May 17, 1998

Jan and I left early on Sunday morning for Davenport. She was to attend a shower for my son Aaron's fiance, and we wanted to incorporate a little train-watching along the way. Our first stop was in Beech, on the UP Spine line, where a southbound manifest was just coming to a stop around 7:35 on the mainline behind 5947 and 2998. They were waiting on a northbound coal empty that was going to tie down in the siding. We'd heard the Melcher detector go off for the northbound train as we were driving over, so we knew they were not far away.

At almost 8:00, the northbound appeared, with UP 8069 and 8071 in charge of ETRX cars. We waited until they started to pull into the siding and then hurried on eastward on Highway 92. We tried to keep track by radio of activity on the IMRL, since we knew we'd start paralleling this line in the eastern part of the state at Washington. Washington was one of the Iowa towns hit by a tornado late last week, and cleanup activities were in full swing when we arrived. The storm missed by just a few blocks hitting the restored MILW depot.

We followed 92 into Muscatine and checked out some IMRL equipment. Sitting next to the depot was ex-Soo GeeP, IMRL 126. East of Muscatine one can follow the railroad closely, and we knew that we had a westbound train, No. 111, getting near. We intercepted it just outside of Montpelier at 11:05. On the head end were gray IMRL 8925 and blue 210. The train had a wide load just behind the power, and pulled by us very slowly since they were going to stop and tie up some loose strapping on a car near the head end.

Just outside the Davenport city limits, I was surprised to find a CNW crane, number 251, that we'd seen going through Des Moines on the IAIS last week. It was parked on the spur into Blackhawk Fleet.

Our next stop was IMRL's Nahant Yard, where we found a very interesting collection of power. IMRL 602 was switching at the east end of the yard, with WSOR 4533 tied behind it. There were many first-generation and later units, from a number of roads, at the Nahant engine service facility. Jan made a quick list of unit numbers we'd seen so far:

106, 107, 111, 112, 117, 122, 123, 124
200, 203, 205, 218, 220, 221
360, 362, 364, 370, 375
604, 606, 607, 608
(CPRail)5480, 5677
NS 5096, 6111
There were a few others we could not see.

We left the yard and went to get some takeout to eat down by the riverfront in Bettendorf. Just before stopping for lunch, we intercepted a westbound train with IMRL 701 and 343.

After making connections with the rest of the shower group, Aaron and I went out to do some train-watching of our own. He'd never been to Nahant, so we first went back there and got some more pictures of interesting IMRL power like these ex-SP units (608, 607).

At 1:37, train 112, with 203, 205, 364 and 212, arrived and crossed over in front of the train Jan and I had seen in Bettendorf. The first two units still had Conrail lettering showing through their paint. 212 was pretty obviously ex-UP.

At 2:15, another westbound appeared. This was a coal load, of SOO and SSMX cars, behind IMRL 703, 358 and 393.

Aaron and I then went over to the Illinois side to have a look at the restored Rock Island depot. It's still for sale, just sitting there collecting gang graffiti. We drove on up the river to East Moline and stopped at the ex-CP caboose yard office where a couple of IMRL units, 108 and 120, were parked. Nearby, caboose Soo 20 was set out on a spur.

We also drove out to Silvis and spent a few minutes exclaiming over the amazing engine collection at NRE, the old Rock Island Silvis shop.

After I picked up Jan again, we stopped in downtown Davenport to get pictures of the Union Depot and the old Milwaukee Freight House. We drove back to the west and, in Muscatine at 6:15, caught up with the coal train that Aaron and I had seen earlier. This time, IMRL 114 and 125 were on the head end, pulling the train into the yard. They cut off and went on westward to switch, while some other power, with IMRL 702 and another unit we didn't get, headed east.

We met another train, northbound on the UP in Oskaloosa, at 8:50 - lots of syrup tanks and grain loads coming up from Eddyville. On the head end were UP 3052, SP 8512, UP 3144 and CNW 4606. They had a long train, and blocked the highway while doing some switching.

At Beech, the same coal empty that we'd seen pull in was still in the siding.

Tuesday, we came back through Beech at 7:45 p.m., and the coal empty was still in the siding. A van had brought a crew down, but the locos (8069 and 8071) were dead and would not start. They decided to bring some units down from Des Moines to try to "jump start" them, and then take that crew back to K.C. However, this morning (Wednesday) I heard the same units getting a warrant to come north from Beech to Carlisle at 9:40 a.m.!

That's It!