Late Zephyr

Monday, May 12


It was too nice to stay indoors on Monday, so around 8:30 I headed out and drove east out of  Indianola to make a trip at least "around the block" this morning.  It was 46 degrees and sunny, and Amtrak's Julie said that the California Zephyr was five hours and fortyfour minutes late today.  A southbound train was called at Des Moines, but as I drove toward the Spine Line at Beech, I could tell from the discussion on the radio that it would be some time before they were down this way.  On the BNSF, I heard a westbound, 9801, coming through Maxon at 9:48, and figured I should be able to intercept them.

After arriving in Chariton, I went out to a county road intersection just west of Russell (455 Road) and waited for the westbound.  This grade crossing is near the detector at MP 328.0.  The train appeared at 10:24, a set of empty BN tub gondolas pulled by BNSF 9801 and 9774.  The detector reported the train length at 516 axles.

I chased them to the west and crossed over the train on the Hwy. 34 overpass as it came into Chariton.  As they slowed for the curves in town, I stayed on the highway bypass and hustled down Whitebreast hill, stopping at a wooden bridge overpass west of Lucas.  It has been raining quite a bit lately in Iowa, and there was standing water in the ditches and mud on the ties and rails.  The BNSF is in the middle of a tie-replacement program along Main 2 in this area, resulting in a red signal on the south track.  The empty arrived at 10:44, calling for permission to pass through a Form B just to the west.  The MAC's were running elephant-style this morning, and were undoubtedly DP on their trip east with a load of coal.  After the train passed, I jumped back on 34 and headed for Osceola.

I got to the depot in Osceola about 11:15.  The tie gang, partly BNSF people and partly contractors, was in the process of moving equipment out of the north spur and then east out of town.  At 11:23 I heard an eastbound, 9643, report that it was at Murray and would be holding out of town until the tie gang was in the clear of the crossovers at MP 357.9, and the empty passed.  Then they would cross to Main 1 between Osceola and Shannon, at the bottom of Whitebreast Hill.

9801 came blasting into Osceola and passed the depot at noon.  It was just a few minutes before the waiting load showed up and approached the Main St. crossing.  The gates were coming down as this citizen hesitated (note brakelights) in front of two SD-70's and ten thousand tons of coal.  The engineer checked his mirror as 9643 rolled eastward, slowing the 117 ESCX/PSTX loads as they approached the crossover switches.

Amtrak No. 6 reported its stop in Creston as "13:04 and :07", and came into Osceola at 1:42.  The Zephyr approached the patient passengers (the train was due at 7:59 A.M.) and rolled to a stop at 1:45.  I checked out the lead locos, AMTK 152 and 96, with Leroy Lucas at the throttle today, and then got more shots as the passengers boarded and said goodbye as the train pulled away at 1:48.  In the eastbound Zephyr today:

AMTK 152 and 96
Baggage 1261
Transition Sleeper 39042
Coaches 34087, 30012 and 31535
Sightseer Lounge 33010
Diner 38062
Sleepers 32009 (George M. Pullman) and 32031
Four boxcars and two XpressTrak cars - no Roadrailers
I followed the train east out of town to the fill and approach to the Kansas St. overpass.  Just southeast of here, the train would cross over to Main 1 for the rest of its trip through the Kansas City dispatcher's territory.  After this last look at the passenger train, I headed back north toward Indianola.

That's It!