the crew left the train at 11:25.
At 11:30, an eastbound CBPR crossed over and came into the yard behind UP 5961 and fading SP 7521. They had 41 cars, 18 of which were to stay in Boone. We had our picnic lunch at the east end of the CDS parking lot so that we could keep a close eye on the mainlines
After lunch, we went west to catch some more traffic and check out the Kate Shelly high bridge. Our first stop was on Coal Road, near a small mountain of leftovers from Boone's coal-mining days. Here, at 12:13, we intercepted an eastbound intermodal pulled by CNW 8711 and UP 9728.
We went west toward the bridge one road at a time. The next had a well-charred wooden overpass, from which we watched an eastbound merchandise train (EADM) come into town. They came under the bridge at 12:30 with UP 2966, 3377 and CNW 4609 on the point.
At the last crossing east of the High Bridge (L Avenue), we waited to see 8296 one more time. This train was having EOT problems and was delayed getting out of Boone. Finally, at 1:10, they got moving, but apparently without successfully arming the rear end device. 8296 was contacted by the dispatcher and asked to inspect an approaching coal load (8285) that had been run into by a vehicle back down the line.
After passing through the Des Moines River valley and under the High Bridge, we went west until we came up behind the 8296, stopped in Ogden to inspect the eastbound. The inspection revealed only a couple of scratches on CEFX cars, no real damage. Since they had to roll by slowly anyway, 8296's crew asked for help from 8285 in trying to arm the EOT one more time. After a number of attempts, they gave up and both trains moved on. The coal load, with UP 8285 and 8193, was was by us at 1:45.
We turned around and went back to an overpass to catch 2989, on the roll westward again and across the bridge at 1:55.
After reaching the west side of the river valley, we stopped and took some images from a stopping place on the gravel road leading down under the bridge. After we got home Saturday evening I used a computer program to stitch three of them together to form a panoramic view of the Kate Shelly bridge. We stayed in the valley on the south side of the bridge for a half-hour or so in order to get some shots of traffic on the bridge.
At 2:05 we caught another coal load, with UP 6817, 6350 and 8213(?). We would see this train again in about four and one-half hours at Short Line.
At 2:12, a westbound stacker came onto the bridge behind UP 6160, 9350 and 3234, and EMD 7006.
Twenty minutes later, another eastbound, a merchandise train, appeared at the west side of the high bridge and rumbled over toward Boone behind seven units: UP 8300, CNW 8520, UP 5997, 6856, 8071, 6566 and 7106.
A westbound with a number of autoracks was next, pulled by UP 6256 and 623. They were on the bridge at 2:35.
As we worked our way back east into town, we noticed another westbound passing out of our sight behind the lineup waiting to get through the yard. We took a little break and browsed Boone Hobbies. While we were inside the store we heard two more trains pass by.
Once back in the Jeep, we drove in by the yard office just in time (3:37) to catch a westbound stacker coming through. On the head end were CNW 8618 and UP 6174 and 6039. At the east end of the yard, the long string of units we'd seen on the bridge were being run out to the crossovers and rearranged. We drove on east to Jordan, where we met a westbound merchandise train pulled by UP 7521 and 9406. The 9406 carried a sign on the nose honoring an employee for "unwavering commitment to safety".
The next train out of Boone was an eastbound stacker that we saw between Boone and Jordan at 3:52. Power for the train was UP 6355, CNW 8678 and UP 5958.
At this point, we decided to start back homeward. I drove down through Madrid and Grimes, and we stopped at a Bosnian restaurant in Urbandale for supper. The cabbage soup and burek (a baked bread, beef and onion concoction) were excellent!
After supper we drove back to Short Line Junction. An IAIS train was in the yard ready to go west, but had to wait for a southbound UP coal load. This turned out to be the same train, UP 6817, we'd seen on the high bridge earlier in the afternoon. They pulled across the diamond at 6:45. As soon as they cleared, the IAIS train continued its trip behind units 627, 303, 495 and 431.