Marshalltown with Byron

Friday, April 18



Byron and I both had Good Friday off from our teaching duties and planned to meet for a day of train watching along the UP mainline.  The weather did not cooperate and we had a cool and cloudy morning (45 degrees) with rain in the forecast.  We decided to meet in Boone at 8:30, so I left Indianola around 7:20 and headed north on Hwy. 65.  On the east side of Des Moines I saw the rear end of Iowa Interstate's CBBI climbing the hill out of the Des Moines River valley on what was once Rock Island right of way.

I got to the elevators at Jordan, just east of Boone, at 8:15 and just missed an eastbound manifest heading for Ames.  A couple of minutes later I intercepted an eastbound intermodal and stopped to get some pictures as they came by.  On the point were UP 5049, 9808 and 4956.  As I approached the east end of the Boone Yard, Byron called and said he'd meet me there.  There was a coal load led by UP 8197 parked in the yard.  At 8:26 another eastbound came by, this with a mix of automobile racks and stack cars led by UP 9787, 9528, 3988 and 4320.

Byron and I drove to a parking lot just west of the old C&NW depot, arriving just in time to catch a stacker behind UP 4754, 9055, 9109 and 9228.  A westbound (CLNP, I think) was stopped at the new yard office, waiting for a crew called at 8:45.  At 8:52 an empty ballast train blasted by with UP 4818 and 4516.  The train was made up of freshly-painted Herzog cars.

"Fast Freddy" Baffle opened the throttle on the westbound manifest at the yard office at 9:01.  Power here was UP 4153 and 6311.  Another westbound, apparently long pool without a Boone crew change, highballed the yard office and came by us at 9:20.  This was a CWEX coal empty behind UP 6693 and 8218.  We moved to a parking lot north of the yard office for the next train, another coal empty, CIPX/NCUX cars behind UP 7228 and 7331, that pulled up to the yard office at 9:46.  They made a quick crew change and rolled west toward the high bridge in three minutes.

Byron got his gear out of his car and we started out of town to drive toward Marshalltown.  At the east end of the yard we saw the locomotives of the Herzog train being fueled from a tanker truck.  Just before we left Boone we met another westbound, a CWEX empty with UP 6543 and 6597.  As you can see in these shots, the weather was not improving much as the morning passed.

Traffic briefly quieted down a little bit as we passed Ames and started toward Nevada.  From the radio we learned that a PRCB was coming toward the junction, so we went to a grade crossing at the east end of Ames yard and intercepted them at 10:26.  This manifest had UP 3079, 3019 and 3057 on the point.  As we drove through Nevada we saw the gates go down for westbound light power, CNW 403 and UP 3076.  Around 10:45 near Colo we caught up to a stacker we'd seen in Boone and watched them meet a a coal empty with UP 6617 and 7128.  Near Lamoille we overtook another of the eastbounds we'd seen earlier and then met yet another westbound manifest, followed by a stack train, just west of Marshalltown.  It was a busy morning on the UP!

Once in Marshalltown, at 11:10, we got to a grade crossing at the west end of the yard just in time to get pictures of a westbound intermodal train with some interesting power, UP 4051, 9617 (an SP patch) and CSX 9000.  After getting extra shots of the SP and CSX units, we parked on the north side of the mainlines west of the old C&NW depot location.

At 11:35 a stacker with 4754, 9055, 9109 and 9228, that we'd passed on the way over, got into town and came by.  Byron and I repaired to Taylors' Maid Rite for rail fan takeout and returned just in time for another train.  Next up, at 11:55, was a re-run of the Herzog ballast train with 4818 and 4516.  Running ten minutes behind the ballast empty was a coal load with an as-yet-unpatched C&NW unit in the lead.  On the point was C&NW 8810, followed by UP 7354 with a couple of its doors flapping in the breeze.  As the lead and trailing locos passed I noted KGLX, NRLX and C&NW hopper cars in the consist.

The hopper train was barely out of the way when a westbound with WEPX empties popped up.  Eastbounds had been coming through pretty slowly, but this guy, with UP 8020 and 6237, was really moving.  At 12:30 we had a coal load, CWEX tub gondolas behind UP 6534 and 6605.  They came to a stop in front of us and we couldn't see much of a westbound stacker that came by on the south track at 12:38.  We moved to the east end of the yard to catch 6534 once they were on the move again at 12:52.  At the same time, the Oskaloosa train was tying on the EOT and getting ready to leave town.

By now the sprinkles and mist that we'd had most of the morning had turned over to just plain rain.  We turned around and started our trek back toward Boone, stopping first at the overpass near West Marshall to intercept an eastbound stack train pulled by 4864, 5099 and 9479.  As they went under the highway learned on the scanner of another westbound, so we drove to the Hwy. 330 grade crossing to wait for it.  By now it was raining hard enough that I was keeping the camera under my jacket until the last moment.  You'll note some raindrops on the lens in the pictures.

The westbound, a stacker with UP 9830, SP 8652 and UP 4847, got to the highway grade crossing and rolled off into the showers at 1:12.  We heard the Lamoille detector announce an eastbound, so we waited a couple of minutes to catch it at the same place.  This train was a manifest freight, pulled by UP 8306, 4428 and CSX 98(?).  Just to the west we missed a following manifest at about 1:20.

Our next stop was at the crossovers at Clear Creek, where we waited for a westbound automobile train that arrived at 1:42.  I'd not paid very close attention to the picture count and managed to fill the camera's memory card (149 images) as this train passed.  They crossed over from Main 2 to 1 and came to a stop with a few cars still in the crossover, so I reloaded and we tried to intercept them again just east of Nevada.  However, we weren't able to get to the crossing in time for pictures.

We caught a couple of trains before Byron and I headed for our respective homes.  At 2:24 we had a westbound stacker at the east end of the Ames yard, with three units running "elephant style", UP 4990, 4598 and 4142.  Back in Boone just before 3:00, we saw a CWEX coal load led by UP 8122 and 6442.

That's It!