Des Moines Doings

Saturday, May 1



I headed for Des Moines on Saturday morning to see what I might find around Short Line on this cool, sunny morning.  I went through Carlisle and found nothing in the siding, but did hear a meet between the "auto train" and a northbound being accomplished down the line at Beech.  On the BNSF radio at 8:00, the M-WQMDMO (a.k.a. "447") answered a call from the NS Glake Yard, saying that they were just coming through Pleasantville and would be in Des Moines in "an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes".

I turned off the Hwy. 65 bypass onto Vandalia Road and went south to have a look at the NS yard.  NS 5124 was just coming out of the yard and around the tight curve to the north to switch the diesel fuel tank cars at Magellan Pipeline.  I went back to Vandalia, stopping to get another shot of the NS power, and then headed over on up to the UP yard.  In the previous picture you'll note that the engineer looks forward down the long hood of his GP-38.  The image also shows the new gas-fired electric plant under construction south of the pipeline terminal.

At Short Line some road power, UP 4294 and NS 9128, operating as "Job 1", was switching a train together using the IAIS mainline west of the diamonds.  Down on Market Street by the NS/UP diamond, I found a family of geese out for a stroll this morning.

Things were pretty quiet so far at Short Line.  I expected the northbound out of Beech to show up after a while, but decided to head out Vandalia again and try to intercept 447 on its way into Des Moines.  When I got to the grade crossing south of Pleasant Hill, there was a long line of traffic already waiting for the train to clear, two Pleasant Hill police cruisers among them.  It was only 8:50, and the crew switching the fuel tanks expressed some surprise, having expected to have their work done and be in the clear well ahead of the arrival of the West Quincy train.

NS 5124's work was time consuming, with each tank car having to be individually spotted at the fuel depot.  Shortly after 9:00, 5124 was ready to shove the fuel loads back into the yard and both trains moved south down the line connecting the old Wabash and CB&Q right of ways.  NS 5124 hustled the fuel into the yard.  The daily manifest from West Quincy wasn't far behind and crossed the road at 9:10 with BNSF 120, BNSF 7148 and BNSF 2778.  I waited while the MWQMDMO rolled into the yard and then went back northwest toward Short Line.

At Maury Street I found the northbound that I had figured was in the vicinity stopped south of the "BN" diamond.  It appeared that the inbound crew was in the process of tying down this empty grain train while waiting for a van to arrive.  I drove up to the Short Line Jct. diamond to wait on them and whatever other traffic might come through.  Job 1 had moved over from the road locos and was switching the west end of the yard with UP 1194 and 907.

Just before 10:00 the grain empty started toward the junction.  UP 8102 and 7122 came across Market St. and the IAIS diamond, and headed north across Dean Avenue.  I stayed parked by the junction and read the paper while some woman in a compact car drove in, carefully read my license plate (you could see her lips moving as she spelled it out to herself) turned around and drove away.  Terrorist spotter?  Whatever.  At 10:30 a crew boarded the power I'd seen switching earlier.

This train, with UP 4294 and NS 9128, came out of the yard and around the southeast leg of the wye just before 11:00.  I caught them coming onto the "Spine" line and crossing Market Street before heading over to East 30th, back across Vandalia, onto the Hwy. 65 bypass and east into Carlisle.  I took up a position near the south siding switch at Carlisle and waited for the train to come by.

At 11:20 they came out of the trees, around the corner on the mainline, passed the siding signals and headed uphill across the Middle River bridge.  I turned around and took Hwy. 5 beside the train, passing them before they hit the detector at MP 61.6.  I stopped again east of the new bridge over the highway and caught the train crossing over the four lane at 11:30.  The female-voiced detector reported the train at 396 axles.

I got back on 5 and drove east to the intersection of the newly paved S-31 where I turned south and headed for Beech.  I caught the train again as they reached the grade crossing with S-31 northwest of town at 11:43.  I was in position on Hwy. 92 for one more image as they crossed the bridge over the highway just south of Beech at 11:50.  After this last intercept, I drove on over to Susan's acreage and had lunch.

That's It!