April 29 and May 1

Thursday, April 29

Thursday afternoon we made a quick trip to Des Moines, on an errand for one of our Bosnian friends, and, naturally stopped by Short Line Yard as well. We knew that a westbound IAIS train was at the yard and that a meet was planned with the eastbound.

The first train to arrive was job 63, coming down across Dean Avenue and around the northeast leg into the yard at 1:30. On the point was CNW Geep 4613.

The IAIS westbound got kicked out of the yard, since there were no open tracks for a meet with the eastbound there. As they edged slowly out of the west end of the yard, the UP brought three units out the southeast leg and then north to turn them for an outbound train. Leading northbound was UP 3970, followed by 4965 and 1682.

As soon as the UP units were out of the way, IAIS 408, 413 and 628 came west with their mixed train. There followed quite a bit of heated discussion on the radio about the meet with the eastbound train, "...the NS main is out of service!" "Well, that's great John! We left the UP already." A decision was made to "head into the connection", and they proceeded toward downtown Des Moines. We waited for some time for the meet to be accomplished so that we could see the eastbound, but there apparently was a little too much of one or both trains, and we finally gave up and went back to Indianola.

Saturday, May 1

A month or so ago, I was contacted by Bill Dolezal and George Davison about doing a presentation to a Boy Scout "camporee" on railfan photography and the Internet, and agreed to do so. This was to be an all-day affair at Boone, in the fairgrounds just north of the UP yard. Some of the scouts were to be working on a Railroading merit badge, and it turned out that it was the responsibility of our "station" to indoctrinate the youngsters with some information about unit trains. I admit to some misgivings once I learned that the scouts' agenda and mine might not be exactly the same, but I stayed aboard.

Bill brought along an excellently-prepared PowerPoint presentation, and I tried to jump in here and there, illustrating the dumping of a coal gon and the loading of a well-car with HO models I'd brought along. We never actually got to my diagram and demonstration of the workings of a SLR camera, but, whatever... Let me just say that the day pretty much fulfilled my expectations.

Jan took up station in the Jeep at the south end of the fairgrounds, a position that gave her an excellent view of the abundant traffic on the UP mains. Here's her morning log:

Yard Job - 1316 and 4706
8:32 WB Stacker - UP 7539, 3167, 9218 (reported trespassers on the high bridge - police notified)
8:40 EB Autoracks - 9552, 4831
9:33 EB Mostly Grain - UP 3023, CNW 5527
9:45 WB Coal empty - UP 6705, 6777
10:27 EB Stacker - UP 6191, 9539, 4053
11:00 WB Stacker - UP, UP, MPI, UP
11:12 WB Stacker - ?
11:33 WB Manifest - CNW 6896, CNW 55??
We got a lunch break from 11:30 to 1:30, so I had a chance to get trackside for a couple of trains. At 12:15, an eastbound manifest crossed over and pulled into the yard with CNW 8569, CR 5013 (seriously smoking GE - reminded me of our old Rock Island train watching days), SSW 8045 CR 3288 and CR 5040. In a few minutes, two trains started calling the yard looking for their outbound crews. The first to arrive was a coal load, mostly CWEX, behind UP 6795 and SP 303. They were met by an 8000-foot auto train pulled by CNW 8603 and UP 3645. Both stopped about 1:00.

It was time for me to get back to the unit train exposition, with a fresh crowd of boys arriving on 30-minute headway all afternoon. Jan resumed her train-watching:

1:15 EB NSPX loads - UP 6587, 8009
1:40 WB Stacker - UP 9481, 6170, 5914, 3188
1:50 EB COMX loads - UP 6699 6736
2:25 WB EDGX empties - 6863, 8113
2:50 EB Intermodal - UP 6190, 6287
3:22 WB Stacker - UP 7527, 9733, 9541
At 3:30 I excused myself from the merit badge mania for a minute and checked on Jan. I was eyeballed suspiciously by one of the raptors on display outside our building as walked to the Jeep. On the way out, I saw an eastbound arrive, with UP 3107 and CNW 6819. Jan had obviously been having pretty good train-watching. I decided it might be a good time to fade away, so I went back and picked up my stuff, thanked Bill and we headed toward home.

Just east of Jordan, we waited for one more train to come by. This was a westbound, with UP 7085, SP 260 and UP 8027, and the junkiest collection of hoppers the UP could find - all sorts of reporting marks, UP, CHTT, CNW, BN DRGW, MP, etc. Like the eastbound we'd seen earlier, this train was producing quite a bit of soot.

That's It!