At Albia we quickly checked the yard, finding one unit, BNSF 7001, parked with the spreader. By this time we'd heard a couple of trains coming up the hill so we went on out to old Maxon to wait for them. The first, a distributed power CEFX load, arrived at 8:53. Leading the cars was BNSF 5686. Byron and I both found later that our second shots of the engine included quite a bit of glare from the engineer's windshield. We learned later what it looked like from the other side of the glass. The rear unit on this coal train was BNSF 8976.
The second load appeared at 9:16, BNSF 4392 and 5620 pulling fairly new PNJX cars. I noticed that these cars carried the logo of recently bankrupt and reorganized "NRG", along with a person and a powerplant name. The detector east of Maxon read the first load at 532 axles and the second at 488. Both of these trains were told by the dispatcher to come down to the ICE crossover and that they would wait there for Amtrak to come around them on Main 1.
Byron and I drove east to Ottumwa, noticing the power of a southbound ICE train in the Ottumwa yard by Hwy. 34. The units were ICE 6401, 6406 and 6408. Waiting on the platform with the outbound engineers at the Amtrak station, we heard No. 6 get its warrant at Maxon at 10:17.
The Zephyr's headlight appeared at the ICE crossover at 10:41. They came into the depot on Main 2 and rolled to a stop at 10:50. In the passenger train today:
AMTK 168 and 40Inbound engineer Denise Degner completed her inspection, stopped by the crew car, and before long the outbound crew had boarded. Passengers were whistled aboard and engineer Morris reported their departure as 11:03.
Transition Sleeper 39007
Sleepers 32049 and 32062
Sightseer Lounge 33046
Coaches 34056, 35007 and 34000
Two XpressTrak Reefers
As soon as Amtrak was on the way, four trains were turned loose. The first of the two loads the Zephyr had passed came through the depot at 11:09. The camera that had taken our picture at Maxon was visible through the windshield of 5686. Byron and I solved the "Two train - which side of the double track?" dilemma by staying in the middle as a westbound started our direction. This was another CEFX car set led by BN 9698 and BNSF 8811. For a short time we found ourselves between long lines of CEFX tub gondolas The empty cleared at 11:13 and the rear unit of the load came by a minute later.
In a few minutes another westbound followed. The lead unit, BNSF 9461, had a red bandana tied to the handrail, a talisman I've seen for many years along this line. Trailing was BNSF 8938. The cars were more of the NRG units, these with a build date of May 2005. The other eastbound we'd seen at Maxon started toward us at 11:30. The two lead units came by just as the westbound was clearing our location. Interestingly, we were once again between car sets from the same company.
We'd been seeing the headlight of switching activity in the Ottumwa yard and decided to have a look. We found BNSF 2882, cabless BNSF 1701 and EMDX 756 doing the chores today.
Byron and I got some takeout and returned to the depot area for three more trains. To the west, eastbound trains were waiting on both mains. On Main 2, a "Q" intermodal came in at just after 1:00. The "trailer train" had just one unit, badly faded BNSF 4519. When I saw the head end, I assumed it was a DP train, but there was nothing but an EOT unit on the rear.
The other train waiting to the west was a unit "Feed" train from the Cargill plant near Eddyville. They were on Main 1 and crossed over at the ICE to follow the intermodal up Agency hill. This train had four units, distributed with two on each end. Leading were BNSF 4891 and 5448. This unit train was made up mostly of BN tub gons once in coal service, now equipped with "ShurLok" tarp covers. Every few cars there was a GGPX inserted. On the rear of the train were warbonnet SF 909 and BNSF 4592.
At 1:25 we had another empty coal train, EXEX cars led by BNSF 8822 and 5692.
We headed on back to Albia at this point and stopped to check out the new Relco loco rebuilding facility just south of town. On the radio we learned that there was a train on the move down the Des Moines branch toward us and that a coal load destined for the power plant at Chillicothe was ready to start up Albia Hill. We drove to the "double crossing" and parked around 2:20 to await the load. After what seemed like an inordinately long wait the lead unit appeared at 2:45, but seemed to be just barely moving. As we watched, the headlights went out and the crew reported that the lead unit had overheated and shut down.
The dispatcher just beginning his shift, his first "solo" on the dreaded Ottumwa subdivision, gave a heavy sigh at the news of the stalled train. Byron and I headed up the branch and intercepted the M-DMOWQM in Knoxville at 3:35. This train had quite a few grain hoppers, mostly NS and NW cars, plus some of the usual Des Moines freight traffic. Pulling were BNSF 6739, 9294, 7802 and 2928. We watched this one pass and then headed for the acreage northeast of Pleasantville.