Two Osceolas, Iowa Falls and Ackley
July 24 - 29


Iowa's been having a heat wave through the last couple of weeks in July. Jan and I have gone to Osceola and "camped" in the park across from the depot a couple of mornings, just long enough to see No. 6 come through before retreating back into the air conditioning.

Saturday, July 24

Except for the skip on the scanner, it was a pretty quiet morning at the depot. It was amusing hearing the railroad transmissions come in from all over creation, though. Jan kept a list: St. Joe Line, Falls City, Bellevue, Oreapolis, Savannah, Prarie du Chien, Crawford, Shanley, Montrose, Northfield, Brookfield, Avon, etc. Although the dispatchers were complaining about the interference, some of the other personnel were "DX'ing" this morning, "Hey, I just talked to some guy in Nebraska!"

From the radio, we learned that a train had died on single track west of Creston, blocking Amtrak, and that the yard job was being sent out to retrieve the train. The only things eastbound were Junior Grade piloting a weedsprayer and a manifest that we heard getting a warrant at Albia around 10:25.

I went into the depot and visited with Pat Green about Amtrak's ETA. When I mentioned Junior Grade's approach she argued that he couldn't possibly be coming this far west, since "our" track inspector was sitting right there in the office. She knew about the stalled train west of Creston and said that the railroad had known about the problem "since 3:00 a.m."

The track inspector and the sprayer (out-sourced, apparently) arrived, got off the rails, and headed for Casey's. According to scanner conversations, they would be heading back east after No. 6.

Amtrak finally arrived at 11:37 with engines 29, 402 and 16. In the California Zephyr today:

Baggage 1172
Transition Sleeper 39018
Sleeping Cars 32068, 32109 and 32039
Dining Car 38019
Sightseer Lounge 33002
Coaches 31545 (Smoking) 34038, 34071 and 34086
Material Car 1416
Boxcars 71176, 71159, 70014, 71059 and 71113
Baggage 1736
Amtrak's engineer reported the stop to the dispatcher as "39 and 45".

We figured the westbound manifest, the "GALLIN", had to be getting pretty close by now. Before long, the detector east of Osceola at MP 356.7 announced them (526 axles) and they came by the depot at 12:28. On the head end were BNSF 4385 and SF 7443.

The temperature had already reached 90 degrees today, so we headed back north to Indianola.


Wednesday, July 28

I have a friend in California who is an engineer for the UP (formerly for the SP) who recently relocated from Dunsmuir to Roseville. He now sometimes sees No. 6 start its journey toward us, and on Monday he sent me an email saying that he'd seen a Cal-Train unit headed our way when he'd spotted the train in Davis.

Jan and I took off fairly early and went "around the block" on our way to Osceola, passing through Beech and Chariton on our way to Osceola. Amtrak wasn't running quite as late as usual today and was expected at Osceola at 10:00. We also knew of a westbound coal empty that was short on time and which was by MP 345 at 9:30, so we expected to see both trains at about the same time.

Unfortunately, J.R. Green, rather than Pat, was minding the depot this morning. This meant that I had to put up with some of his crabbiness when I crossed the tracks in front of the depot (using the crossing provided for Amtrak patrons). I suppose Amtrak's fortunate to have someone who actually cares, but J.R. can get a little annoying at times. Since I wasn't sure which train would arrive first on the double track, and didn't want to get caught on the "wrong" side, I walked west to the first public grade crossing where I could move back and forth without receiving a lecture from, "that curmudgeon", as one passenger described him.

The empty came through first, at 9:57, with OGSX cars behind BNSF 9965 and 9996. This train had apparently been delayed at the power plant near Chillecothe and had only a couple of hours left to get into Creston.

Amtrak was out of Creston at 9:28 and came into Osceola just after 10:00. There were four units on the head end, counting the Cal Train that we'd been told about on Monday. I think it was dead in consist. I drove to the head end for another picture of Cal Train 906 (the Burlingame) and a shot of AMTK 308 as well. In the Zephyr today:

Baggage Car 1163
Transition Sleeper 39040
Sleepers 32099, 32091 and 32038 (Two named - New Mexico and Minnesota)
Dining Car 38024
Sightseer Lounge 33014
Coaches 31520 (Smoking) 34026, 34066 and 34020
Material Car 1452
Boxcars 71055, ?? (Graffiti'd Over) ?? and 71179
Express Mail 1710
Another hot and humid day was upon us, so we headed north to Indianola. On the way I made one stop, to get a picture of an interesting sign that we'd passed many times between Osceola and New Virginia.


Thursday, July 29

Wednesday night we got a call from our youngest son, Aaron. He was in Waverly on RAGBRAI and his knees were just not going to take any more of the abuse that 75 to 100 miles of bike riding a day causes. We told him to expect us around noon on Thursday. As it turned out, Byron (No. 1 Son) only made one more day before his fork broke. His wife's on the way after him as I type this.

Jan and I got out of town around 7:30 and followed the UP Spine Line north out of Des Moines. We made an unscheduled pit stop at the elevator in Garden City so that Jan could use the facilities there. While she was inside I took advantage of the delay to get yet another picture of the fine little switcher belonging to the Prarieland Coop.

We stopped in Iowa Falls by Mills Tower. ICG caboose 199438 and the tower are fenced off and will hopefully someday be the object of a preservation effort of some kind (a railfan park, perhaps?). We noticed scaffolding on the old IC depot, where restoration work continues slowly.

From the scanner we knew that there was a southbound on the Spine Line, which we'd heard leaving Sheffield earlier (It was another "skip" day on the scanner, by the way). At 10:17 it appeared at the tower with SP 267 and UP units 6773, 3209 and 4138. They rolled very slowly around the curve south of the tower and onto the Iowa River bridge with a string of WPSX cars.

When we got to Ackley just before 11:00, we found the crossing lights blinking. To the east we could see a string of cars, so we drove out on the highway to look for the train's power. The east end of the train had no locos on it. We could hear the head end on the radio trying over and over to reach the dispatcher. Just as we were turning back toward town, we heard them say that they were "...on the ground". Sure enough, when we drove back in on Hwy. 20, there was a big, black engine stopped right in the middle of the road.

The rails had spread under IC 6103, dumping two wheels, one into the west flangeway of the grade crossing. The train had left its cars on the IC mainline and backed onto the "Ackley Sub" (former M & St. L, I believe) to switch Stokely's with IC 6103, 6001 and GT 5852. Now, however, the rear, engineer's side wheels of the front and the rear trucks were resting inside of the rail.

We figured that this mess would pretty well tie things up on the IC for a while, so we proceded directly to Waverly to pick up Aaron and have lunch. On the radio, we heard the train leaving Ackley at 1:05 and caught up with it again at 1:45 when we reached Iowa Falls on the way home. The crew had cut off and come into town, parking the power and one tank car by the old IC freight house. Across the road, fading CNW 4616 was parked by the UP (ex CNW, ex RI) yard.

We made another quick stop on the way home, in Nevada, to watch some light power come by westbound. The units were UP 1732 and CNW 4705. By 3:30, as we rolled south on I-35, the Jeep's thermometer was reading 102 degrees.

We got Aaron safely home, laundered and showered. However, we generated our own little "brown out" by trying to run the washer, dryer and central air at the same time when it was this warm. Around 8:00, I noticed that the A.C. wasn't keeping up and the house was gradually warming. With the extra load cut off, the A.C. managed to catch back up around midnight. I guess we've learned our "Peak Alert" lesson!

Just checked - it's 99 at 2:30 today. I sure hope we get some relief soon. It's been at least 90 here, with fairly high humidity, every day for couple of weeks.

That's It!