"Good Monday"

Simpson's Easter Break

Monday, April 12



Simpson College had the Monday after Easter off this year.  The forecast was pretty good and the California Zephyr was on time!  I headed for Osceola around 7:15.  The sky was clear and the thermometer showed 36 degrees this morning.  On the radio as I drove south, I heard the passenger train arriving in Creston at 7:25.  I was in New Virginia at 7:34 when the Osceola detector (probably a westbound) and the KC line dispatcher (probably talking to Amtrak) broadcast at the same time.

At 7:41, just before I got to the depot, I heard a westbound (BNSF 8850) getting a warrant at Albia.  Shortly, the detector came on to announce a westbound with 254 axles.  This train, a manifest with BNSF 4795, EMD 9074 and BNSF (ex-SF) 6715, came through at 7:55.

The Zephyr, with Jack Kruger at the throttle, had called in to say they were crossing the Interstate.  The passenger train appeared at 8:00 and pulled to a single spot at 8:02.  In the consist today:

AMTK 186 and 61
Baggage 1163
Transition Sleeper 39011
Sleepers 32021 and 32055
Diner 38021
Sightseer Lounge 33001
Coaches 31520, 34072 and 34054
Three boxcars
Passengers were detrained and boarded, and they reported out on time at 8:06.  The detector counted 56 axles today.

In a very short time after the CZ departed, the Osceola detector announced another westbound, this time with 488 axles.  This turned out to be a coal empty, BNSF 9964 and 5713 trailing FSTX tub gons.  At 8:20, track inspector Earl Hamilton got a warrant from MP 360 and put his high-railer on Main 2 to follow the passenger train toward Chariton.  On the radio, I heard 9818 East leave Creston at 9:00.  Another westbound came through Osceola at 9:07.  This was the train I'd heard get a warrant from the KC desk earlier, BNSF 8850 and 8830 with 130 cars, most of them brand new (Feb. '04) COEH gondolas.

I made a quick pit stop for more coffee and drove out west of Osceola to old Hwy. 34 to wait on 9818 and whatever other westbound traffic there might be.  I could hear discussion of a Form B to the west.  The dispatcher told Signal Maintainer McKinley that after the 9818 they would have "at least four hours" to work on Main 2 without another train, and that after that they could probably take eastbounds out of Creston on Main 1.

My eastbounder, fifth train so far this morning, showed at 9:42.  This was BNSF 9818, that I'd heard report out of Creston at 9:00.  9818 was followed elephant-style by BN 9562, and a set of 109 loaded WCSX hoppers.  They slowed as they rounded the corner and headed into town.  Since they were only warranted to MP 360, they stopped at the "truck stop" crossing in Osceola to wait for another warrant.  I heard them get moving again at 10:00.

I headed out on Hwy. 34 and drove on east to Chariton.  On the way into town I heard the Russell detector call 516 axles on Main 1.  I hurried to the Curtis Ave. crossing at the west end of the Chariton yard and caught this one at 10:22.   Train number 6 this morning was a set of older, relettered EXEX box gondolas pulled by BNSF 9743 and 9621.  Just after this train passed I heard another (9643 West) getting a warrant at Albia.

I moved to a location east of the depot where trains come through Chariton's "ess" curve and waited for 9818 to come up Whitebreast Hill.  That train arrived, 9818 and 9562 (note the "2" on this side of the loco) and headed through the curves at 10:50.  The Russell detector let me know that another westbound, with 528 axles was nearby, and this one showed at 11:08.  Patched BNSF 9643 led, with new-looking BNSF 5688 and OVEX (formerly marked AEPX) cars.  Track Inspector Hamilton got a warrant and followed this train west out of town.

At this point it looked like I'd be facing the lunchtime lull on the BNSF, so I decided to have a look at the UP's "Spine" line.  I drove up to Williamson and found a short manifest in the siding.  On the point were two UP "flag" units, 4888 and 5078.  I then decided to drive back to Osceola, get some lunch and just keep an ear on the scanner.  I'd heard the dispatcher say that taking trains on Main 1 out of Creston might start after the 9643 got there.  In round numbers that meant nothing out eastbound until about 1:00.  As I came by the base of Whitebreast Hill around 12:15, a high-rail gravel truck with a clamshell crane was getting off of Main 2 and heading back into Chariton for more rock.

After lunch in Osceola I decided to go out near the Form B work to wait on traffic.  I settled on an old bridge between Thayer and Murray, near MP 373.  By 1:45 trains were starting to move again, running left-handed out of Creston on Main 1.  The first out was 9913, followed at 2:00 by 9989.  9913's crew called on the Form B and strenuously objected to Foreman Newton about the possibility of having to stop their train at the bottom of a hill.  The foreman apologized for, "spoiling your day", and got them through the limits without delay.

At 2:28 they came into sight.  This was another set of COEH cars with distributed power, BNSF 9913 on the point and BNSF 9744 at the rear. The detector near Talmage Hill had reported this train at 524 axles.  I decided to head back east again so I paced the train up the hill into Murray and then jumped onto Hwy. 34.  I drove over to Shannon where a switch tender was waiting to route the eastbound coal loads over onto Main 2 for their climb up into Chariton.

While I waited for 9913 to catch up to me, I heard the Osceola detector count 532 axles on Main 1, undoubtedly the second load, 9989, that I'd heard leave Creston at 2:00.  At 3:20, after having some problems reaching the switch tender on the radio, 9913 moved forward to the crossovers and came over onto Main 2.  The heavy coal load was already starting to drag down on the hill by the time the rear unit passed me.

At 3:50 the next train got to Shannon and pulled up to the crossovers beside some track equipment waiting on Main 2.  This set of AEPX cars had BNSF 9989 on the front and 8983 on the rear.  At 4:00 I could hear the dispatcher talking to the next train, 9872, which was not to arrive at Shannon for another 40 minutes.  I decided not to wait that long and headed up Hwy 65 toward home.


Extra Section - A Few Stops at Beech

March 27, 5:20 p.m.
Southbound manifest at S-31 grade crossing, UP 7325 and 7333.

April 3, 1:30 p.m.
Southbound Herzog empty, NS 2540 and UP 4495.

April 5, 5:00 p.m.
I heard this one getting a warrant out of Williamson and went to my favorite (now closed) bridge to wait for it.  The train registered 444 axles on the Melcher detector and arrived at 5:15.  Power on the manifest was UP 4122 and 4509.  I watched the train go under my position on the bridge.  They had a set of new-looking tank cars in their consist.

April 7, 6:00 a.m.
Two CP units, 5754 leading, on a southbound manifest at S-31.

That's It!