Short Line Junction with Byron
Saturday, June 4
Byron and I agreed to meet in Des Moines for some train watching on
Saturday. I left home around 6:30 and headed up Hwy. 5 toward Des
Moines. We had a fairly warm and very humid morning
with an overcast sky. I drove into a light shower on the way to
Carlisle. An ethanol empty was parked on the mainline in
Carlisle. They'd cut the crossing, but the rear of the train was
so close to the road that the crossing lights and bell were running
continuously. I couldn't see the head end, but learned later that
the leader was UP 6008. This train wouldn't get moving until mid
After picking up Byron, we looked around at Short Line and Hull yards.
There were two southbounds in the area, a CPFW tied down on the
"Dodge" and an MCDM calling for signals. We caught the latter
pulling around the northeast leg into Short Line Yard around 7:45.
Leading the Mason City train were UP 5125, 4397 and 7199.
At 8:00, we caught UP 1216 and UPY 1447 heading north across the diamonds to do some work in the Hull Yard. A transfer move, powered by UPY 1330 and HLCX 342, came out of Short Line and followed at 8:15.
Around 8:30, four units were brought out of the yard on the southeast
leg to be turned and backed onto a southbound consist in the yard.
We went to Market St. to watch and were told by a UP employee
that we were making the crew (Job 1) "nervous" and should move to the
other side of the street. Naturally, we complied, though we were
being chased off of one shoulder of a public street (probably NS
property, actually) to another.
The four units being turned were IC 1020, UP 8034, UP 8038 and UP 4122.
We then drove back to the Dean Ave. crossings to catch the units
heading north. No company employees were around to protect the
nervous crew when this car, the second one we observed and photographed doing so this morning, drove around the gates in front of the locos.
Throughout the morning, we'd been listening on the scanner to attempts
to get the brakes working properly on the CPFW. It sounded like
this was going to take a while, so we drove down to the southeast
corner of Des Moines to catch the NS doing some switching of the
pipeline facility there. Working a long string of black tankers were NS 5511 and 3525. We returned to Short Line to catch a couple of units
off the CPFW being turned and run north back to the train. The
solution to the brake problem was to change lead units, since 8139
wouldn't work unless trailing.
At 10:40 UP 1484 and UPY 1432, working as Job 70X, came south with a transfer move. We also observed UPY 1439 and UPY 1380, now with the allegedly "nervous" Job 1 crew, working the west end of Short Line.
The CPFW was finally on the move at 12:20. They came south across Dean Ave. with the lead units rearranged, UP 8550 in front, with UP 8139 and 5108
trailing. They stopped just after crossing the street and
eventually backed toward Hull Ave. yard in order to double their train
together. We drove around and over the East 30th viaduct to see
them again at Market St. Here we found another railfan, Brad
Grefe, seated on the ties just north of the street, training a long
lens across the NS diamond at the CPFW. Brad let us know that he
was fresh from running the "Dam to Dam" marathon in Des Moines, and
shared his recent life story and indecision over what to do with his
master's degree in transportation.
The CPFW hit the NS diamond at 1:00, so we had one more look at the rearranged power, 8550, 8139 and 5108, before we headed south to Carlisle to catch them there. It was about one half hour before the CPFW nosed into the siding
to get past the ethanol tanker train. The siding dodges to the
west quite a bit, since it once went behind the Carlisle depot.
The track then swings east where the Indianola spur (now a bike trail) headed south. The CPFW had destributed power, with UP 8545 on the rear. We heard the detector count this one at 564 axles, or 135 cars.
At 2:00 we heard the second southbound coming, probably a DMKC manifest, and they entered the siding soon after. This train was powered by the engines we'd seen turning at Short Line, UP 4122, 8038, 8034 and IC 1020. A crew had been sent by van down to collect the ethanol train and we stuck around long enough to see them start putting it together before it was time to head home.