Pumpkin in Des Moines
July 25, 1997

I invited Jan along for a quick run to Hobby Haven so that I could get a replacement saw blade for my Xacto. We didn't plan on much train-watching, since Iowa was having another very steamy afternoon, with temperatures around 95 and very high humidity.

On the way to Des Moines, we heard IAIS dispatcher "Sam" sending UP detours westbound, so we made a side trip to Booneville. We were too late for CNW 8506, but I stopped to get a shot of a former-CNW crane, IAIS 95260, and boom car 9025.

Just after 11:00, on the way back toward Des Moines, we met a UP coal empty, of WEPX cars, behind UP 6615 and 6617. They were moving very slowly along the old Rock Island line.

After spending a little more time than I'd planned at the hobby shop, we got some lunch and then dropped by Short Line yard. When we arrived around 1:00, the UP had a southbound freight train blocking Dean Avenue that we thought was pulling around the northeast leg of the wye into the yard, but it soon began backing north into Hull Avenue yard instead. On the point were SSW 9695 and MPI 9041. The picture looks like a motorist is racing it to the crossing, but he's not, the train's backing up!

After looking around Short Line for a while, we drove out southeast to the old CB&Q yard. Here was a real surprise - a "Pumpkin"! Sitting at the south end of what is now called the NS Glake Yard was BNSF 1046, coupled to RG 5381. Someone had written "GE Junk" in the grime on 1046's fuel tank. It was interesting to see the two paint schemes, both of which look quite dated, together.

Last Wednesday morning I got a call from a railfan that I'd met only on the Internet. He was in our town on RAGBRAI - an annual bike ride across the state that attracts more than 10,000 cyclists. Steve Smartt, from Nashville, and I had corresponded by email about the train-watching opportunities on the bike ride, and he invited me out for a cup of coffee and so that his son could take our picture. This year's route, across southern Iowa, stopped in several towns along the BNSF mainline. I trust that Steve got lots of train-watching in on his trip.

That's It!