July 18, 1997

We've been kept indoors by 100+ heat indices the last few days, but cabin fever finally drove us to brave the elements and take a picnic lunch to Osceola. Earlier in the day, I'd heard the MoW people say that the "Super Chief" was not expected to be out of Creston before 13:00, so we left for Osceola around 11:15, figuring to see a few freight trains along with Amtrak. I took a break from laboring on the Plywood Pacific and helped pack the cooler.

It was 87 degrees when we reached the small park across from the depot, but on a blanket in the shade it was quite tolerable. We heard the detector go off for the north track just as we arrived. Track flags were posted on the westbound just east of the depot, so the train approached very slowly, arriving right at noon. It turned out to be a coal empty, of CEPX gons, behind MACs BN 9443 and BNSF 9789.

Work on a new platform for Amtrak passengers is continuing very slowly. The elevated platform east of the depot on the south side of the tracks is complete and the "B and N", as the ATK depot keeper calls them, has ordered everyone to stay off the area in front of the depot while they remove the bricks.

I visited with a gentleman from Des Moines who'd decided to "try the train" instead of driving into Chicago for the weekend. He'd received a call the previous evening telling him that his train would be four hours late, so at least he'd not been hanging around Osceola since 9:00 in the morning as we worried.

While we stood in the small triangle of shade that was not off limits due to the non-construction going on (the ATK help had chased us off the old bricks), two more trains came by. The first was an eastbound coal load with BN 5583, 5109 and 7251, and AEPX cars. Before they cleared the depot, the train formerly known as 65 had pulled up on the westbound and stopped at the track flag.

A section man raced up and trotted across the tracks to pull the track flag out of the ballast so that the intermodal hotshot could continue westward (oops!) They were rolling again at 1:40. On 65 today were BN 7849, cabless 4034 and 7066.

At 2:17, yet another freight came through ahead of Amtrak. On the point were BN 8023, 5553 and 1422. Arrangements were made with a section man to cross the California Zephyr over to the westbound just east of Osceola, so that they could get around the traffic on the eastbound.

The Zephyr finally appeared at 2:50, more than five hours down. There were three new GEnesis units in charge, 99, 49 and 90. They made their stop beside the new platform and were on their way again in three minutes. In today's train:

Baggage 1265
Transition Sleeper 39030
Coach 34055
Coach 34010
Coach 34034
Coach 31508 (Smoking)
Sightseer Lounge 33041
Dining Car 38016
Sleeping Car 32094 "Montana"
Sleeping Car 32070 "Alabama"
Sleeping Car 32007
Express Baggage 1714
Express Baggage 1206
That's It!