A Round Trip with the DMDM

Saturday, August 31



We had a pretty good looking Saturday here in central Iowa for the Labor Day weekend.  It was clear and 65 degrees with a little ground fog.  I left Indianola at 7:20 and went to Des Moines first to have a look around Short Line Yard.  I knew from the radio that the KSIT and the DMDM (Marshalltown turn) were working on getting out of town.  Except for a grain empty with UP 9722 and GCFX 3077 parked at Hull Avenue yard, there wasn't much to see.

I jumped on I-35 and joined the parade of Iowa State fans headed north for the Kansas game.  I turned out of the traffic at Hwy. 30 and headed east toward Nevada.  When I got to the overpass of the Spine Line, I could see the tail end of the DMDM going around the corner toward KC Junction.  I drove into town and caught them coming to a grade crossing at 8:35.  On the head end were UP 2967 and 2985.  I made a quick stop at Casey's and then headed on east on old Hwy. 30 (A.K.A. E41).  The "Dum Dum" slowed approaching Clear Creek and I had just enough time to get to the tracks and grab a shot through the windshield as they went by the signals at 8:55.

I'd heard a couple of trains going through Boone as I was coming north on the Interstate, so I decided to wait at Clear Creek for traffic.  At 9:17 the Colo detector (MP 173) announced the first one (look closely at the picture, there's a distant headlight).  This turned out to be a manifest pulled by UP 4751 and 4466.  In twenty minutes, the detector came on for another train on "Track 1", and by this time the signal for the (normally westbound) other main was clear.  The following eastbound was a loaded grain train with UP 9744 and 8534.

I got impatient for the expected westbound and decided to move a little closer to State Center.  I'll never learn - I watched a short manifest pass from Hwy. 30 before I could make it to the next grade crossing.  I went on through the north side of State Center on the gravel and stopped at a grade crossing just northeast of town.  I'd heard the Lamoille detector (MP 158) for Main 2 and expected another westbound.  They showed up at 10:07, just after I got to the grade crossing.  This was a loaded set of autoracks with UP 6353 and 4364 on the point.

On the gravel road between State Center and Lamoille I passed the grain train and caught up to the rear end of the manifest I'd seen earlier at Clear Creek.  I stopped just west of the overpass at West Marshalltown for another picture of 4751.

Once in Marshalltown, I went to the 12th Street crossing just as a yard job was shoving a cut of cars west on the old C&GW line, these days called the "Des Moines Track".  After crossing the rails and going east a bit, I stopped at 2nd Street where I could see three headlights to the west; the yard job, the DMDM on the south main, and 4751's train on Track 1.  I got a shot of the DMDM approaching as the rear of the manifest passed.  If you look closely, you can see the headlight of the yard job on the C&GW line, back in the trees to the left.

I stayed here long enough to watch the DMDM come to the switch, cross over to the yard lead and bring their train into the yard.  It wasn't long (10:52) before the grain train came blasting through on Track 1.

I had about a half hour break to look around before traffic picked up again.  at 11:27 a CWEX load arrived with UP 8277 and 8138.  From talk between trains on the radio, I could tell that westbounds were stacking up out east of town.  At 11:35 the first came through, a manifest with CNW 8680 and UP 4073 and 9227.  I noticed later when looking through the images that 8680 had a hand-lettered number board on the engineer's side.

By this time, the DMDM crew had run around their train and were completing some switching.  They called the dispatcher to see about getting back out onto Track 2 and were told that he (P.L.O. was Dispatcher 19 today.) would call them when he was ready.

A CIPX empty came by 2nd St. at 11:47.  On the point were UP 7253 and SP 362.  They were met by a DP load with WEPX cars at 11:55.  On the head end were UP 8192 and 8306, and trailing, SP 273.  Right behind 7253's train, at 12:05, was a manifest with UP 8305, 3322 and 9672.  They stopped briefly at West Marshall and rolled west again at 12:12.  An EDGX empty with UP 8244 in front and 8198 behind followed right on 8305's taillight.

I relocated to the shade of the Center St. viaduct for the next couple of trains.  At 12:30  I caught a CWEX load with UP 6758 and SP 203.  Ten minutes later the first stack train of the day came through west bound.  This train had four units, UP 9811, 9081, 9189 and 9596.  The conductor waved for the camera.

I hurried to Taylor's Maid-Rite for some takeout and got back to the rails in time for an eastbound stacker at 1:05.  This train had five units and was raising quite a cloud of dust as it came into town.  They were running right-handed, so I figured that the CWEX load was probably waiting to be passed at the East Marshalltown crossovers.  The stacker was pulled by UP 4815, 4824, 2335, 6271 and 6331.

After lunch I went out to the east end of the yard (12th Avenue) and got there in time to see the CWEX load just starting to roll after the stacker got back onto the north rail ahead of it.  A WEPX empty had been waiting and came into Marshalltown at 1:20.  This was a DP train with UP 7145 on the point.  As they passed, I was trying to dodge Job 1, with UP 394 and 447, hoping that they wouldn't block the view of the main when the rear unit, UP 6743, came through.  A few of the WEPX cars carried a logo for "Pleasant Prairie Power Plant".

I was about to leave the east end of the yard when one more eastbound showed up at 1:28.  This was a NORX coal load pulled by UP 8237, 6539 and 8108.  Before leaving town, I went down to the engine service area northwest of the old shop building where UP 3025 and 9819 were parked.  9819 carried an interesting "FUTURE" sign, sounding rather like something that might have been produced by a committee.  Also present, derelict NREX 1500 and some sort of rail equipment, possibly part of a grinder?  This machine was in the DMDM's consist to return to Des Moines.  (Yes, they were still not out of town at 1:40 p.m.)

I started back west parallel to the rails, passing 7145 along the way, and turned off at Clear Creek to catch them as they came through.  The signals were red, and they stopped briefly before going on past the set of crossovers on the south track at 2:18.

I reversed field and went back to a dirt road crossing west of State Center (MP 167.1) that had looked like a nice spot for pictures when I visited it earlier.  The first thing to arrive, at 2:32, was another WEPX train.  This one had distributed power, UP 8241 with 6689 on the point and UP 6455 on the rear.  The next image shows the rear of the train going uphill into State Center.

Next up was the DMDM.  They rolled around the curve at the dirt road crossing at 2:45.  Another coal load came by just before 3:00, UP 8006 and 6556 with WPSX hopper cars.  (Have you noticed how hard it is to find a view of Iowa's horizon that doesn't have at least one of those ugly cell phone towers in it?)

As I went on west I saw another coal load going through Colo, and there was a manifest going under the highway and into the Nevada siding at Devil's Hollow.  There was also a northbound grain empty holding the main there.  I learned from the radio that the covered hopper train was led by UP 8093 and that the manifest was the SSDM with UP 2978 on the point.  The SSDM was told to shut down one unit and tie down the train, a relief crew was called for 1730.

The DMDM was hustled around KC and Chicago junctions and sent "straight through" to Short Line.  It sounded like there was some more traffic to be routed from the east/west mains onto the Spine, so I went out southwest of Nevada to a spot inside of Chicago Junction.  At 3:40, a northbound coal load came south off the mainlines and around to the east to take the old Rock Island route north out of Nevada.  On the point were UP 7185 and 8288.

In a few minutes, another train came south, this one a grain train headed for Des Moines.  I caught them coming around the west leg of Chicago Junction at 4:00.  In the lead were UP 6478, HLCX 7230 and UP 6814.  As they passed the detector at 104.5, it reported "Eight Six Degrees" this afternoon.  I headed south through Cambridge and stopped at Enterprise to see if I could catch them again.  After waiting until 5:00, I gave up and got back on the Interstate for the trip home to Indianola.

That's It!