CTC Beech

BNSF Ottumwa

Wednesday, August 13

Byron and I met early Wednesday for a day along the BNSF.  We went east on Hwy. 92 and stopped to check out the new CTC installation by the UP in Beech.  The system has been extended south from the south end of the Carlisle siding (CP U064) to the north siding switch at Beech, designated CP U053.  As part of the project, the UP's cut a new road to the spring frog switch, formerly inaccessible, and provided generous parking.  The installation includes a directional antenna aimed off to the south, though there's not been any work at the south end of the siding yet.

From Beech Byron and I headed on east, through Knoxville and down to Albia.  From the Ottumwa dispatcher, KRS, and EOT buzzes on the scanner, we figured there must have been a westbound on the Des Moines branch about the time we passed Knoxville.  At Albia around 8:30 we had a quick look at the yard and then drove out to "Old Maxon".  We heard the detector on Main 1 just east of Maxon and got to the rails just in time to catch a grain empty with lots of NS cars, apparently headed up the branch to Des Moines.  This train, through Old Maxon at 8:37, had BNSF 5606 and 8929 on the point.

From the radio, we knew that we had two eastbounds out of Creston, one at 8:12 and the other at 8:30.  Amtrak's "Julie" predicted the Zephyr would reach Ottumwa at 1:11.  So far, that was the only traffic we'd heard about, so we headed for a short break at a convenience store.  Just after we got in the car, we heard another westbound coming and getting a warrant from the KC desk.  We went down the hill and out to Halpin to catch it at 9:15.  This turned out to be a set of GEAX tub gondolas pulled by BNSF 5602 and 9835.

We went back up to Old Maxon to await traffic and listen to the radio.  A track inspector was out at Maxon and called dispatcher KRS to announce that there was a bad insulated joint that it would require some work today.  Kevin immediately went from Status Yellow to Orange, "...we've got a critical situation here!"  Byron and I imagined a rotating beacon and alarm system sounding off over the cubicle in Fort Worth.  There were four eastbounds ahead of Amtrak and a "plug" for the defective joint was going to have to be brought over from Thayer.

Byron and I had an appointment to meet this morning at the Ottumwa depot with John Elliot, a fan from near Iowa City, so we left the critical situation at Maxon and drove on east on Hwy. 34.  An ICE southbound (the direction IMRL/CP/SOO/MILW called "west") was just passing under us as we crossed their highway overpass.  At the west end of the ICE yard sat DME 3801, the "City of Midland", coupled to a few tank cars.  A KCS unit was parked near the yard office.

We met John at the depot and spent some time looking over pictures of his numerous Amtrak trips.  There still didn't seem to be very much traffic coming, so we got lunch and parked in the shade under one of the viaducts.  BNSF units 2919 and 2281 were parked on a spur southwest of the yard and the Ottumwa local power, EMDX 799 and BNSF 1593 were working the yard using Main 2.

Amtrak No. 6 showed up on Main 1 at the ICE diamond at 1:38 and pulled into the station, stopping at 1:41.  Passengers detrained and boarded while the Conductor Fitzgerald and Engineer Lucas dropped off the lead unit and walked to the depot.  Consist today:

AMTK 146 and 42
Baggage 1710
Transition Sleeper 39024
Sleepers 32104 "Oklahoma", 3249 and 32082 "Indiana"
Diner 38064
Sightseer Lounge 33049
Coaches 31533, 34092 and 34016
Two Boxcars, one XpressTrak, one Box and three Roadrailers
The 76-axle passenger train rolled again at 1:47, which would have freed the eastbounds waiting on Main 2, but there was still a Loram rail grinder coming west to back into the yard.  With the grinder out of the way, we saw four eastbounds in rapid succession:

2:04 - FSTX/PSTX coal load, distributed power, BNSF 8820 and BNSF 9878.

2:28 - ManifestBNSF 3163, EMD 9092 and BNSF 6373.  Long block of empty autoracks.

2:54 - COMX coal load, BN 9516 and 9469.

3:20 - AEPX coal load, distributed power, BNSF 5634 and BNSF 9850.

After the four trains were by, we bid John good-bye and headed west toward home.  As we neared Chariton, we heard some discussion between the dispatcher and a couple of eastbound trains.  They learned that they would have to wait for a short time for "maintenance in the way" to get off of the rails.

We drove south off of Hwy. 34 and intercepted the first of the two trains just west of the Russell detector at MP 328.  This was a UCEX load with BNSF 9944 on the point and BNSF 8870 bringing up the rear.  The Russell detector recorded 532 axles for this train and told us that the temperature was now 80 degrees.  The second train, an OGSX load probably headed for the power plant near Chillicothe, had BNSF 9960 in front and 8852 trailing.  This rear unit was stopped just east of the crossover at MP 333 outside of Chariton.

Sunday, August 17

Central Iowa Garden Railway Society

Susan and I went to Pleasantville on a hot Sunday afternoon to our second meeting with CIGRS at the home of Peter Paeth.  Peter and his dad, Bill, have been working on a compact outdoor layout in Peter's backyard.  A fairly good-sized crowd was in attendance, particularly considering the blistering weather.  Among the interesting models present was a motorcar and a blacksmith's car constructed by Gary Edlen from Sabula.  Naturally, Thomas put in an appearance, too.

During the meeting Susan and I handed around a picture of our garden setup and invited anyone who cared to do so to drop by her place after the meeting at the Paeths'.  About a dozen people drove the few miles north of town to have a look at what we've accomplished since starting in late May.

That's It!