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
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
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
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".
Transition Sleeper 39012
Sleepers 32117 and 32025
Sightseer Lounge 33009
Coaches 34049, 34097 and 31000
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.