RITS 1999
August 6 - 8

Friday, August 6

Jan and I got out of town around 8:45 on Friday headed for Moline, Illinois and the Rock Island Technical Society's 25th anniversary national convention. As "Web-Sitter" for RITS, I needed to be in attendance at the board meeting scheduled for 7:00 p.m. that evening, so we had plenty of time to train-watch on the way over.

We drove down to Chariton first and at 10:00 found a coal load parked west of town at the Hy-Vee crossing. The DETX cars were pulled by BN 9231, 9232 and CSX 7890. From the radio we learned that Main 1 was being used as single track from the crossover just east of Chariton to the CTC at Halpin and they were waiting for several westbound trains. We decided to drive on east to Russell, where the first of the westbounds was setting out a bad-order car.

A coal empty with a few fuel loads on the head end was already backing into the westbound spur track to set out a car they'd just picked up with the fuel at Maxon. Trainmaster Crasher was on hand to supervise and assist. The empty coal hopper, a COAX car, had a large flat spot on one wheel, and probably had been set out earlier at Maxon for the same reason. Power for the train consisted of BN 5110, 8040 and 7258.

By the time the setout was complete and 5110 was on its way again (around 10:20), several other trains were waiting east of Russell. The first pulled up, waited for the signals to change, and followed at 10:50. This was a merchandise train pulled by BNSF 6723, BN 8000, and BN 5063. In a few minutes, the next westbound, an AEPX empty, came into Russell behind BNSF 9856, 9884 and 9858, waited for the yellow signal to appear and rolled on westward.

From the radio we knew that there was another westbounder coming, BNSF 9954, but I decided not to wait for it and drove on to Albia, and then on to Ottumwa for a picnic by the IMRL/BNSF diamond. I did this over the (unstated, but communicated) objections of my wife, who hates to let anything we've located get by.

As we came into Ottumwa on Hwy. 34, we cruised through the IMRL yard to see what was on hand. Apparently the first half of a BN coal load (MPWX) destined for Fruitland had been taken up the hill and was clearing up at Rutledge. IMRL 210 and NREX 8925 were being readied to take an eastbound, "creampuff" the crew called it, to Nahant. We went to the diamond and had lunch. At 12:25 the "creampuff" came across the diamond and charged upgrade to Rutledge.

We took a quick look at the BN yard, finding BN 2121 and BNSF 2305 standing on the front of a freight. 663's crew had come on the radio earlier saying that they would not take the White Buffalo van on a long trip and wanted Black's van instead. The trainmaster said he'd take care of that, and we found both him and the Black's van in the yard as we drove through.

We went up to the north end of Ottumwa, just in time to see 210's marker as we drove over the tracks. The first half of the BN MPWX load was in the Rutledge siding. With Jan navigating using the DeLorme atlas, we tried to stay with 210 by "stair-stepping" along gravel roads. They were making pretty good time, however, and generally beat us to the grade crossings. Fortunately (for us) they ran out of warrant just west of Grace Hill, and we were able to get well ahead of them into Washington.

We stopped and waited for the train in Washington. They came through, passing the refurbished depot there, at 2:30. For an interesting view of this same location see the latest Trains magazine, which has a shot taken from an elevator by Russ Lyon of a UP stacker. From the radio, we learned that they would be meeting two trains at Cotter, so we hurried on eastward, hoping to catch them before things cleared up.

We made it to Cotter around 2:45, just as 210 was starting into the siding to meet westbound IMRL 370, 358 and NREX 2032. Although it's not obvious in the above picture, the man just outside the conductor's door on 370 is "armed" with a water bottle. As the two locos passed, he let 210's man have it. This prompted a retaliatory squirt from 210. Someone exited the engineer's door on 210, went to the rear of the unit and shot back at 370 as he passed the cab.

I managed to miss most of this as I was shutting off the camera and walking back to the Jeep. Jan was cracking up when I got back and explained what had happened. What no one had noticed was an IMRL-marked Blazer just across the road observing all this activity. Just after I returned to the Jeep, the SUV occupant came on the radio and started reading rule numbers to the train crews. A, "...this means you too, ...", only elicited, "Not me, I was in the chair the whole time!"

IMRL 370, spirits dampened somewhat, headed west on the mainline while 210 met a BN coal empty, MAXX cars behind BN 7925, BNSF 6377 and BN 5592. You can bet everyone was out to make a proper roll-by inspection this time!

We stopped briefly at the depot in Muscatine to get a picture of IMRL 108 and 122. Along the road just east of Muscatine we came upon eastbound IMRL 207, 213 and 230 with a freight train and a high/wide load just behind the power. According to a radio conversation, they'd come apart and were just about ready to get on the move again.

We got to Nahant Yard around 4:00 Friday. If you want to see a variety of IMRL power, Nahant is a great place to look. We returned on Saturday noon and Sunday morning. Here are some of the units we spotted each day:

Fri.	Sat.	Sun.
16	16	15
106	107	101
107	109	107
118	121	118
126	124	121
126	203	122
216	206	125
357	207	124
359	213	125
611	216	202
6077	355	203
6512	378	206
6522	378	209
8918	603	210
8936	8940	210
8940		224
Among the interesting power on Friday afternoon was 359, with its smiley face. We also found the IMRL business train, plus a training car, in town for a shippers' special. The passenger train was being switched onto a track near the roundhouse by IMRL 126. We came back on Saturday noon for a picture of IMRL Silver Cloud (formerly Rock Island Lake Michigan) in better light.

Click on the next link for the page about the RITS 1999 National Convention in Moline.

Sunday, August 8

Jan and I decided to follow up on some of the information handed out at the RITS meeting and went first to Milan, Illinois, to check out a restored Rock Island depot there. The structure has housed a business of some kind but is currently unoccupied.

After visiting Milan, we drove back over to the Iowa side and followed the Rock Island (now IAIS) tracks from the bridge west through Davenport, checking out the elevated right-of-way and the interesting placement of the tracks between narrow brick roadways. We followed out to the IMRL connection, once the place where the Golden State route diverged from the Chicago-Denver mainline.

We went back down to Nahant Yard to see what was going on there this morning (see the list of locos above). At 9:30, IMRL 124 was switching at the east end of the yard and a westbound freight had stopped and was cutting off the power. We drove to the west end of the yard and found an ex-CNW unit, IMRL 367, and an all-red (once CP Rail?) IMRL 118. A set of engines, including BN MAC 9677, was coming in from the west, followed by IMRL 209, 357, 8940, 206 and 122. The power from the westbound came by at the same time, IMRL 125, 210 and 8925.

We followed the IAIS tracks west out of Davenport, taking a short side trip north to the town of Sunbury to see if we could find a BCR&N depot described in a handout from the meeting. We couldn't be certain which building it was from the information in the handout, so we continued on to Durant and Wilton. Wilton (once Wilton Junction) has an interesting restored depot with curved sidewalls. A caboose, painted as Rock Island, sits just south of the depot. The caboose appears to me to be a former MILW unit.

Near Wilton around 11:00, we found a set of IAIS SD's, 101, 100 and 102, parked in a siding south of the North Star Steel recycling plant. We stopped for a minute in West Liberty to get some pictures of the RI depot. This structure, once at the junction of two RI lines, was for a time the subject of a restoration effort, but it has now fallen victim to vandalism and is in disrepair.

In Iowa City we got lunch and stopped in the park just south of the IAIS headquarters. The yard there appeared to be quite crowded with freight cars and power. Near the enginehouse we saw 626, 402, 403, 603, 627 and (NREX) 8738. Around 1:00 p.m., IAIS was putting together a westbound, providing plenty of opportunities to get pictures of the power on the bridge over the Iowa River. On the head end of the train were units 484, 483, 413 and 468. Before they left town, I got some nice "calendar shots" of them from the south side of the bridge.

We paced the IAIS train west out of Iowa City. They stopped in Marengo to drop some cars at the elevator and meet an eastbound. After the cars were spotted, 484's power pulled west and the two trains exchanged crews. The new crew ran the power back east through the siding to couple back onto the westbound consist. The eastbound, with IAIS 604, 303 and 466, followed them into the siding to make room for the meet. It was getting close to 3:00 by the time the westbound came back down the mainline and rolled onward toward its Newton destination.

We stopped for one more "calendar shot" of 484's train on an overpass just west of Ladora. We saw the train again in Victor at 3:22, and hurried over to Grinnell to await it's passage across the UP branch line. Jan had an evening meeting to attend however, and we weren't able to wait long enough for the train to appear. We heard them on the radio saying that they were in Grinnell at 4:18.

That's It!