I noticed a diesel, UP 1098, being coupled to the west end of our train and learned that there'd been a problem with the B&SV's steam loco this morning. They'd had a minor derailment on a switch which had delayed firing. The steam engine is only run on the weekends and takes around 6 hours to prepare on Saturday mornings. We were assured, however, that the engine would be ready for the 11:00 run and that the diesel was only there to charge the train line.
At 10:15 Aaron and I took the Jeep west for a look at the location, near the coal bunker, where the steamer was being fired with the help of a trailer-mounted compressor.
Since we had plenty of time and the B&SV's beautifully-restored trolley was ready for customers, we loaded everyone and took a ride downtown and back before boarding the steam train. CCW 50 is a fine sight with quarter-sawn oak and lots of period furnishings. On the trolley as well as on the train, volunteers tell lots of history and interesting information about the line and the equipment. The ride goes a short distance east to the old Ft Dodge, Des Moines and Southern frieght station. There the poles are exchanged and one returns to the B&SV depot. Will and Ellen enjoyed this little bonus excursion this morning.
We got back to the depot with just enough time to watch the steam engine couple to our train before boarding. The loco, JS 8419, was built in China and shipped to Boone for tourist service. It is equipped with a whistle from CB&Q 3007 that gives the loco a classy, mournful sound.
As promised, we were steam-powered and ready to roll on the advertised. Each car on the B&SV has a volunteer attendant who keeps up a continuous narrative as the train rolls slowly down to Fraser and back. Unfortunately, our car's P.A. system was apparently cranked to 11. At least the patter from the docent stopped when the engine was whistling, a very pleasant relief.
High point (so to speak) on the short trip is the passage over Bass Point Creek on the B&SV's "high bridge". On the way downhill, the engine releases great quantities of steam and water over the creek. We were fortunate (according to our guide) to have a break in the clouds and to see a spectrum of colors far below us south of the bridge. Along with the history of the line and other railroad-related sights along the way, our guide pointed out a number of examples of Iowa's fine foliage, discretely ignoring the abundant cannabis growing along the right of way.
The downhill run to Fraser passes a Y camp and crosses the Des Moines River (on a relatively low bridge). Fraser, once the site of a coal power plant for the Fort Dodge line, is now the location where the locomotive runs around the train for the return trip. (I think I have an old slide somewhere, let's see... Yes! Here it is, taken in November of 1969.)
Our runaround was accomplished quickly and we were soon on our way back up the hill toward Boone. Just one passenger car (unoccupied) and a caboose separated us from JS 8419, and we were frequently showered with cinders through the open windows on the return trip. I find this a proper part of the steam loco experience, although not everyone appreciates it. The B&SV does have another train that takes a longer run and serves food in an air-conditioned car. But then, it's diesel-powered!
Once the train is back at the Boone depot, the steamer is spotted next to the water tower and a stairway is placed so that those who care to can inspect the loco. Should you want to get even closer, cab rides and instruction trips are available (at extra charge) on the B&SV.
Before we left town, I insisted on taking the kids out to see the CNW's high bridge over the Des Moines River. The UP obliged us right after we stopped south of the bridge by running a coal load across. We followed this train back into town and then drove on out east to Jordan where the group separated. Before Aaron, Christy and I took off for Des Moines, I got a picture of the new GeeP at the elevator and we watched one westbound manifest come through at 2:20 with UP 2424 and 72?4 on the point.
(Regular viewers will notice some differences in the image quality in this excursion (and perhaps in the one above as well). I've traded cameras and am still experimenting with settings. The new camera, an Olympus 2500, has many more options and manual controls than the 620 I've been using since March of '99. I've also purchased a fixed 160 mm telephoto to use in addition to the 38-110 zoom built into the camera. I'll note a picture or two taken with the new lens. In some cases these images are cropped as well. This gives an effect, in relation to other images of the same size, of greater magnification)
We got to Carroll (in two vehicles so that I could head home from there) around 11:15, just missing an eastbounder. There was quite a bit of traffic, so we didn't have to wait long for the next train. This was a westbound DEEX empty with UP 6560 and 2641, that came through town at 11:25. As you'll note in the images, we had another cloudy and cool morning, very much like Saturday had been.
Several eastbound intermodals were up next.
12:00 - UP 7547 and RG 5407, mostly pigsNice of them to put the wings in front, don't you think? While the last couple of trains were passing, a crew was getting aboard a ribbon-rail train parked north of the mainlines. They were allowed to follow the 9491 and pulled out of the siding at 1:08. On the front of the rail train were UP 6320 and 6295. 6320 was having a bad paint day.
12:06 - UP 4184, 6186, 9453, 9247 and 7503, double-stack
12:31 - UP 4197, 5003, 9535 and 2996, double-stack
1:01 - UP 9491, 9881 and 7045, double-stack
At this point, we parted company and I started toward home, intending to do some train-watching along the way, of course. I stopped at the Boone yard and got pictures of some the CNW units hanging out there:
CNW 4156, with LTEX lettered on the black long hood.I drove out to the east end of the yard and then out to Shamrock where a westbound manifest had stopped for a crew change at 2:50. This train had UP 7131 and 7128 on the point. In just a few minutes a westbound stacker was brought around them on the north rail. This train had plenty of power, UP 9788, 9463, 9104 and 9293. They raced by the EADM doing some switching in the yard. Around 3:00, the EADM, with UP 2106 and 3033, pulled out and started for Des Moines. I decided to do the same and got back on Hwy. 30.
CNW 1316 and 1314
CNW 4706, 4400, 4705 and 4710
I got to Short Line Junction a little after 4:00. From the talk on the radio, I gathered that there was a southbound extra (DMKCX) about to leave and that the EADM was waiting behind it. The yardmaster was being ultra-correct on the radio today, answering with "UP Short Line Yard, Des Moines, over" The extra came through the junction at 4:30 with UP 5720, CNW 6900, UP 480 (once 2480?) and UP 2971.
A couple of units, UP 2969 and 3029 were brought out from the fuel track and backed onto the main for the Valley Park train. At 4:42 the EADM appeared (160mm) and rounded the northeast leg of the wye at Short Line. By this time the DMEA and an Iowa Interstate train were both waiting to leave the yard. The DMEA pulled (160mm - VP job and IAIS at left) and headed around the wye to the north with UP 2995 and CSX 8194 at 4:56. As soon as they cleared, the IAIS train started west for the junction. (I know what you're wondering, and the answer is, "Yes, that's the track that the proposed Amtrak service will use!") On the IAIS westbound were units 800, ex-ICG 466 and 601.
By now the DMVP was working on its air test and I could also hear the BNSF switching down at the NS yard. I decided to have a look at the BNSF, but got caught in traffic (waiting on the IAIS) and had to go all the way down to the sewer plant to catch them just before they entered the west end of Glake Yard. They had BNSF 2510 and a bright blue unit marked CWG 4144. After that train, I headed on home. On the scanner, it sounded like one of those days when you could stay trackside indefinitely. I could hear warrants being copied by two northbounds on the Spine Line, at Beech and Williamson.