A Day on the BN
in Southwest Iowa


Jan and I headed out on a rainy Monday morning to do some train watching along the BN. After listening to the forecast, we decided to head southwest, hoping to get out from under the rain and clouds. We didn't have much luck getting away from the rain, but we saw lots of trains!

We arrived in Creston just before 10:00, and found two coal empties waiting in line to change crews. Amtrak #6 was just arriving from the west behind ATK 358 and 308, about an hour and fifteen minutes late. (What's become of the GEnesis units?) On the westbound track, Oakway 9015 and BN 9275, 7237, 5081 waited for passengers to cross the tracks. Number six had a private car, #300, "Georgia", on the rear. Just as soon as Amtrak was in motion, a fresh crew started OWY 9015 and her string of DEEX empties westward.

Next into and out of the yard at Creston was a CEPX coal empty, which we'd seen standing under the highway 34 overpass on the way into town. BN 5506, 5021, and 5558 pulled up to the locker room, changed crews and passed the old depot at 10:26. At the east end of the yard, we found a coal load of AEPX cars waiting for a crew behind BN 5027, 5115, and 7218, and BN 2009 and EMD 267 putting a local together. We also saw BN 2967 idling near the depot.

We went west from Creston along highway 34, figuring that we would be able to pace the 5506 and catch some meets along the way. We left 34 and went down county road N-26 to catch it in Nodaway. On county road H-34, west of Nodaway, we saw 5506 meet a mixed freight pulled by LMX 756, ?? 301, CR 6269, and BN 2974 at 11:40. Neither Jan nor I were able to catch the road name on the dark blue, safety striped second unit (Probably MRL 301 - Thanks, Tim!). We stayed on county roads (Blue Highways) and caught up with 5506 again in Stanton.

At Red Oak, BN 2136 and caboose 12549 were standing at the depot while the crew went out for lunch. Down the hill from the depot, we found patriotically decorated caboose 12618 on a side track next to a small city park. 2136 pulled out to the west and we went after some lunch to eat by the depot. No more trains came by, so we went on to Glenwood. A coal load was just leaving Glenwood as we came into town at 1:30, but we missed the head end.

Once we reached Pacific Junction, the BN's last stop before leaving Iowa, we found our two empties, OWY 9015 and BN 5506, waiting for a westbound coming up the Napier line. "Westbound" on this line is geographically northbound until a train reaches Pacific Junction and comes around the wye to head across the Missouri River. At 2:06, KCS 742 and 739, along with OWY 9012, arrived with an empty coal train of SEPX and DLRX cars.

Under gradually clearing skies, we drove south along the Napier line. The Napier line is Track Warrant territory, and from the scanner, we learned of several trains headed "west" towards Pacific Junction. Just south of Payne, we intercepted LMX 8550 and a string of 108 empty grain hoppers.

Hamburg, Iowa is the last town before reaching the Missouri border on the Napier line, and we caught two coal empties there. At 3:14, BN 5019, 5120, 8168, and 5523 came around the curve under Interstate 29 and through town with WFCX and BN cars. We spent a few minutes exploring the right of way in Hamburg and then saw BN 9206 and OWY 9068 bring a solid string of KCLX cars by us at 3:51. The BN seemed Monday to be using the Napier line primarily as a westbound track for KC - Lincoln traffic.

We decided to start back toward home, so we drove up I-29 along the Napier line toward Pacific Junction, listening to the traffic on the scanner and passing the trains we'd seen go through Hamburg. Back at Pacific Junction, we found BN 5019 waiting on the wye to go into Nebraska. It had to wait on an eastbound BN coal train behind 7814, 5551, and 5592 that reached the junction at 4:41. We paced this train back to the east, catching it at the depot in Red Oak and at the H-34 overpass west of Nodaway.

In spite of our best efforts, we got to Villisca just a few minutes late to catch 491's train before it met 7814. 491 was by Villisca at 6:20. We got ahead of 7814 and passed another coal load before reaching Creston. At 7:17, we saw the nice new paint of BN 9472 and 9418 come by New York Avenue with AEPX coal loads.

A fund raiser ice cream social for a local park was being held in the old depot at Creston, so we made a contribution and ate our cake and home made ice cream outside by the tracks, watching 7814 pass once more before going on to Osceola. Passengers for the westbound California Zephyr were waiting as we caught 7814 again in front of the Osceola depot at 8:45. Amtrak #5, with 239 and 317, made a quick stop at Osceola from 9:23 to 9:28, and sped west.

That's it!