Fremont and Other Places
July 8 - 12, 1997

It's been a very busy week around here, but we've managed to get in some train-watching. I've been promising my granddaughter that I would take her to "NoCeLo" (her word for Osceola) to see trains with grandpa for several weeks. Tuesday evening, my daughter called and asked if this would be a good time. We called 1-800-USA-RAIL and found that No. 5 was on time, so we loaded up the family and made the 35 minute run south to Osceola.

We settled into the small park just across from the depot and played with the kids while we waited. My granddaughter checked out the giant concrete letters spelling OSCEOLA while her little brother munched on his favorite plastic key ring. The California Zephyr arrived just ahead of schedule and left right on the advertised. For the first time, I saw one of the new Amtrak boxcars. AMTK 70003 was the first one behind the occupied cars.

Wednesday morning, I rolled out early and drove to Audubon to pick up my son for a day of train-watching along the UP in western Iowa. We followed along the line west of Denison all the way to Fremont, NE. and back. We took some county roads in order to go through Arcadia, Westside and Vail, because Highway 30 is under reconstruction in the area. We caught our first train, a coal empty of CWEX gons behind UP 6653 and 6655, at 9:15 at West Denison.

The UP is rebuilding the double track that was removed by the CNW along this route between Missouri Valley and Boone. We saw a great deal of construction going on related to this project. In addition to the new rails, bridges are being replaced.

The route of the IC parallels the UP from Denison southwest toward Missouri Valley, and we saw an IC ballast regulator pass near UP bridge construction between Dunlap and Woodbine. At 9:45, an eastbound piggyback train with UP 9507 and 9537 passed by the bridge project.

Just a few minutes later, at Woodbine, we met an eastbound stacker with UP 9546, 9557 and CNW units 8545 and 6857. As we worked our way westward, we saw three more eastbounds, a coal load and a short freight train near Logan, and a NORX coal load on the new double track near Missouri Valley. This last train, at 10:10, had UP 6643 and CNW 8036 on the point.

After crossing the Missouri River, we stopped at 10:50 to watch a westbound piggyback train just outside of Blair. On the point were CNW 8504, UP 6178 and UP 3048.

A long string of Omaha, Lincoln and Beatrice, "The Big Red Line", ore cars was parked near the BNSF depot in Fremont. They appeared to be filled with sand. There were several railfans in the area on their way west to the UP Historical Society meeting in North Platte. UP 2012 was switching in the area, with BN 2934 and 2930 doing the same on the BNSF. We parked near the UP office and watched trains roll for a while:

11:10 Eastbound stacker, UP 5999, 6117 and 6307
11:20 Westbound - same train we'd seen east of Blair
11:26 Eastbound coal - UP 6763 and 7072
We went for some lunch, stopping by the Fremont and Elkhorn Valley to get a picture of switcher FEVR 1219.

Back near the depot, the parade continued:

12:37 Eastbound stacker - UP 9485, 9535, 3274 and 9443
12:53 Eastbound autos - UP 6310 and 3494
1:06 Eastbound K Line stacker - UP 3072, 9227, SP 8533, UP 3334 and 9474
1:20 Eastbound APL stacker - UP 9334, 9534, 9701, 9527 and 9734
Most of these trains were heading down toward Omaha.

We started back eastward, stopping to get a picture of a westbound freight waiting on the Omaha line with CNW 8507 and RG 5347. We met another westbound freight in Arlington at 1:46. Further down the line, at 2:41 near Logan, we found a westbound empty with CWEX cars and UP 8109 and CNW 8585 on the point.

In the town of Woodbine, at 3:00, I just made it to the tracks in time to get a picture of the next coal empty. This train had ETRX cars behind two UP units, 8048 and 8082. Just a few minutes behind the coal empty was a stacker with CNW 8622, UP 9732 and UP 9723 in charge.

Our last train of the day was a ribbon rail train working just west of West Denison with UP 3085 and 405. We watched the rail being dropped onto the ballast for a while before heading back toward Audubon.

On Thursday, Jan and I made a very quick run to northeast Iowa, with a brief stop in Dubuque, and then on into Wisconsin to visit some friends. Our schedule didn't permit any train-watching on the way up, but we did take the Great River Road (35) in Wisconsin between Genoa and Prarie du Chien on the way back.

This is a beautiful run, with the BNSF mains between the road and the river. We met a number of north(west)bound BN trains. We stopped at Lock and Dam #9 to watch a barge come through. Just behind us, a CN freight went by, easily visible from the Corps of Engineers observation platform. We'll have to return to this spot when we have more time.

Over the weekend we had houseguests from Japan to entertain, so we decided to take them to the Boone and Scenic Valley for a train ride on Saturday. On this particular weekend, the city of Boone was hosting a municipal band festival and we found one entertaining the crowd in front of the depot when we arrived. The BSV Chinese steam engine was taking on water. Before long, it ran around the train and we boarded an ex-RI coach for our ride into the Des Moines River valley.

The BSV decends 200 feet on its run down to Fraser Switch. On this day, our trip featured some rather rough train-handling (student engineer??). Shortly after we started back up the hill things smoothed out considerably. At Fraser Switch, the run we were on met the new Wolf Train, with an air-conditioned SP observation car. With a heat index over 100, it was a very warm afternoon in our old coach.

After the Wolf train had departed for Boone, our loco took the siding and ran around to couple to the other end of the train.

That's It!