Osceola for Amtrak

Saturday, July 13



I decided to take a morning for a short train watching trip Saturday.  We had a clear morning with the temperature in the upper 60's and near 90 forecast again for the afternoon.  Amtrak's "Julie" said that train No. 6 was expected to arrive in Osceola at 11:55.  I knew that my friend Rich Fertig had relieved the westbound engineer on Friday night and would be dead-heading back from Lincoln this morning.  On the scanner at home I heard a westbound coming through Albia at 7:26.  As I was leaving town at 7:40 I heard another westbound, BNSF 5339, getting a warrant there as well.  There were two trains that I should be able to intercept this morning.

While on the drive down to Osceola I heard a couple of eastbounds get by me as they hit the detectors at Osceola and Russell.  It sounded like there would be work on the rails of the south grade at Albia and that pushers would be in use to take trains up the north way.  As I was nearing Osceola on Hwy. 69, another eastbound, BN 9698, called the K.C. desk dispatcher to let him know that they'd encountered rough track at the west ends of a couple of bridges on Main 2.  They were by MP 370 at 8:07, just ten miles out of town, so I decided to take a gravel road south to the nearest grade crossing, Eisenhower Road.

The eastbound arrived at 8:30, WFAX hoppers pulled by BN 9698 and 9693.  The detector just east of my photo location reported them at 472 axles.  I knew that the first of the two westbounds I'd heard about earlier would be getting pretty close, and as I drove to the depot I heard the detector count 512 axles on Main 1.  The westbound had BNSF 9519, repainted 9462, one autorack and a set of DEEX gondolas.

It was less than 15 minutes before the second westbound arrived.  This 118-car DTCX empty had some GE power, BNSF 5339 and 1025 - rare on coal trains along this line - along with BN 9225.

At this point there was some time to kill before another train would be by Osceola.  A track inspector set his highrailer onto Main 2 and went east out of town.  I parked in the shade of the "park" north of the depot and worked on the Des Moines Register's crossword puzzle.  I knew from the warrants being given on the radio that there was another eastbound train (BN 9200) on the way, so around 10:00 I drove out to a location west of town to intercept it.

This coal train came into sight at 10:14.  I took several pictures as the DTCX load approached and came into the curve.  On the point were BN 9200, EMD 9093 and BNSF 9235.  The engineer waved as the train passed my location and rolled toward Osceola.  I started back toward town and noticed that they were slowing considerably as they came across the I-35.  I passed the head end and caught them again at a grade crossing - BN 9200, EMD 9093 and BNSF 9235.  Since they were moving so slowly, I decided to see if I could get them again at the Hwy. 34 overpass east of town.  Traffic wasn't too bad and I got a green light at the Hwy. 69 junction.  I had time to cross the overpass, turn around and get this shot of the train, now back up to track speed, at 10:26.

A long break followed waiting for the Zephyr to arrive.  I had time to finish the Saturday puzzle and visit with depot attendant Pat Greene for a bit.  The dispatcher had a couple of coal loads to follow Amtrak, called for 11:30 and 11:45, so I knew that if I cared to stick around after the passenger train, there'd be some traffic.  It also sounded like No. 6 would be running left-handed all the way from Creston to Albia, and that the coal trains would be crossing over as well, but not until they reached Chariton.

The California Zephyr reported its stop at Creston as ":28 and 31", and came into Osceola at 11:56, three hours and twenty minutes down from its schedule.  This wasn't too bad compared to the last few days (7-16, 7-17) when it's been running ten to eleven hours late!  I got a few shots as the train approached the depot and read the consist into my tape recorder:

AMTK 91, 148 and 123
Baggage 1249
Sleepers 32057 (dba crew dormitory), 32069 and 32005
Diner 38036
Sightseer Lounge 33011
Coaches 31531, 34020, 34080 and 34027
One boxcar, Material 1433, Five Expresstrak, two more boxcars and seven roadrailers

My friend Rich Fertig was dead-heading back from running No. 5 on Friday night.  Rich and I visited for a minute after the train departed and before he headed home.

I hung around for one more train after Amtrak and then decided that it was getting too warm to wait for another.  The last train of the day was a 512-axle distributed power OGSX load, in at 12:37.  In front was BNSF 9886 and trailing, BNSF 8965.

That's It!