Marshalltown with Mike Endres

Thursday, May 16

Mike Endres, well-known CNW fanatic in the central Iowa area, and I had agreed to meet for some train chasing on Thursday.  Mike is just a few courses from finishing a transportation major at Iowa State and plans to be in town for the summer.  He came over first thing in the morning Thursday.  We had a rainy day and no particular destination in mind, so I just headed for Short Line yard first.

We found one of UP's flag units, 4903, parked by the sand tower, along with UP 2972 , CNW 6819, UP 1073 and UPY 1324.  One thing of interest to me that Mike had pointed out was that a new signal has been erected at the west end of the yard.  One thing of interest to Mike was the CNW unit - he mentioned it several times during our day together.

South of the junction, BN 2322 was waiting on a northbound UP train that we'd heard clearing up at Carlisle.  The crew, D.B.A. the Norfolk and Western in this area, was impatient and called the Glake Yard office several times while they cooled their heels just south of Market Street.  The NW yardmaster reminded them that once "Myra", the Trenton sub. dispatcher this morning, had a signal set she would not take it down.

At 8:34 the northbound train, with symbol M-NLDM came across Maury and approached the NW diamond just north of Market.  On the point were UP 9286 and 3672.  They took the southeast leg of the junction and went east into the yard.  After a couple of stops to throw switches and to check to make sure their yard track was clear, they got out of the way and allowed the BN engine to go to work.

Mike and I headed north to Nevada and then east toward Marshalltown.  Just before reaching West Marshall we spotted a westbound, so I turned around and chased it back to La Moille.  We caught them at 10:18, a set of empty LNTX coal hoppers behind UP 7048 and 6636.  We'd heard some discussion on the radio earlier of a train coming out of Powerville, and this looked like the one.

We got to the Marshalltown yard around 10:30 and the first thing to come through was westbound light power,  Note the truck up on the bridge.  We noticed over the next few hours that this vehicle made numerous trips over the yard on the two viaducts.  The ex-CNW units were "patched" as UP 405 and UP 408.  In the background of the last shot you can see the power from the "Dum Dum" (M-DMDM), UP 2957, 3016 and 3636, working the west end of the yard.

It almost an hour before we got any more traffic, and it sounded like single-tracking to the east of us was going to keep things pretty quiet this morning.  We did get an eastbound pig train at 11:30, pulled by UP 4182 and UP 9436.

One thing that was moving in the yard was the train headed down the Oskaloosa branch.  At 11:38 they started out of the yard with an interesting collection of power.  The lead unit was 403, followed by UP 9975, UP 9979 (rear) (front) and UP 9993 (rear) (front).  The train was given a warrant by the branch dispatcher using the second unit, 9975.

Mike's a great fan of branch line running and there seemed to be nothing else pending on the mainlines, so we decided to follow this train out of town for a way.  Our first stop was in Dillon, at a triangle of grass by the tracks that we dubbed the  "Dillon Railfan Park".  The principle attraction here is the antique grade crossing flashers, unfortunately missing their rotating warning signs.  The southbound local came through at noon, passing by an ACI reader near the grade crossing and charging on past the park.

When we got back in the Jeep, a voice came on the scanner and advised us, "You don't have to run, we've got four slow orders coming up down here."  Mike and I stair-stepped along the gravel roads in front of the train and spent a few minutes in Gilman looking around, but failed to find a suitable photo-op.  Just north of Newburg we came upon a nice curve and a couple of bridges, so we stopped and waited there for the train, which appeared at 12:35.  After getting a couple of shots as the train passed, we started back toward Marshalltown.

While we were waiting on 403, I'd heard dispatcher B.E.W., "Blake", say to someone that, "I'm going to go six times west on my single track in about an hour."  Mike and I figured we had time to get back to M'town, grab some lunch and then catch the parade.  The first thing to come through was an eastbound rail testing truck, followed by a highrail Suburban.  Then we started seeing some train traffic.  Between 1:45 and 3:20 we had eight:

1:47 - WB CEFX coal empty, UP 4375 and 4223
2:12 - WB EDGX coal empty, UP 6499 and 6492
2:29 - EB KGLX coal load, UP 6840, SP 248 and UP 8122 - stopped to drop someone off at 12th St.
2:38 - WB Stacker, UP 4857 and 7562
2:46 - EB Stacker, UP 4196, 4069 and 9212
2:55 - WB Stacker, UP 4777, 8511 and 4368 - 4777 looked pretty fresh - heading for West Marshall
3:16 - WB CWEX coal empty, UP 6870 and SP 110 - heading for West Marshall - next EB in the distance
3:20 - EB Autorack empty, UP 4447 and 9602

That's only five westbounds, Mike and I both lost count and started back west instead of waiting for the last one.  (I really miss my note-taking partner!)  I took the gravel beside the tracks and just west of La Moille at 3:45 we met another eastbound.  On the point were UP 4722, UP 3073 and something else.  It looked like one of the Boston "T" commuter locos to me, numbered 1060.  I turned the Jeep and we chased it back to the east.

Almost immediately the La Moille detector came on for Main 2 - there was the sixth westbound, a stacker led by UP 4574, 9463 and 4639.  We got a couple of quick pictures of the trains meeting then started the race back west again.  It's hard to get good shots and pace on gravel at the same time - Mike got this one for me out of the passenger's window as we ran beside 4574 at 60 mph.

Mike and I had a pretty quiet trip back to Des Moines.  As I was going around the east side on the bypass, we heard the M-DMSS call the dispatcher as it was getting ready to leave town.  They needed to change their "warrant for bulletins".  I knew what was coming - this would be to put the CNW unit we'd seen this morning in the lead.  Mike had been "foaming" about catching it on the point of a train for most of the day.

The crew of the DMSS asked to change the warrant so it was addressed to CNW 6819.  Of course I did the right thing and turned off on Euclid to see if we could intercept them before they got out of town.  We made it with a few minutes to spare and caught them coming by the "bean plant" at 5:20 and charging hard for Swanwood Hill.  In addition to the 6819, there were two other units that we'd seen this morning, UP 2972 and 1073.  After watching them round the curve and head on north, we checked out Short Line Yard one more time and then heading on home.

That's It!