This is an account of an excursion taken on June 2 from Indianola, Iowa west to Atlantic, along the route of the Iowa Interstate, north to Carroll, and west to Woodbine along the Chicago and North Western. The images were taken with an Apple QuickTake camera and processed into JPEG format with the program PhotoFlash.
Byron has taken a new job in Audubon, Iowa, and I agreed to meet him there on Friday morning at 11:30 to see the house he'd rented and the school where he will be the band director. We planned to take the afternoon to do some train-watching along the CNW. I started out at 7:30, in rain and fog, and headed up to Des Moines to follow the IAIS (former Rock Island) main west to Atlantic. I had decided to get some pictures of depots and equipment along the way, and, hopefully to catch a train or two.
I stopped first in Earlham to get a picture of the IAIS shack there. It isn't much to see, but it does have the remains of a train-order signal beside it. The decaying brick Rock Island structure in Stuart still resembles a depot, but it has been extensively vandalized. In the weeds near the depot in Stuart I found IAIS 407 standing dead in a siding.
As I checked out an area near the grain elevator in Adair, an eastbound IAIS train came though behind units 850, 401, 405, and 601. Adair acknowledges it's railroad history, and has an outside frame caboose, now serving as the Jesse James Gift Shop, at the south end of the downtown area. Between Adair and Anita, along county road G30, there is a sign and a steam engine driver wheel marking the "Site of the first train robbery in the west committed by Jesse James and his gang of outlaws - July 21, 1873."
Part of the Rock Island depot in Anita remains, although the east end has been removed. The depot in Atlantic sits at the north end of one of the downtown streets, and is in fairly well preserved. It still houses storage space for the IAIS, and is used for some community functions. The eaves of the depot are supported by intricate metal scrollwork.
Just northeast of Atlantic, where highway 71 crosses Interstate 80, is the storage site of the "Purple Martin". This is a collection of approximately 26 passenger cars, a caboose, and a steam loco, CB&Q 3007. At one time, this was to be a restaurant and steam excursion railroad, but those plans fell through. Today, the equipment is for sale. If you've a few hundred thousand burning holes in your pocket, call (712) 243-1931. The Purple Martin sits beside a branch line to Audubon, portions of which are now abandoned. It appears that the equipment could still be moved to the IAIS at Atlantic by rail.
After meeting Byron and checking out his new home, he and I decided to go north to Carroll and have lunch by the CNW tracks. We found a good spot just across the double-track main from the CNW depot, and watched several freights go by before heading west along the CNW tracks.
1:13 Eastbound Mixed CNW 8011, UP 9269
1:20 Westbound Mixed CNW 7024, 6815
1:23 Westbound Stacker UP 6310, 6169
In Carroll, we found CNW 6928, sitting dead on the east end of a ribbon rail train behind the K-Mart. After lunch we headed west along highway 30, which closely parallels the CNW tracks. At the west end of Carroll at 1:45, we caught an eastbound coal train behind CNW 8525 and 8558. At 2:04, just west of Vail, we met an eastbound stack train pulled by UP 9478, 5022, and 9343. Westbound traffic slowed due to conjestion west of Denison, where the double-track ends, and we began to catch up with the trains we had seen in Carroll at lunch time. At 2:04 we passed UP 6310 east of Dow City, and at 2:36 we found CNW 7024 in the siding at West Dunlap.
Along this route, one finds the watershed between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Just behind the sign marking the highest elevation is a deep cut for the CNW mains.
We met another eastbound train, behind CNW 8529 and 8692, at 2:45, just as we arrived at Woodbine. It had a few auto racks on the head end, with the remainder of the train APL stackers. On the radio, we'd heard that there was a problem with the track "pumping" about one foot near the west end of the Woodbine siding. When we arrived, track workers were just finishing their repair and heading back into town. At 3:09, a coal train arrived behind CNW 8540 and UP 9438 to enter the siding.
We turned and headed back along the tracks to Carroll. At Denison, we found CNW 6564 idling on the east end of a cut of ballast hoppers, and back in Carroll, we watched a train we'd seen earlier add the 6928, now running, to their consist and head on east.