Cascade Siding at "Hawkeye"

June 7 Through June 12


Thursday, June 7

I drove into Pleasantville to catch the DMOWQM, which I'd heard pulling the hill up out of Runnells around 1:30.  When I looked to the northwest down the rails, I could see that some work was being done at the far end of the new siding for Cascade, a company that builds roof trusses.  They've had the siding itself built and the switches laid out for several months, waiting on the BNSF to cut the switches into the mainline.  The railroad's siding, now called "Hawkeye" is on the north side of the main and the new siding for the industry is on the south with its switches between the others.

The Des Moines - Quincy train was led by BNSF 515 and 8052.  Except for two tank cars near the rear of the train, there were only covered hoppers in the consist.  On the scanner at home later in the afternoon, I heard them stall on the way into Knoxville, having overheated a traction motor on 515.  They ended up doubling the train into town, using a single-ended siding to put some of the train away temporarily.

Monday, June 11

Work began in earnest on Monday to cut the new switches into the mainline.  In the morning I heard Foreman Jim Frank obtain a "work between" warrant and tell the dispatcher that he expected to be working eight to ten hours.  They began with the west switch.  I drove as close as I could to the project and got a couple of pictures around 2:00 in the afternoon.  By that time, pieces of the new switch were being lifted and moved into place.  I believe Frank had hoped to allow traffic around the project using the Hawkeye siding, but it was blocked by work train power and ballast cars, so they had to work until the main track was usable, with a slow order overnight.

Tuesday, June 12

Susan had an appointment in Des Moines on Tuesday morning, and by the time we got back they had cut away the mainline at the east end and had placed some rail.  The switch appears to have been constructed from heavier rail than the main, so each end has a transition section.  I made several visits over the afternoon to see how the project was going, and had better access for pictures, since the east end is near a grade crossing.

The switch broke down in to several sections, each of which was lifted by an endloader and moved to the grade.  Then the derrick would raise and position the section.  Once in place, the piece would be bolted on the west end and then the derrick would move forward as the next section was fetched by the loader.  At times, the endloader was used to help position the section before it went after the next section of the switch.

By 2:30, it was time for the last section, the switch points.  This piece turned out to be almost all the loader could handle.  I stayed while the points were carefully maneuvered into position and the crew began attaching them to the previous section.  With only the transition rails to be done, I took a break and went back to the ranch for a while.

Around 4:30 I heard Foreman Frank on the radio arranging to bring the DMOWQM through the site.  The maintenance crew would put all of their equipment on the mainline and line the switches for the siding so the local could come by the work site.  I drove into town and arrived just in time to see the train entering the west end of the Hawkeye siding.  Work on the transition rail and on the switch throw hardware continued as the local came down the siding.  At 5:00 the train came by the new switch, led by BNSF 146 and 8628.  When I left to go home again, the track gang had begun drilling to connect the south transition rail.

Postscript:  As of Wednesday evening, the mainline is back in service, but the Cascade siding remains disconnected from the switches.  I'm guessing that the siding itself was not a BNSF project, but contracted out, and that someone now needs to return to attach the siding to the switches.

That's It!