June 23 and June 27
We went east on Hwy. 92 and found a southbound manifest waiting on the main at Beech at 6:30. The lead unit was CNW 8698. In Melcher, at 6:50, we met the northbound they were waiting for. This was another manifest behind UP 6105, another UP unit and two UP switchers. I hopped out into the rain briefly to get a picture.
Things were fairly quiet on the BNSF as we headed east along Hwy. 34. At Ottumwa we found an eastbound, 232, in the IMRL yard behind units 204 and 210. The BN had a coal load, led by 9515, waiting to come around the connection and into the IMRL yard. On the radio, the BNSF dispatcher, "KRS" noted that the IMRL was having trouble running their train today. He let a westbound go through the diamond at 8:30. This train, a coal empty with CEPX cars, had BNSF 9954 and BN 9750 on the point.
Around 8:45 the IMRL finally got 232 moving. NREX 2025 (ex-IC), here pedaling furiously, was on the front to help 210 and 204 up the hill. We decided not to wait on the BN train, instructed to say on their delay sheet, "IMRL refused train", to come around the corner.
I made a quick stop at the west edge of Burlington to get a picture of BJRY 9, parked just south of the highway. As we entered the town, we met BN 6803 and SF 7420, the "GALCRI" at 10:20. BJRY 701 was switching down near the waterfront. We could see an eastbound manifest, BN 5552, waiting to use the drawbridge as we crossed the Missippi around 10:30.
We made a phone call to Aaron, who was to meet us in Galesburg, to tell him that we'd not quite make our original 11:00 meet at the Amtrak station. He was just driving into town on Seminary street. We stopped once more on the way in, at the old Santa Fe tracks east of Cameron. We met BNSF 1023 and 6970 on a manifest. This train took the wye and turned back into the west end of the Galesburg yard.
We went over the yard on the overpass, but couldn't see anything of 1522. After waiting for a while on an old SD switching in front of the depot (BN 6234) we met up with Aaron in the parking lot. We went into the Amtrak station to check on their trains. No. 4 would be about an hour late and No. 6 was very late, not expected until 3:45 (it turned out to be 4:30).
The passenger excursion, originally to be powered by 1522, was scheduled back from Quincy at 3:00, but appeared at 12:30 behind LMX 8532. Harry Grossman, Director of the Train Show at Carl Sandburg College, spotted me on the platform and we were greeted warmly as he and a number of other luminaries involved in Railroad Days detrained. The cars from the excursion train, BNSF Rollins Pass, Mountain View and Lake Superior, were set out on the one remaining spur west of the depot.
At 1:17, an eastbound manifest came through on the old BN line with BN 7854 and BNSF 6359.
The eastbound Southwest Chief arrived at 1:28. In the train today:
We headed back north toward town on the west side of the engine service area to see if we could get a look at 1522. We found an industrial property marked "For Sale" that we thought we'd better inspect closely, so we drove to the back of the property line for a picture of the steamer. About the same time we ran into another hometown railfan, and he asked if we'd seen the rail grinder in town. He led us back to a track connecting the BN and SF lines, where the grinder, LORAM RG 311, was just starting to pull east and then south into the yard area.
After spending some time looking around, we decided to head to the Cameron connection to see if we could catch any trains out there. We'd gone a mile or two west when we heard 1522 getting a warrant to go out to Yates City, southeast of Galesburg on the Peoria line. We turned around and went back into town and to the Knox Wye. We found the grinder working on one side of the wye, going back and forth while we waited for the steam engine to appear.
1522's crew decided they did not want to turn the train on the wye at Yates City, so they pulled the train northeast and then backed down the north leg and out of town in reverse. Although this was somewhat sub-optimal from our point of view, at least we got to see the engine in use. We drove out east of town a short distance but decided not to follow the train, which was moving very slowly, all the way to Yates City and back. Here are a few images:
On our way back to Burlington we spotted a couple of eastbounds. A coal load was going through Biggsville at 5:30, and we saw a manifest at 5:42 near Gulfport.
In Burlington, 447's train, with BNSF 4987 and BN 8091, was sitting at the west end of the yard getting ready to leave town. Another JE load came down the hill at 6:15 behind BN 9436 and 9660. 447's crew convinced the dispatcher that they didn't need to wait on an empty coming off of the K-Line, "There's a load going by now, they'll never see us.", and they were off up the hill.
The empty crossed over to the westbound and pulled in for its crew change, stopping beside yard engine BN 2296. At 6:34 they were rounding the curve by the "H TEL BURLIN T" with WFAX cars behind BN 9637 and 9465.
On the way out of Burlington I stopped to get a picture of "Tommy's Caboose", which we've passed many times and just never taken the time to photograph. This (former Santa Fe?) caboose sits right in front of the Burlington Bees ballpark.
We paced the 9637 back west, stopping west of Lockridge and again at Ottumwa, around 8:15, to see it go through. In Ottumwa, train 664 had run into problems with its power and had swapped for BN 2966, which they would be operating long hood first.
We went to the Ottumwa depot/museum for Amtrak No. 5. They arrived at 8:30 with:
Nearing Danville, at 8:30, a westbound manifest emerged from the fog with BNSF 4758. I pulled over just long enough to get a picture.
I got to Galesburg at 9:30 and headed for the depot area to see what was on display this year. I picked up a t-shirt for myself and a friend and had a good visit with the people from the signal department.
On the single remaining stub track in front of the depot, two units from the Monticello Railway Museum and a heavyweight IC observation car (No. 7) were on display. The engines were EMD and Alco F-units, Wabash 1189 and CN 6789. Both were open for inspection by the public, including the engine compartments. I checked out the cab of the Alco. If you ever operate this unit, be sure to mind the speed limit (MPH? Odd, I'd always blamed the French for the metric system...).
I got pictures of the prime movers of both the Alco and EMD. The EMD engine room doubles as a relief station. Very private, just you and your diesel - don't forget to hit the foot pedal before going back to work.
Also on display, using one of the BNSF mains, were a set of Trough Train articulated coal cars, BNSF 4842 (open to visitors), and of course 1522, coupled to baggage cars Black Gold and Firefly. The engine was kept hot, and plenty of Saint Louis Steam Train Association personnel were on hand. Visitors were allowed to look in the cab, but not pass through it.
Just after 10:00 an eastbound stack train, led by SSW 9634, came by 1522. If you wanted a picture of the enginer's side of the steam loco, you'll have to wait for another time, it was blocked by some nasty plastic fencing. It's really unfortunate that the main now has to be used for display purposes.
After the above quick tour of the depot area, I headed out to Carl Sandburg College for the Train Show. Just inside the door and to the right, the Great River Railway Club had their HO modular layout going. Trains were circling smoothly thorugh some nicely detailed landscape and buildings. Noticably absent this year - BNSF dispatcher "KRS", who was minding the prototype Ottumwa subdivision this morning.
In the gym, in addition to the legion of vendors, the large N-scale layout of the Heritage N-Trak club was set up and operating. I got a picture of a RI-powered train and of the layout's roundhouse.
While comparison-shopping for a P2K Rock Island E6, I stopped and frequently to get images of layouts and model-makers' work. In out of the weather this year was Ted Young and his collection of large-scale scratch-built models. Nearby, Josh Enck had set up his model of a CB&Q caboose, built directly from the prototype plans.
Another interesting model that had been at RR Days before was in a more hospitable location this year. Skip Riley and Roger Taylor had their HO car ferry on display. Skip obligingly displayed the three different levels of the model for me, the exterior, the cabins, and the railroad cars.
Tucked away, almost unnoticable, in the front of an auditorium I found the Thunder Road Hobbies N-scale layout. Thunder Road's in Moline, Illinois. It was from this shop that I ended up buying my E6.
Upstairs, I stopped for a few more layouts. Don Foster, from Morrison, Illinois, had an N-scale layout running in one of the classrooms. The N-Trak folks from Bloomington-Normal had a large modular outfit going and were running a very long train. "How many cars?", I asked, but they'd not counted and the train separated at that very moment, requiring the crew to call out an 0-5-0 switcher.
Across the hall an email aquaintance, Bill Selleck from Michigan, and friends were running their modular N-scale layout. I asked, "Whose layout is this and where are you from?" The answer was, "It's ours...say, are you Dick Tinder?". I talked Bill into posing for a picture before I headed on to the next display.
The last stop on my Train Show tour was at the display of Howard Bixler. Bixler has created a radio-contolled CB&Q steam engine in O-scale. The loco is an amazing piece of work. Not only does it smoke, but the smoke puffs in time with the motion of the engine. It also has working brakes and reversing valve gear, an operating bell, and an engineer who moves the controls. All of this action is coordinated with a sound system as well.
I left the train show and picked up some fast food to take to Cameron so that I could work in a little train-watching with lunch. I just missed the Southwest Chief arriving fairly close to schedule. On the radio, I heard that the California Zephyr would be at least three hours late today. Just as I arrived in Cameron at 12:30, an eastbound manifest came through with BN 2817 on the point, followed by a BNSF (renumbered) switcher and an ATSF unit. Fifteen minutes later a coal empty left the connection and headed under the Santa Fe bridge. The JE hoppers were pulled by BNSF 9978, 9724 and BN 9619.
Another railfan, from Columbus, Ohio, was making videotape of trains on both the BN and SF lines. We talked for a while about what a hot afternoon it was and concluded that Cameron needs a "Railfan Park" like the one at Rochelle! At 1:15 we caught a piggyback train westbound on the Santa Fe flyover.
I took off for Burlington, passing 9978 and meeting a couple of other trains along the way. A load was going through Monmouth about the same time as 9978, and I spotted an eastbound manifest behind it near Kirkwood.
Several passengers were waiting (and had been since 11:00) on No. 6 at Burlington when I arrived. They'd been told that the train would be there between 2:30 and 2:45. It was a hot and humid afternoon and the depot is not air-conditioned, so most just sat in the shade on the east side of the building. There were occasional diversions, like this critter eastbound on the passenger platform. Just after 2:00, 9978 crossed the Mississippi bridge and came through in front of the Burlington depot.
The Zephyr finally appeared at 3:20 with this consist:
I picked up a snack and went to Halpin, the west end of the CTC at Albia, to have what passed for supper on this trip. A little after 6:00, a coal empty came through with BNSF 9868 and BN 9435 in charge of new-looking MARX gondolas. I got a look at the build date down the road a bit, 5-99. 9868's horns echoed nicely across the flats west of the Halpin crossovers.
I caught up to 9868 just as it was entering Chariton. From the Russell detector and some "Okay on..." messages, it sounded as if there were several eastbounds in the woods. I got well ahead of the train as it went through town and then I stopped and waited at the bottom of Whitebreast Hill. At 6:45 they came by me again and rushed west past the station sign at Shannon.