Des Moines, Newton and Albia
June 10, 1997


Jan and I had a beautiful sunny Iowa day to train-watch Tuesday, and we drove in a loop taking in several Iowa railroads. We went first to Des Moines to look around at Short Line Yard. When we arrived, the UP was using the wye at Short Line Junction to turn some power for the DMEA. Power is often turned at Short Line to get CNW units with train control on the point. The units, UP 6166 and CNW 6818, went out of the yard on the southeast leg, pulled north on the so-called "Spine Line" and then ran back into the yard on the northeast leg.

At the same time, a UP coal empty of CWEX cars was moving south on the old "Fort Dodge" line to detour west on the Iowa Interstate. The power was freshly-painted C44AC units 4007 and 4002. They were lettered GECX, rather than Union Pacific.

On the radio, we heard the MKSDM arriving from the south at the old Burlington diamond. After the detour started across Dean Avenue, we drove around and over the east end of the yard to get south of the junction and catch them at 9:20 as they started north to the yard. On the head end were CNW 7010, and UP units 3580 and 3939.

We left Des Moines and headed east, following the old Rock Island right of way. At 9:55, just west of Colfax, we met a westbound IAIS train with units 402, 468 and 403. We took their picture just across the highway from a Rock Island caboose, number 17036, that rests on private property.

We stopped next in Newton where IAIS 408 was switching. The crew (Wesley, Dixie and ??) discussed getting their pictures taken on the radio as we followed them around. The IAIS does lots of intermodal business here, and has built a new yard with facilities for trailers and containers out northeast of the city. One sees many covered coil steel gondolas and also finds retired unit train coal gons being used to carry out the scraps from building washers and dryers.

We drove on over to Grinnell and got some lunch to take to the former depot, now a restaurant, sitting right at the junction of the UP and IAIS. Right at noon, a southbound UP train came down the branch line from Marshalltown and passed the depot. On the point were UP 3244 and 3172. We decided to follow this train south out of Grinnell.

As we worked our way south, I stopped to get a couple of more images of the train. I caught the long nose of 3244 again just north of Searsboro as they crossed a gravel road underpass, and again at the North Skunk River bridge next to Highway 146.

We left them behind at Oskaloosa and drove on down to Eddyville. There we found CNW 4627 switching at the huge Cargill corn-milling plant.

Our next stop was Albia, and the junction called Maxon where the UP interchanges with the BNSF. A coal load was just getting up the hill when we arrived around 2:30, and all we saw were the last few DEEX cars. Shortly after we got to Maxon, a westbound grain empty crossed over and came down main 2. It had BN 6371 and 8154 on the point.

We knew from the radio that several other trains were nearby, so we worked the crossword puzzle and waited and watched. At 3:25, BN 9566 and 9407 arrived with a set of loaded GCCX cars. Just after they cleared the area, a westbound empty, with AEPX cars, showed up behind 9701 and 9405. After a half-hour passed, another load came up the hill with BN 9636 and BNSF 9717 on the point. This train had bright orange and black IPWX gons.

We headed back to the west toward home, but had to stop at the bottom of the hill to see SF 2316 at Halpin. They were returning from Chariton with one empty flat car and crossed over from the eastbound main to go up main 1 at Albia.

That's It!