Assorted March and April Train Spottings

Saturday, April 7 to Marshalltown.


Friday, March 23 - Pleasantville

On the way home Friday evening, I caught the BNSF backing a ballast train to the east out of the Pleasantville siding onto the Des Moines branch.  The cars, all brand new BNSF ones, apparently employ some sort of solar power.  The work train power included BNSF 2229, 2514 and 2846, all ex-Santa Fe units.

Saturday, March 24 - RITS Meet in Cedar Falls

Susan and I drove to Cedar Falls on a rainy Saturday morning for the Rock Island Technical Society's 14th annual meeting in that city.  Parked near the meet, in front of what was once the Rock Island depot, were two 12" to the foot examples of work by Rock Island enthusiasts.  Dan Sabin brought IANR 678, complete with a RI nose herald, and Timm Grimm drove his replica of his grandfather's high-rail work truck, RI 73079.

Saturday, April 7 - Excursion to Marshalltown

Byron and family came over Friday evening and we took care of grandson Blake while Byron and his wife went out for an anniversary dinner.  Byron and Blake stayed over and on Saturday Byron and I got in some train chasing while grandma Susan entertained Blake.

We left around 7:15, with a mostly clear sky, and a stiff north breeze at 19 degrees.  We went to Des Moines first and checked around Short Line, ending up at Hull Avenue to intercept the M-MCDM at 8:15 as it came in on the old Ft. Dodge line.  Leading the freight train were UP 3263, a long-nosed unit, UP 3671 and UP 3305.  We watched them pull into the Hull Ave. yard area and waited on another southbound that we knew was coming.  The second train arrived just before 9:00 and pulled up where we could only see the first couple of units, UP 3036 and 3035.

We headed north on I-35, keeping pace with a northbound that turned out to be the M-DMDM Marshalltown turn.  At Nevada around 10:00, we watched a freight with UP 6404, 7020, 7032 and 5653 leave the siding and head for Chicago Jct.

Traveling east on old Hwy. 30, we found the DMDM standing on Main 2 west of Clear Creek at 10:25.  We went to the grade crossing east of the crossovers and waited, assuming that the DMDM was waiting to get over onto Main 1.  It was 10:45 before westbound light power, UP 6472, 6348 and 7117, came through.  Shortly after they cleared, the DMDM started east, staying on Main 2.  Leading the "DumDum" today were UP 2979, 3072 and 3071.

We drove on over to Marshalltown, got our Maidrites for lunch and parked by the tracks.  While we were eating, a couple of trains came through.  At 11:42 we had a coal load powered by UP 5717 and 8076.  In just five minutes there was a westbound stack train with UP 4732, 5134, 8533 and 7652, the last two in fresh paint.  Interestingly, all the trains today seemed to be running right handed instead of using the old C&NW practice.

At the east end of the Marshalltown yard, the grade crossing has been modified in an attempt to prevent driving around the gates.  Even the sidewalk has had a short maze added to discourage bicyclists from speeding through.

We started back west behind the DMDM, which had apparently crossed over at West Marshall to Main 1, stopping for two eastbounds on either side of Lamoille.  At 12:52 we caught another coal load, CWEX cars with UP 5745 and UP 5898.  At 1:00 we saw a freight with mixed power and a friendly engineer, behind UP 4841, KCS 4009 and BNSF 9629.

Around 1:20 we intercepted the DMDM, a short train eastbound but now with 120 cars, approaching Clear Creek.  Waiting west of the crossovers was a pig train that went over onto the north track after the DMDM cleared.  The intermodal had UP 8476 and 9332 on the point.

We learned from the radio that the DMDM and another southbound would be waiting a Cambridge for a northbound, so we went to the first grade crossing south of the Cambridge siding.  At 2:20 the northbound arrived with UP 2859 and 3382.  The first south bound train, leading the DMDM, had UP 5465, 3596, 9063 and 9028.  At 2:40 the DMDM came up the hill out of the siding, passed us and rolled off to the southwest.

That's It!