Albia and Ottumwa

Friday, August 11




In spite of relatively poor weather, I decided to take advantage of a "free" Friday to get some train pictures and do some shopping at a hobby shop in Ottumwa.  I left the ranch around 6:15 and got to Albia in time to catch a westbound coming through the yard on Main 1 at 7:50.  This was an FSTX empty pulled by BNSF 9641 and BN 9583.  There were two helper units in the yard this morning, BNSF 4988 and 9937.

Shortly, I heard a westbound with 538 axles on the detector east of town.  I drove out to old Maxon to catch another westbound at 8:08.  This was a distributed power train with CEFX tub gondolas, BNSF 5021 and 9644 in the front and BN 9610 behind.  They were followed closely by another at 8:22.  This train read 504 axles on the detector and had BNSF 5829 and 9488 on the point of a set of FSTX tubs.

By this time I'd heard dispatcher KRS giving a warrant to an eastbound at Russell, the DENGAL.  They came up the hill on Main 2 at 9:10 with just two units leading, BNSF 4113 and 5297.  The detector counted the DENGAL at 512 axles.

At this point I headed for Casey's to get a coffee refill, but at an overpass I saw a coal load dragging up the hill.  I drove back to the old Hwy. 34 grade crossing and intercepted them coming through town at 9:30.  On the point of the BNSF and WFAX cars were BN 9576 and BNSF 8272.

After my pit stop, I drove to Ottumwa, getting over to the north side of the river just as the above load rolled through.  From scanner traffic, I knew a westbound was coming, so I went to a spot just east of the ICE/BNSF diamonds to intercept it.  At 10:24 the (ugly) loco with dissonant airhorns came into sight, a distributed power BN/BNSF empty with BNSF 9392 and 9550 in front and BNSF 5734 in the rear.

At this point I went to the Ottumwa business district and spent some time at Hobby Chest.  I got a new airbrush and a few kits before getting some lunch and returning to the rails.  There had been some talk on the ICE radio channel about a southbound, and I heard them tone up the north siding switch at Rutledge, which reported back its position.  (Yeah, a talking switch!)  The manifest, MAKC, came down the hill to the BNSF diamonds at 1:15 with DME 6074 and 6071 on the point.  6071 was labeled "City of Ft. Pierre".

As soon as the diamond was cleared, KRS started some westbounds across.  I moved to the depot area to catch them and Amtrak when it finally arrived.  At 1:35 the gates came down for BNSF 9739 (friendly Conductor) and 9535 trailing a set of BNSF hoppers.  In twenty minutes came UCEX hoppers, with BNSF 7750 and CEFX 1009 leading, and BNSF 8864 behind.

Perpetually tardy Amtrak No. 6 showed its headlights at the ICE diamond just after 3:00.  In the consist:
AMTK 182 and 42
Baggage 1735
Transition Sleeper 39012
Sleepers 32117 and 32025
Diner 38016
Sightseer Lounge 33009
Coaches 34049, 34097 and 31000
After the smoking break and change of engineers at Ottumwa, the brakes were released and they whistled off.  The California Zephyr made a moving brake test and rolled east, reporting the stop to the dispatcher as ":12 and :32".

I decided to stick around for two more trains, both eastbound.  The first, at 3:38 was a CEFX coal load pulled by BNSF 9821, with BN 9617 shoving on the rear.  The second train, at 3:50, was a unit "mash" train, tub gondolas with "Shur-Lok" tarp covers, filled with the leftovers from ethanol production at Eddyville.  They'd been relieved at the ICE crossover by a crew off of the Zephyr.  The mash train had BNSF 7682 and ATSF 626 in charge.

That's It!