After a week of clouds and drizzle, we finally had a bright, sunny morning, so Jan and I went to see how our friends on the BNSF were doing. We'd heard the "steel gang" leave Osceola on the westbound and also learned that a ribbon rail train out of Chariton would be blocking the same track east of Russell. It sounded like there'd be some fleeting of the coal and freight today.
We drove first to Osceola to see how Amtrak was doing today. The board inside the station showed them to be on time, so we waited with the passengers for the CZ to arrive. In today's train:
We'd come into town from the east on highway 34, and had seen a coal empty waiting on Amtrak to cross over and take the eastbound main around the steel gang. After a short wait, they came through with BNSF 9853 and MRL 7556 (apparently ex-SF).
After the trains were out of the way, the "smooth-em-up" gang (as the Roadmaster calls them) brought their equipment out and ran east to work just over a county road underpass at milepost 358.
After a short discussion of locations, we decided to try to make it to the crossover at Russell ahead of the next westbound train. As it turned out, we had plenty of time. Between the CTC at Halpin and Russell, trains were using only the eastbound main today. At the Fryer Street crossing at the west edge of Russell, a young man was serving as a switch tender today. He already had the crossover lined to take a westbound back over to the proper track when we arrived.
At 11:18, a coal empty arrived with BNSF 9786 and 9854 on the point. The first 20 cars of the train were fuel tanks headed for Lincoln. These fuel loads are originating in Des Moines, at the Williams pipeline terminal and come to Albia to be picked up and taken to the west. The remainder of the train was a mixture of BNSF coal hoppers in brown and green paint schemes.
Running fairly close behind was another empty, this one of UCEX hoppers. They arrived at the crossovers at Noon, with BNSF 9849 and BN 9583. We were certainly seeing lots of SD-70MACs in the Heritage II scheme today!
We knew that some eastbounds would have to be getting over near us by now. I drove back along Russell Boulevard toward Chariton, keeping in sight of the tracks, and then went out to the west side of Chariton to the Curtis Ave. crossing. There, at Noon, we encountered a load with AEPX gons behind BN 7253, 5546 and 5115. From the dispatcher, they learned that they would have to wait on another westbound, so they indicated that they would stop in the clear east of Chariton. We got some sandwiches and drove back out east of town to the Blue Grass Road crossing.
It was a little after 1:00 before the next westbound was through the crossover at Russell and the 7253 started pulling again. For some reason, someone had tied a red flag on the front of the loco. In a short time, the westbound appeared. It was a manifest with BN 6356, cabless BN 4038 and BN 5076. They crossed Blue Grass Road at 1:11. The next eastbound followed in five minutes, a coal load of AEPX gons behind BNSF 9857 and BN 9698.
Assuming that we'd not yet seen the whole fleet of eastbounds, we drove alongside the tracks back toward Chariton. Just at the east edge of town, where the BNSF mains cross above the UP Spine Line, we intercepted another coal load at 1:25. This train had BN 9448 and 9697 in charge and consisted of HLMX, UNSX and KCP cars.
After a short break in town, we drove back out to the crossover at Russell to meet the next westbound. This train arrived at 2:50 with BNSF 9795 and BN 9562 pulling the empty JE hoppers through the crossover and onto the westbound main.
We decided to start working our way back toward home, and went back into Chariton. We watched the 9795 go by one more time and then waited for one more train, a westbound grain empty that came through Chariton at 3:45 with BNSF 6760 (cheap repaint) and BN 8027 on the head end.