Marshalltown and Ames
May 29


Byron came over Friday night so that we could do some train watching on Saturday. We left Indianola around 7:30 and drove first to Des Moines. We'd heard a couple of northbounds leave Des Moines already, with warrants to meet a southbound at Cambridge. As we cruised around Short Line Yard, we saw the BN switching the interchange under East 14th Street, so we went downtown to get a look. BN 2321 was running around its cars and heading in to do its pick up at 8:07.

We went on north on the interstate and then cut over to the east to run closer to the Spine Line. We intercepted the southbound grinding up the hill into Elkhart at a gravel road crossing at 8:33. On the point were SSW 9643, UP 5521 and SP 9607. We continued north, pretty sure that we were on the tail of a northbound that had just left Cambridge.

We went to the west end of Ames yard (which isn't in Ames, but out to the east of it) and stopped there for several trains. The first was at 8:56, a westbound coal empty with WEPX gons, behind UP 8072 and SP 344. This train stopped and waited on traffic for a while. A couple of engines, UP 9207 and 3020, were parked at the west end of the yard. The next train, at 9:07, was a westbound stacker running reversed to pass the coal empty. Its power was UP 6296 and 5090. Another westbound stack train followed just 15 minutes later with UP 6215, 3446 and 7525.

By now we'd learned from the scanner that the northbound we were trailing was waiting at KC Junction to come west and that there was an eastbound that had stopped while the stackers crossed back to the south main in front of the WEPX empty. The eastbounder got to us first, by a couple of minutes, at 9:40. This was a grain train, powered by UP 6315 and 9208. The westbound off of the Spine Line was referred to as a "junk train" on the radio, and had six engines, UP 3017, switcher 1014, CNW 4710, UP 1743 and 1732, and CNW 4705.

After the above two trains passed us, we drove east, stopping on the overpass above the KC/Chi connection for another look at 6315, which would be taking its grain south down the Spine Line.

Byron and I headed for Marshalltown. Just out of Colo, we heard the detector go off for an eastbound. This train was catching up to us, so we hurried to the overpass at State Center for a picture at 10:13. This was a piggyback train with UP 5998, 6043 and 9548.

Our next stop was just west of the overpass at West Marshalltown. By this time (10:30) we'd gotten ahead of the 5998 and stopped to catch it and a westbound that was leaving Marshalltown. The westbound was an automobile train with UP 7166 and 7175. We saw 5998 again on the other side of the overpass as they took the signal at West Marshall.

We drove into the Marshalltown yard area and took a look at Transglobal, a loco rebuilder that's moved into the old CNW shop building. In addition to the usual derelicts, UP 6641 and 6603 were parked near the yard. We went to the east end of the yard where Job 1, with UP 1734 and SP 2751, were switching rows of covered hoppers and corn syrup cars. They pulled a long cut out in front of us and we missed a westbound, CWEX empties, at 11:00.

We went over to the north side of the yard and parked under the Center St. viaduct, next to the mainlines. In this location, we caught a number of trains:

11:12 - EB Autos and Containers - UP 6331 and 6207
11:21 - WB Grain empty - UP 3047 and 2454 (headed for the Jewell sub.)

We made a quick run to Taylor's for an "oil change" (as one UP MOP called it).
I got two with pickle and mustard, Byron two plain; chocolate shake each.
Had to put my sandwich aside for:

11:41 - WB WEPX Empties - UP 8249 and 8179

The parade continued:

11:49 - EB Stacker - UP 6336, 5379 and 7522
12:08 - EB Stacker - UP 9479 and MPI 9028
12:23 - WB Stacker - UP 8227, 9499 and 9452

We moved to the south side of the mains under the 3rd/6th Street viaduct for:

12:43 - WB Stacker - CNW 8685, UP 9169, 6122 and 9031 (9000 ft. train!)
12:48 - EB EDGX Coal - UP 6757 and SP 338.

We'd been picking up some discussion of a train that had "lost its air" in Ames, and then finally heard that they had pulled a drawbar out of a car ten cars or so back in the train. Figuring that this was going to create some congestion, we drove back over to Ames.

The train, eastbound piggybacks behind CNW 8638, was stopped not far west of Hazel Street and had broken in two back on the high fill between the park and ISU. The drawbar itself was back under the train a few cars to the west. The train did not derail. The dispatcher tried to work traffic around them while the folks from the car department and M. of W. gathered. One guy asked me, "Didn't I see you guys over in Marshalltown?". "Yeah, but we ran out of trains over there!"

The repair would require both mains, so that the drawbar could be retrieved with a truck-mounted crane and brought forward to be reinserted. The dispatcher needed to run trains first, however, so we watched them come around:

2:07 - EB Autos - UP 8190 and 6140 (first backed to south main)
2:30 - EB Manifest - UP 6363, UP 4802, and RG 5356
2:54 - EB CWEX Coal - UP 6564 and 8270
3:17 - EB Manifest - UP 3091 and SP 7339
3:34 - EB Manifest - CNW 6880, UP 3019 and UP 2987
3:52 - EB Stacker ("70 mph train") - UP 9540, CNW 8624 and UP 6286

Finally, at almost 4:00, the car department truck got onto Main 2 and went west after the drawbar. Within about a half an hour, they had the drawbar back in the car and were beginning to do some welding on the car. From the discussion with the dispatcher, it sounded like the relief crew were going to end up setting out the car before going on. We'd had a pretty good day - 26 trains - but it was time to head for Indianola.

That's It!