Assorted July

Pleasantville Grade Crossing

Ottumwa Amtrak

Sunday, July 6, 6:15 P.M.

The WQMDMO has had some problems trying to reach Des Moines.  One engine had a fire and was left behind before tackling the branchline, and a second has gone down on the way.  With too much train to drag out of the Whitebreast Creek valley, the DMO is doubling to the Hawkeye siding at Pleasantville.  Susan and I caught them as they took the first cut to the west end of the siding and started back for the rest of the train.  Dead BNSF 2866 is in control with what will be the leader into Des Moines, BNSF 838, behind.

Wednesday, July 16, 11:00 A.M.

A couple of years ago, the BNSF laid out some panel rail destined to be used in the repair of what had to be one of Iowa's most poorly maintained grade crossings.  I was pleasantly surprised Wednesday morning to find that they had at last started to work on the crossing.  When I asked how long the sections of rail had been lying in the ditch, one of the workers pointed out that they were dated 2006.  A hi-rail equipped truck was ripping out what remained of the timbers as the rail was prepared.  Traffic on the branch line continued and the crossing work had to stop for a train later in the day.

Thursday, July 17, Amtrak and Family at Ottumwa
Byron and Tammy had decided to give my grandson Blake an Amtrak ride and were planning on catching the Zephyr at Creston to ride to Ottumwa and back.  I had a radio reading gig in Des Moines from 9:00 to 10:30 and then planned to drive to Ottumwa and meet them.  My drive down Hwy. 163 and 63 went pretty quickly, Amtrak was a bit behind schedule, and I managed to beat the passenger train to the Ottumwa depot by a few minutes.

Amtrak was on Main 1 as it approached the depot at 12:38.  In the consist today:

AMTK 45 and 94, Elephant-style
Baggage 1712
Crew Sleeper 39024
Sleeping Cars 32032 and 32044
Diner 38050
Sightseer Lounge 33035
Coaches 34097, 34000 and 34008
Sleeper 32047
Private Varnish "Sierra Hotel", 800275

After greeting the family, Byron headed in to pay for their reservations for the return trip and I walked to the rear for pictures of the PV.  I'm guessing that the trailing sleeper in the Amtrak consist was part of the Sierra Hotel entourage.  You can check out information on this dome car at  The Sierra Hotel is a rebuilt lounge car, originally CB&Q 251 Silver Lounge.  The observation platform was added to the short end of the car when it was refurbished for private service.

Naturally there was plenty of coal train traffic in Ottumwa.  We were away from the tracks much of the afternoon, but did manage to catch a load and empty meeting at the depot around 4:30.  The "NRG" load passed behind the empty on the near track.  The empty had BNSF 9987 and 5725 on the point and BNSF 9380 behind.  I was only able to get the rear unit on the load, BNSF 9979.

Monday, July 21

We've been detouring around the grade crossing repair since Wednesday, and I decided on Monday morning to see how the work was going.  I knew that a Des Moines bound train had died on the law and found the head end, BNSF 8610, sitting just east of the repair work.  After taking a couple of images of the nearly repaired grade crossing, I noticed something odd.  They'd put prefab concrete pads on about two thirds of the road, and finished up with timbers.  One of the workers saw me taking pictures and came over to visit.  He said, "I just wanted to make sure you knew that the timbers were temporary, before we see the pictures in the newspaper."  He also said that the remaining gap between the paving and the pads was to be filled with asphalt.  Apparently, someone had some trouble measuring the road?

Tuesday, July 22

A check of the grade crossing work revealed that the gap has been (temporarily, I trust) filled with gravel.  What Ever.

That's It!