Catching UP


May 26 through June 15

Monday, May 26, 5:40 P.M.

UP 4803 is being recrewed near the crest of the hill between Carlisle and Hartford.  The Armadillo van driver radios the head end and reports that I'm taking pictures.  As she starts back for Des Moines, passing the Jeep, I hold my Rock Island cap out the window and she says, "Okay, I see!"

The train's on the move at 5:45, UP 4803, 9582 and SP 106 start the grain extra up and over the hill with relative ease.  I pace them to the southeast and get another shot or two as they roll over the new bridge above Hwy. 5.

Out at Susan's place, a garden railroad's beginning to take shape.  You have to use your imagination!

Tuesday, May 27, 6:00 A.M.

I reach the bridge at Hartford just in time to watch a bare table (348 axles) going south on the UP's "Spine Line".  On the point are UP 5064 and 9303.

Same Day, 6:40 P.M.

I'm at the home of Joe Godfroy near Redfield to load an ex-RI crossing gate from Williamson, Iowa, onto my trailer.  Joe has purchased two setups, one of which adorns the entrance to his acreage.  It turns out that he's also a garden railroader and president of the Central Iowa Garden Railroad Society.

Saturday, May 31

After some negotiation, the gate nears its eventual location just northwest of Susan's place.  The garden railroad construction continues.

Monday, June 9, 8:00 P.M.

County Road S-31 paving is near completion and the UP has installed new crossing gates to replace the crossbuck and stop sign arrangement.  UP's M-KSIT has been recrewed at Beech and is ready to start toward Des Moines.  The new crossing signals activate well ahead of the train.

Railfan scuttlebutt has it that the Des Moines' CTC will be extended from CP U064 (south end of the Carlisle siding) down here to the Beech siding soon.

The manifest appears at 8:10 and rounds the curve with UP 4492, 4581 and WC 6602 in the lead.

Tuesday, June 10, 6:00 P.M.

A southbound manifest holds the main at Beech while the conductor throws the siding switch for a meet.  UP 4237 trails an ex-CR and a Norfolk Southern unit.  We wait.  And wait.  The mosquitoes win, I give up and travel on to a supper date at Susan's.

Wednesday, June 11, 8:30 P.M.

A young man named Todd Bliwise from the Atlanta, Georgia, area has emailed me saying that he will be on Amtrak No. 5 tonight and he'd like to say hello during the station stop at Osceola.  At age 15, this fan has more than 20,000 miles of passenger train travel behind him.  After supper with my mother in Indianola, Susan and I head south to check out tonight's Zephyr.

Late sunsets, with the sun well north of the rails in June, facilitate pictures of the westbound CZ at Osceola.  There are quite a few passengers tonight.  The train's just a few minutes down and comes into sight at 8:49.  As the train approaches, the passengers are herded into place by station attendants Pat Greene and J.R. Black.  Engineer Rich Fertig gives a flashlight signal from the cab.  In the consist tonight:

AMTK 122 and 166
Baggage 1194
Transition Sleeper 39021
Coaches 34006, 34072 and 31514 (Smoking)
Sightseer Lounge 33029
Diner 38004
Sleepers 32085 (Louisiana), 32109 (South Dakota) and 32002
Two XpressTrak, three boxcars and one Roadrailer
Todd is at the door of the last sleeper and we meet and shake hands after the Zephyr's second spot.  Rich reports the stop to the dispatcher as ":50 and :59".   I give Rich a call and leave a message telling him about Todd.  I hear later that Rich had a chance to say hello to Todd during the Omaha stop.

Sunday June 15

Susan and I travel to a meeting of the Central Iowa Garden Railroad Society at the home of Karl Swessinger in Marshalltown.  At the informal business meeting, held in the garage, news and information is offered, interrupted every couple of paragraphs with a door prize drawing.  Susan wins a wind chime.  A young man (sorry, I left my roster behind) shows off a nicely done kit-bashed building.

Before long, we adjourn to the back yard to see the layout., where an odd-looking steam loco continuously orbits the outer track.  We hang around long enough to talk with a few of the folks present and then start back toward Des Moines and a visit to a greenhouse.

That's It!