An Excursion to Marshalltown


This is an account of a train-watching excursion taken from Indianola to Marshalltown, Iowa and back, along the Chicago and North Western on March 25, 1995. The "photos" were taken with an Apple QuickTake camera, and processed with the program PhotoFlash into JPEG images. The railroad territory covered on this trip will soon be taken over by the Union Pacific.

I followed the CNW Spine Line north to KC/Chicago Junction just west of Nevada. There, a train was waiting on the track that connects the two wyes to go north. The southbound ITDMA had lost its air, and was making a reverse move in the McCallsburg block to pick up its conductor. Eventually, the ITDMA appeared behind CNW 6817 and UP 2429. As soon as it cleared Chicago junction, the northbound, with CNW 8549 and 6845, and a very short consist, headed around the wye past Chicago junction.

I drove east from Nevada, meeting one westbound mixed train just east of town at 9:55. At Marshalltown, I stopped at West Marshalltown - a pair of crossovers. This was the site of the wreck and fire of the "Spud Train" during the last winter. In Marshalltown, the CNW maintains a depot, yard and locomotive repair shop. I took a number of images of the shop area, as it is to be closed by the Union Pacific.

I tried to record all of the engines present in the yard. Standing dead east of the viaduct were CNW engines: 4176, 4189, 5057, 5504, and 5524
The east end of the yard was being worked by CNW 4132 and 4149
West of the viaduct, in the shop area (mostly running) were: 4813, 6819, 6865, 700?, 7031, 8013, 8038, 8533, 8536, 8554, 8555
Further west sat 4202, 6539 and 6913.

Traffic through the yard was fairly heavy between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Here are the trains I saw and the times at which they appeared:

Things then quieted down somewhat. CNW 8519 and 8543 came to the east end of the yard and waited to go pick up a set of empty hoppers at Powerville, northeast of the yard. The power for the MTPRE (sorry, no numbers) tried to double its train together, but got stuck in spilled corn meal. A Union Pacific track evaluation car, EC-2, arrived at East Marshalltown at 3:04. Just as I headed home, a grain train, WMT20, arrived at the west end of the yard at 3:44.

If you ever go to Marshalltown, be sure to check out Taylor's Maid-Rite, which is just a few blocks north of the depot. They've been serving for 67 years, and have the walls around their U-shaped counter papered with National Geographic maps. Their motto is "Go 'round the world, but come back again!" Don't ask for ketsup, 'cause they won't put it on a Maid-Rite. I recommend you order "Two with pickle and mustard, and a chocolate shake, to go." Park down by the depot and watch the CNW (UP) roll while eating. If you'd prefer to eat in, Stones Restaurant (Since 1887) is right across from the depot.

That's all for this excursion. I hope you enjoyed it!