Fort Dodge
July 31, 1997


Last weekend, I volunteered to run and errand for my son, knowing that I could work in some train-watching along the way. So, Jan and I took off Thursday morning in the general direction of Fort Dodge and the Illinois Central Railroad. I can't say that we had very good luck finding trains, but it was a beautiful day and we did see plenty of interesting stuff.

I decided to follow the UP "Spine Line" to the north went by Short Line Yard in Des Moines first. There, UP 3582 and RG 5360 were turning on the wye at Dean Avenue. Apparently, the RG unit was going to lead a train out of the yard later in the morning. North of Short Line, at the Hull Avenue Yard, we found UP 3700, 3446 and B4216 on a train that had just arrived from the north.

It was an unusually quiet morning on the UP. We drove all the way to Buckeye before encountering another train. There, grain hoppers were being pulled from the elevator. At 10:45, UP 6755, 7073 and 9175 headed out of the siding and south toward the junction with the east/west mainlines.

By 11:30, we were in Iowa Falls, where I'd planned to turn west and follow the I.C. to Fort Dodge. The crew of the UP's Iowa Falls switcher had just finished their work and parked their loco, CNW 4702, for the day. We drove down the steep hill behind the UP office and into the valley of the Iowa River. Here, over a dam in the river, both UP (ex-CNW, ex-RI) and IC lines cross the river on girder bridges.

We picnic'd in a park south of the bridges where we could keep both mains in sight. Before we left Iowa Falls, I stopped to take a picture of the old IC depot, which is being refurbished.

We made it as far west as Webster City before we found an IC train. A local, with four cars, was switching in town. I turned around and drove back out east of town to catch them running eastward at 12.45. On the point were 1788, still in ICG orange and white, and IC 8406.

In Fort Dodge, we had a look around the IC yard and depot area. IC 8260 was switching in front of the depot while several road units assembled some covered hoppers to the south. They got their train together and came by the depot westbound at 2:15. The four black IC units on the train were 9635, 9564, 9560 and 9610. The interesting IC depot still carries advertising indicating that the IC has land for sale.

Below and to the west of the yard are the IC engine service facilities and an intermodal crane. We found IC 8402 at the far end of the fueling track. There is still a turntable in operation at Fort Dodge. Before we left town, I got a picture of the UP's bridge that spans the IC line and the river valley through the west side of the city.

Rather than heading directly back toward home, we went on to the west. Just outside of Fort Dodge on the UP line, we stopped to check out an old switcher being used by the PCS Potash facility. The unit carried the number 1222 on it's headlight.

Using "blue highways", we followed the IC line west, checking out each little town along the route. We stopped in Yetter where a "critter", marked "Beaver, Iowa", was moving grain hoppers into position to be loaded. Cuts of three cars were being loaded and pushed down to the end of the siding. We heard the IC dispatcher giving a warrant to an eastbound just a few miles away from us, and waited for it to show up. At 4:20 IC 9603, 9573, 9615, and bright red CCP 2009 came blasting through the tiny community. Shortly afterward, the critter returned for its next cut of hoppers. Yetter has an interesting wooden bridge just west of the elevator area. It is no longer connected to any roads, but may be in use by a local property owner to access a corn field.

After planning the trip to Fort Dodge I'd received, just coincidentally, an email message about a restored depot in Breda. Since the town wasn't far, we'd decided to check it out. The depot was not open to visitors this afternoon, but I took a picture of some of the items on display inside through the window. Interestingly, they had a "TEX K.C." carving on display very similar to the one on the back of the men's room door at Osceola! The depot is on an abandoned branch leaving the old CNW mains at Maple River Jct. The right of way has been transformed into the Sauk Bluebird Trail. A sign by the Breda depot encourages readers to purchase a trail user's permit.

We followed the UP back across highway 30 from Carroll, but saw no trains. At Scranton, we cut back south to Bayard on highway 25. Bayard is at the east end of a BNSF branch running up from Council Bluffs. This route was once part of the MILW's mainline across Iowa. At Bayard we encountered two more "critters". Just southeast of the railroad overpass, I found a rusting machine lettered Y 002. I couldn't tell if it were in operating condition, but it appeared to have had some new hoses and wiring installed. A second small loco, a blue and white Plymouth switcher lettered "Mid-Iowa Coop, Bayard-Yale", was parked near the elevator.

We drove on down to the IAIS near Casey and followed that line to the east, stopping for supper in Stuart. In Earlham, I drove downtown to get a picture of the now-idle depot that onced served the IAIS's "Madison County Zephyr". At Booneville, just west of I-35, we found a shut-down ballast train sitting in the siding. On the point were IAIS 628 and 407. The IAIS has been replacing ties (with ones that look sort of small?) and adding ballast along this line this summer.

That's It!