Each year the Moravia Historical Society, in cooperation with the Appenoose County Railroad, puts on a weekend of train rides as a fund raiser for the society. I've ridden before when the ride went south from Moravia to out east of Centerville and back. This year and last the run has been to Albia instead and I was looking forward to seeing this part of the line.
I invited a neighbor, Joan Overton, along for the trip. Joan's an antique collector and I knew she'd love seeing the museum that the society has set up in the old Wabash depot. We had tickets for 1:00 p.m. on Saturday.
On the trip down, near Albia, I learned from the radio of a coal empty out of ISU leaving Maxon, so we went onto a gravel road that goes between the two mainline routes and waited. The train appeared at 10:25 with BNSF 8966 and 9920, and bright pink OGSX cars.
We visited the Albia depot area and found BNSF 2236 and 8734. These engines would be in work train service on Sunday.
We heard horns and bells and investigated. This turned out to be an earlier run of the APNC passenger train. Ex-MKT APNC 116 had already run around to the south end of the cars and was headed back to Moravia at 11:15 when we arrived at the APNC yard area.
It was clouding up when we reached the museum in Moravia and it did sprinkle a little bit of rain over the lunch hour. The depot interior is filled with items of historical interest, some related directly to area railroading, but much just related to the history of the local environs. One thing new to me this year was the Fair View Church, which as been brought onto the site and very nicely restored. Across the tracks and road from the Wabash depot sits an old Southern Iowa Railway depot.
The train we'd seen in Albia pulled in (pushed, actually since the run-around is done before the passengers get off the train) at 11:55. It was time for the crew to take a lunch break before the 1:00 p.m. run north again. This time also provided opportunities for young and old to inspect the APNC chop-nose GeeP. Naturally, APNC field support was on hand, but while we were there everything went smoothly.
Got Steam? The excursion cars have the lines for it! They were once were owned by the Southern RR and used with steam locos. This type of open-air car is shunned by most tourist lines in order to keep their liability insurance affordable.
As the line formed for the 1:00 departure Joan and I were at the front and conductor Dick Hovey let us have first choice of seats. The short hood of 116 was toward the cars northbound, and I recommended getting as far as possible from the horns. I'd not done so on a previous outing and had learned the hard way how painful the loud blasts could be. In fact, this time I brought ear-plugs, but found that I didn't need them. The cars were not completely filled and we each grabbed a bench at the rear of the "observation car". Here are some sights along the way:
Approach semaphore protecting the IMRL (ex-CP,
SOO, MILW) crossing southwest of Moravia
Looking two cars forward toward APNC 116 and the horns
APNC right of way - CWR with short bolted-in repairs here and there
APNC right of way - curve
Highway 34 grade crossing at Albia
BNSF bridge over Main 2, the "South Way"
We reached the APNC Albia yard at 1:30. The brakeman dropped off to handle the south switch so that 116 could run around its train. 116 came by on the east side of the train, the switch was thrown and they backed toward us. The joint was made at 1:40 and we were soon rolling south toward Moravia.
Going this direction, Joan and I had an up-close relationship with APNC 116. With the open cars, however, you never felt like you couldn't see what was ahead. Once we were clear of the Albia area, we seemed to make pretty good time - a thoroughly pleasant experience on the cool, sunny afternoon.
We stopped for 116 to cut off and make the run-around at Moravia at 2:11. Under the watchful eye of our conductor, the cars were spotted and our ride was over right on schedule at 2:20.