Mothers' Day - Around the Block
May 10, 1998


We had a great Mother's Day weekend with all the family around. By mid-afternoon Sunday, everyone was back on the road again. Jan and I took a little break, had an early supper and then left to go "around the block", figuring on at least catching No. 5 at Osceola.

I'd picked up a 2-meter magnet-mount antenna at a local Radio Shack, cut it down a few inches in an attempt to tune it to the RR band, and was anxious to give it a try. We drove east out of Indianola, heading for the UP Spine line at Beech. There was a train in the siding, apparently tied down, since the grade crossing had been cut. We did hear a train start south out of Des Moines around 6:00. They were given a warrant all the way to Allerton, so we figured that we would not see much traffic on the Spine line tonight.

As we passed Williamson, we heard a discussion between two BNSF trains that indicated they were coming up Whitebreast hill. When the trains are "fleeted" as BNSF does with the coal loads out of Creston, the trains talk to one another about how they're doing on the hills, so that following trains can pace themselves and start into the grade at a good speed.

We went out to the east end of Chariton and caught the first eastbound at 6:33. This train had BN 9584 and 9655 on the point and was made up of BN coal gons. We drove on into town and got to the Braden Ave. crossing just in time for the following load at 6:45. These were new (1-98) JE hoppers behind BN 7821, 5039 and 5052.

We'd heard a westbound get a warrant at Albia around 6:15, so we decided to just wait for him to arrive. Two other westbounds were now getting warrants, but we figured they would probably have to wait at Halpin for Amtrak. The BN clears the tracks about an hour before the CZ is to arrive.

Our westbound showed up in Chariton at 7:20. This train, with BN 5527 and 5140 in charge, had picked up fuel tanks at Maxon to take to Lincoln, and had these cars cut in ahead of their aging CEPX gons.

We continued our trip "around the block" by heading west toward Osceola on Highway 34. A few miles east of Osceola, we heard the detector go off for the south track, so we knew that there was another eastbound coming. I took the next gravel road south and hurried right along. The two mains are separated in this area (near Woodburn), and as we crossed the westbound main, we could see 5527 grinding upgrade in the distance.

The eastbound main passed over our road, and we got to it just in time to get a couple of pictures of BN 9514 and 9498 with a load of DEEX gons. at 7:48. A friendly engineer gave a couple of toots as they rolled by. We turned around and drove back toward the highway, but had to wait quite a while at the westbound grade crossing on the 5527.

Once back on the highway, we got ahead of the westbound again, and I stopped at the overpass to take another picture of 5527 and the train of fuel tankers and empty coal gons. Just as I got back to the Jeep, another eastbound came out of Osceola and headed toward us. This train, another coal load of new-looking MARX hoppers with BN 9706 and 9574, got to the highway overpass at 8:04.

We pulled in and parked by the depot in Osceola. J.R.'s bulletin board showed No. 5 to be on time, but we knew that wasn't the case from the radio. We went to the Dairy Queen and brought back some sundaes to eat while we waited at the depot. At about 9:15, an eastbound manifest sort of snuck up on us and roared by the depot. On the point were pumpkin BNSF 6857 and BN 7928. By this time, it was too dark for QuickTake camera pictures, but I decided to keep trying them, using the lights that had been put up to illuminate the new platform.

The above eastbound went into emergency at MP 350, with what turned out to be an air hose problem between the ninth and tenth cars. This delayed Amtrak briefly while they checked to make sure they weren't derailed and blocking the westbound or something.

Amtrak got to the depot just before 10:00, a little over a half hour down. On the point were AMTK 15, 88 and 512. They reported their stop as 9:53 to 9:56. In the train tonight:

Baggage 1719
Material 1264
Transition Sleeper 39005
Sleepers 32066, 32039, 32017
Diner 38037
Sightseer Lounge 33002
Coaches 31514 (smoking), 34042, 34073
Box 71132
Material 1523
We knew that another eastbound had stopped west of Osceola - first because of the train in emergency ahead, and then to wait on the Amtrak passengers to get back to the south side of the mains. This turned out to be intermodal train 60, with BN 7135, 4098, 6918 and SF 3175. I'd not been out along the BNSF late enough to see pigs and containers since 65 disappeared from the usual lineup.

The two trains that had waited on Amtrak at Halpin were just behind, so we saw two more westbound empties in rapid succession. At 10:09, IMRL 214, BN 7230 and 9405 came through with BN and MPWX hoppers. At 10:30 they were followed by BN 7825 and EMD 6064 with CWEX cars. Right afterward, another eastbound load, of AEPX hoppers appeared behind BN 5554, 5120 and 5272. After this train we decided to head back north to Indianola. On the way, we heard that the last eastbound struck a cow at MP 353.3.

The new antenna? Worked great! While sitting at Osceola, we could easily copy the warrants at both Creston and Albia - 30 miles to the west and 60 to the east.

That's It!