After finishing a few early morning chores, Jan and I headed for Osceola to see Amtrak come through. It was a cool and damp morning, with showers passing through. We arrived just about the time that the CZ should have been there, but found it posted inside the station to be 3 hours late.
The forces of Roadmaster Butch Vanderpool were still trying to get the rails to stay in place around MP 285, where heavy rains washed out the line earlier this summer. Before leaving home this morning, we'd heard the roadmaster calling for a work train to run from Albia west to Osceola to pick up all the available ballast and bring it back past Albia to the washout area.
We'd learned from the scanner that there would be two coal loads ahead of the passenger train. While the passengers bided their time wandering between the depot and the Casey's convenience store across the highway, we waited for traffic.
At 10:04 the work train, consisting of SF 2784 and caboose BN 10165, arrived. The three-man crew pulled the GP-30 to the west and shoved back into a siding to pick up the first two of the ballast loads from the westbound siding. Three more loads, mixed with other cars, remained to be brought out from the west spur and the elevator track to the north.
While the work train shuffled cars around north of the depot in the rain, a coal load had been working eastward from Creston. They appeared at 10:46 with BN 9262, KCS 722 and OWY (EMD) 9078. We'd seen the 9262 going west on an empty Thursday evening. The unit train consisted of GSNX gondolas.
By 11:00, the work train had been assembled and was ready to run back toward Albia. From the scanner, we learned that Amtrak was out of Prescott at 11:08. This would put it into Osceola ahead of the posted time, however, the second coal load, running ahead of the CZ between Creston and Osceola, was now running into signal trouble and was having to stop and proceed at several block signals.
The dispatcher, in conversation with the work train, indicated that he wanted to get the two loads past Osceola and then cross Amtrak over at MP 357.9 (just east of town) to the westbound to run around them. He asked the work train if they'd be willing to run east to the crossover and handle the switches, and they agreed to do so.
The second load was out of Creston at 10:34. However, with the signal delays, which made them drag slowly up a couple of hills, it took them until 11:52 to cover the thirty miles to Osceola. On the point of this set of BN cars were BNSF 9878 and BN 9571. From the detector's axle counts, we calculated that both of the loads had 116 cars.
Amtrak finally arrived approximately when originally forecast, any time they'd made up on the way to Creston lost to the signal troubles west of Osceola. In the CZ today:
Amtrak made two spots and was on its way again at 12:29. Jan, in the Jeep on the south side, wrote down the cars in the passenger train, and I, on the north side taking pictures, talked them into my microcassette. We both came up with the same numbers - three engines and sixteen cars. As we drove north toward Indianola, we heard the detector announce the CZ's passage on the north track and give an axle count of eighty. Say what?!?