Drew Cannon and I took off for Osceola around 8:30 on Thursday. We'd planned an eight o'clock departure in order to be sure to catch Amtrak, but Drew was running a bit late. As it turned out, that didn't matter because the Zephyr was somewhat tardy, too.
An excursion or two back I commented that the BNSF has been painting almost everything in reach in a bright safety yellow, including the floor area swept by doors. I remembered today to get a picture - sort of startled the gentleman coming out of the toilet, though! There's another example of the yellow paint application near the end of this excursion. I wonder what TEX KT, who autographed the Osceola men's room some time ago, would think of this business?
Engines BN 1535 and BNSF 2411 were tied up on the old branch line north of the depot. They were to be the power for a tie train today.
We heard on the radio that Amtrak was out of Creston at 9:20, and they
arrived in Osceola at 9:49. As I lined up my
picture, I heard "HEY!" shouted loudly back behind
me. It was good old J.R. Greene yelling
at us for stepping on his platform or some equally serious infraction.
In the Zephyr today:
ATK 13 and 53They reported their stop as ":51 and :54" today.
Transition Sleeper 39032
Coaches 34033, 34048 and 31519
Sightseer Lounge 33002
Sleeping Cars 32050, 32106 (Pennsylvania) and 32007
Material Car 1567
Six more Boxcars, and no Roadrailers
Around 10:30 the tie train was assembled up around the curve north of the depot. There seemed to be quite a bit of "Maintenance in the Way" activity today. A rail grinder was waiting on the westbound to the east of the depot and a Herzog ballast train was also already at work out on the line. A BN/BNSF coal empty that had been waiting on Amtrak at Woodburn crossed over to Main 2 and came through with BNSF 8961 and 8877.
The tie train came out next and loaded up personnel before taking the westbound main. This train was equipped with tractors that "walk" the top of gondolas.
Next to come down the westbound main was a Loram railgrinder, RG 311. They used their P.A. system to greet us railfans, "Hi, how are you? We're fine up here today!" as they passed the depot and started west past the Hwy. 69 grade crossing. On the radio we heard that their assignment was to grind all the curves and all the new rail. The rear of the grinder carried men with hoses to put out any brush or tie fires started by the grinder.
We drove around to the west and waited for the grinder at the "Pizza Hut" crossing. As they came around the curve, the P.A. system announced that we should "Step back farther from the tracks." In operation, the grinder is a pretty impressive sight, with sparks below and smoke above. A man working aboard the grinder looked like someone in blackface from an old-time minstrel show. The hosers on the back had discarded their cigarettes and were keeping a sharp lookout, squirting things as they passed us - I wondered if they weren't tempted to let railfans have it now and then.
Drew and I headed west out of town on Hwy. 34 and meandered toward Creston. We went into Murray and took some gravel roads on the way over to check out some overpasses and other photo-locations.
We got to Creston just after noon and found three coal loads parked at the east end of the Creston yard. South to north (left to right in the picture) these were, BN 9627 and 9582 with GEAX cars, BN 9568 and 9603 with NCUX cars and BN 9443 and BNSF 9841 with MPWX loads. Another load was parked at the far west end of the yard. This was a DP AEPX train with BNSF 8958 on the head end.
At 12:27, the empty we'd seen at Osceola pulled and headed out on the Nebraska subdivision. The mains were taken over next by BNSF 2578, which did some switching on Main 1, tying up the west end of the yard. A crew was put on 8958 while another load waiting out west of town announced that they were going to run out of time before they could make it into the yard.
Just after 2:00, 8958 began notching out. We listened and waited while the loco revved up, but the train did not move. Eventually, they got the cars in motion, but it was obviously a very hard pull and they ground past us with the big MAC shaking and the sanders blowing. It was obvious from the sight and sounds a few carlengths later that they were dragging some loads with the brakes on. The rear unit, BNSF 9833, came under the signal bridge and roared slowly past us at 2:22. A minute or two later we heard someone at the east end of the yard call the train and inform them that they had a dozen cars near the head end with the brakes on. They replied that they'd found 20 cars tied down and had released them all. The next load pulled up to the signal bridge and tied up at 2:28. This train had BN 9602 and 9757 on the point.
We decided to start back toward Osceola, but stopped for a picture of some power in the yard, BN 2700 and BNSF 2330.
Back at Osceola we encountered the Herzog ballast train working on Main 2. They had BN 9257 and BNFS 6708 on the point, and had about 45 cars in their train. The ballast train was dumping in front of the depot, where some ballast is definitely needed. The train has a generator and receiver system mid-train. Workers walk along side the train with radio remote-controls that allow a particular car and door to be selected and controlled.
Trains had been waiting at Woodburn for Main 1 to open up, and we caught two of them as they came through Osceola. The first, at 4:06, was a GEAX empty with BN 9675 and 9673. The second, right behind at 4:16, had BNSF 9913 and 9911 pulling new (4-00) pink OGSX cars.
I'll close this excursion with one more picture of the yellow paint application, this time to assorted poles and posts just west of the Osceola depot. You'll note that it's not necessary to unwind the extension cord to get an effective application of safety paint, nor need it be applied to something actually hazardous like the steel posts lying nearby. The gentleman between the poles, by the way, appeared to be waxing the company truck. I'm not making this up.