Byron and Tammy had come over on Friday evening so we could have Easter Sunday Dinner (early) with my mom and the rest of the family. They stayed over and the three of us headed out on Saturday morning with Marshalltown (and a Maid-Rite lunch, of course) as our general objective. We had a rather foggy morning, but with a forecast of a clear and warm day. We drove through Carlisle and then up into Des Moines to see if there were any action at Short Line. Things were pretty quiet, so we went on north and over to Nevada for our first "catch" of the day.
At 9:37 we saw a short manifest come through Nevada with CNW 6871 and UP 4106 on the point. They were headed around the wyes at KC and Chicago Junction to go south to Des Moines. We drove on over to State Center while keeping track of the location of a couple of trains by listening in to radio traffic on the scanner. We found a nice spot on the south side of the mains to hang out and wait for two trains. An westbound manifest came through at 10:28, with UP 4150, UP 4316 and an interesting old unit, OSS 1010.
The next train was a CWEX coal load which came into town at 10:49 behind UP 8107 and SP 235. We paced this train for the ten miles over to Marshalltown, where they were held west of West Marshall until nearly 11:30.
At Marshalltown, an Eddyville train was getting things together and pulling east out of the yard. They had four GP's, UP 395, 478, 375 and 447. They were getting their EOT device set up at 11:30 as the coal load we'd seen in State Center came by. The load was followed about 15 minutes later by an empy automobile train. This was led by UP 4572 and 4115. Remember when seeing "Wings" was a big deal? Now they seem to be on almost every train. The "Z-stripe" is now pretty commonplace, too. 4572's horns sounded much like an Amtrak unit.
Our next train, still at the east end of the M'town yard, was a westbound stacker. It came through at 12:05 with UP 9529, 4814 and 5680. 4814 appeared to be in fairly fresh UP paint - will they "wing" any of the narrow noses?
We moved around by the old depot where the Cimmaron folks were working on a taillight. The next train, at 12:44, was the MCBPR. They came in running right-handed in order to work in the yard, with 21 to set out and 68 to pick up at Marshalltown. On the point were UP 3029, 3447 and 3795. They started pulling out at 1:08 and were passed by a stacker with UP 7525, 9929 and 9502. We had three trains on the grade crossing for a while because a yard job with UP 670 and CNW 4707 was working the east end of the yard at the same time.
I drove around to the south side of the yard to check out the progress on the new yard office. UP personnel will move out of the old depot and into this structure soon. We found UP 1649 parked at the engine service area and nothing new at Transglobal. While we were away from the mains we missed an eastbound stacker that came by at 1:34. The next train through, running right-handed around the CBPR, was a westbound stacker behind UP 4309, 4277, 9254 and 3521. We caught them near the viaduct west of the depot at 1:55.
We stayed here for another intermodal, this time the eastbound, "Super Chicken", as it was called on the radio. This train was behind UP 4133, 3513 and 6249, and passed us at 2:19. While we were on "break" we missed one each way; a CWEX load at 2:40 and an empty 10 minutes later.
At the far west end of the yard we intercepted an eastbound at 2:52, a stacker with a few automobile cars thrown in. On the point were UP 4560, UP 9676, CSX 7698 and UP 9724. Take a close look at the cab of 9724. What causes those dark stripes in the paint? This train had an interesting container, labeled "K Line Power Pak", that appeared to be a generator of some sort. I drove to the east end of the yard to catch it going by.
We settled in at the east end and watched things really roll for the next few minutes:
3:01 - WB Manifest, CNW 8829, UP
3:16 - EB Manifest, UP 5990, UP 3297
3:19 - WB GEAX, UP 6510 (note cab stripes), SP 201, BNSF 139
3:34 - WB Autos, UP 6289, UP 1953
3:39 - EB Grain, UP 3018, UP 5991
Yawn... I don't know about this "fish in a barrel" train-watching. The UP makes it a bit too easy - it was time to move on. We drove down to Newton to see if we could locate the Art Train. No luck there. It looked like the yard crew had just tied up their power, IAIS 626 and 466, andwere heading home.
We traveled on, arriving back at Short Line Junction at 5:20, just in time to see a grain empty crossing the IAIS and heading north across Dean Avenue. In the lead, UP 5701 and UP 5767. The latter looked very fresh except for a little mess of some kind on the fuel tank.
We visited company property and stopped for another shot of our first locos of the day, UP 4106 and CNW 6871. I also took a picture of an interesting snow plow. Back at the junction, we watched the MDMSS (a relatively new symbol) leave the yard. Power for the St. Paul train; UP 3046, CNW 6877 and UPY 652. There was some discussion on the radio about the UPY unit's presence in the train, but it was decided to, "just go with it". They were around the northeast leg and onto the Spine Line at 5:38.
About this time we heard a northbound leaving Beech and figured that we could intercept it on the way home, so we went out toward Pleasant Hill and got on the bypass. Our train, the MKSDM, reached the crossing at the south end of Avon at 6:00. Interestingly, it had BN power - two of the SD-60M's, BN 9267 and 9254. At this stop we witnessed a near-miss at the grade crossing. The crossing lights (no gates) were blinking continously here, with no train around.
A young man had stopped on the east side of the tracks, stalled his car and could not get it restarted. An older man arrived to help and parked behind him. They got the car started and, as the manifest approached, the youngster drove on across the tracks. He had plenty of time, but the guy behind, apparently assuming the crossing lights were still just stuck, followed him with very little room to spare. There was plenty of horn from 9267 and a heavy brake application. We called the 800 number and reported the problem with the crossing signals to the UP. On the way to Indianola we heard the signal maintainer called out.