A Busy Day in Chariton

Tuesday, August 9


I got away from the ranch at 6:30 on Tuesday morning.  We had a clear and cool morning with a temperature of 70°.  I drove south through Melcher and past Williamson.  At 7:00 I was between Williamson and Chariton when I heard the Russell detector announce 558 axles on the westbound main.  I hurried and made it to the west end of Chariton, the "HyVee" crossing, officially known as 215 Ave., just in time to catch a set  of empty BNSF tub gondolas ready to head down the hill toward Lucas.  Leading were BNSF 9996 and 6011.  I waited as the train passed and got a shot of BNSF 6251 running as DP on the rear.

I had a short visit with a nice couple from Melcher who had waited for the train and I was about to relocate when I heard on the scanner one engineer inform another that they were "Okay, 14 mph under the bridge".  From this I knew that at least two eastbounds were on the way up Whitebreast  Hill.  It wasn't long before I could hear a train making the pull, and it came into sight at 7:52.  This was a coal load with BNSF and CITX tubs.  On the point were BNSF 9945 and 9512, and behind, BNSF 6228.  The other member of the radio conversation I'd heard was right behind, and arrived at 8:10.  This train had BNBX tubs, with three units in front, BNSF 8845, 6401 and 6380, and with BNSF 9936 on the rear.

I stayed at the HyVee grade crossing a little longer and sat listening to the rails pop in the morning sun while I made a call to Amtrak's "Julie" to see how No. 6 was doing today.  She said that the passenger train should be at Osceola at 9:12, though I could hear the dispatcher, "J.B.B", discussing various ways to move the Zephyr between mainlines, including possibly backing it over at Creston.

From the Chariton depot, foreman John Horne called to see about getting a work train out onto Main 2 this morning and was told that he would wait on one more eastbound, BNSF 9737.  I decided to wait on it, too.  This third coal load made it up Whitebreast at 8:39, with BNSF 9737, 9548, a set of TGNX gondolas and BNSF 9146 behind.

I started to leave, but almost missed a westbound freight train at 8:45.  This train had BNSF 7312 and 7794 on the point.  They were followed fairly closely by another empty coal train, JHMX hoppers this time, with BNSF 9961, 9741 and 5682 in front and BNSF 9362 in DP.

At this point the work train obtained a Box 4, "work between", warrant to take Main 2 from MP 327 to MP 345, and I moved into town to park near Auburn Avenue and watch them come out of the yard.  At 9:20 a couple of pickups with Hi-Rail wheels got on the tracks and moved west toward the depot.  From the scanner, I learned that Amtrak had fallen a bit more from its schedule and was still at Creston.  Just before 10:00 the ribbon rail train, with Herzog rail handling equipment on the rear, backed past me.  It looked like the train had just a few pieces of rail in the lower parts of the racks.  BNSF 4704, still in "war bonnet" paint, was shoving on the west end of the outfit as they headed out toward Russell.

I knew there wouldn't be any rail traffic until Amtrak came through and made it to Halpin, where several westbounders were already waiting.  I decided to see if I could get some pictures of the rail work, so I drove out to Russell and then back west on gravel roads to a grade crossing where the rail was being dropped.  At the grade crossing, the rig stopped and a torch was used to cut both rails just  short of the road.  The train then proceeded west and continued dropping sections of rail.

I went west to the next grade crossing, "the water tower crossing" and waited for the train to arrive.  A railroad employee told me that they would not be dropping rail at the crossing, but I decided to wait for No. 6, which by this time would be just a few minutes away.  The work train had two more spots to the west where they wanted to drop lengths of rail, but by now JBB had informed them that they would not have time and that they would need to go back to Chariton and clear up for revenue traffic.  At 11:40 the passenger and the work train met about a mile west of the water tower crossing.  Leading the California Zephyr today were AMTK 11 and 137.  The Russell detector counted 52 axles on No. 6.

I drove back to Chariton, got some lunch and parked at Curtis Ave., just east of the depot.  The work train loco, 4704, had cut off and was doing some switching of a coal car in order to leave it where it could be repaired.  This left the ribbon rail cars blocking the grade crossing.  Around 12:15, four youngsters of assorted sizes showed up and discussed how they would get around the train.  One climbed up onto one of the rail cars and jumped off on the south side of the train while the others started walking east toward the Herzog equipment, which was less than a block away.  The three on the north side stopped short of the east end of the train and their companion climbed back through the train.  Fortunately, they did not encounter any of the westbounds heading our way.

After lunch, I relocated to the west end of the yard.  The first of five westbound empties arrived at 1:00, a set of BNSF hoppers with BNSF 9791 and 5618 on the point, and BNSF 9604 behind.

Following were:

1:25 - BNSF 9283, 9317 and 5665 with TGNX, TILX and TNJX tubs, 558 axles
1:39 - BNSF 5676, 6358, 5717 and DP 5750 with UCEX hoppers, 560 axles
1:52 - BNSF 9523, 9608 and 9862 with TNJX "NRG" gondolas, 546 axles
2:08 - BNSF 6162, 9357, 9631 and 6423 with JHMX hoppers, 570 axles

The fifteenth train of the day, arriving at 2:10, was a coal load, KCPL "le Cygne" gondolas with BNSF 5778 and 9403 leading and BNSF 6239 running as distributed power in the rear.  The next was an eastbound freight, with foreign power, CSX 4791 and CN 2456.  This train came through at 2:40 and, although I knew of several more that were out and running, marked the end of my train-watching for this Tuesday.

That's It!