Saturday in Marshalltown

September 2


I decided to try to ignore Iowa's heat and humidity and do some train-watching on Labor Day weekend.  Making Marshalltown my destination provided some motivation beyond the guarantee of UP's heavy mainline traffic; lunch from Taylor's Maid-Rites!  I left Indianola about ten 'til eight.  It was 71 degrees with a fairly heavy fog.  Just as I was leaving town, I heard the Trenton sub. dispatcher say that a grain extra was "out of Des Moines".  I thought that I might be able to catch this one at Carlisle, but just as I got there, I heard the detector south of town go off and figured I'd missed them.  This detector's easy to identify because it's the only one in the area with a female voice (112K .au file).  However, back on the Hwy 65 bypass, I saw the rear end as I passed over the Spine Line north of Avon.  Dang!  The detector must have been for a different train.

The "skip" was in this morning, as it has been routinely with the current weather pattern, and I could hear railroad radio from all over the place.  The BNSF St. Joe line was coming in as well as the Kirkwood, Illinois radio on the Ottumwa sub.  I heard Amtrak #6 report it's times to the dispatcher when leaving Creston as, "36 and 39".  I began shutting off far-away channels that were hogging the radio so that I could hear what was going on locally.

I cruised past Short Line and Hull Avenue Yards in Des Moines.  Things seemed pretty quiet today and I was soon on I-35 and headed north for the junction at Nevada.  Traffic on the interstate was very heavy this morning.  A steady stream of Iowa State fans raced past me, tailgating one another through the fog - on their way to tailgate, I suppose.  I turned off the Interstate onto a county road north of the UP tracks and drove east toward Nevada.  I discovered that the old Lincoln Highway route into town was closed and detoured south onto Hwy. 30.  I got to the junction of with the Spine Line just a few seconds too late to catch the head end of a train coming around the wye to go north.  Things were not off to a good start today...

Determined to intercept some UP traffic, I decided to just make straightaway for Marshalltown.  On the way over, I saw three westbound trains, a manifest between Colo and State Center, a coal empty on the overpass at State Center and a second coal empty just as I got to the west edge of Marshalltown around 10:00.  It was still in the low 70's and foggy.

I'd planned to use Marshalltown's three viaducts over the yard as shelter from the sun today, but they weren't necessary yet.  Under the Center St. viaduct, the UP had constructed a new switch.  It wasn't long before headlights appeared out of the haze to the west.  My first "catch" of the day, at 10:19, was a CWEX coal load pulled by UP 7254 and 8192.  They were followed about 10 minutes later by a long stack train behind UP 8556, 8555 and 9775.

From radio traffic I expected the next train to be westbound, so I moved to the east side of the depot to catch it.  This turned out to be a manifest with UP 9700, 9069, CSX 58?? and an HATX unit.  They passed the Marshalltown depot at 10:37.

Switching chores in the yard this morning were being handled by UP 1649 and 1830.

Just before 11:00, a westbound stack train cut through the fog and came by my position back at the viaduct.  On the point were UP 9673, 5061, 5975, 3521 and 7551.  Another train was coming by eastbound behind them.  Since both were running right-handed, I guessed correctly that the eastbounder would be stopping to work in the yard.  This second train turned out to be the DMBY.  I went to the east end of the yard at 12th Avenue for pictures of the power, UP 2996 and CNW 6885.

Next it was back to the Center St. viaduct for more headlights in the gloom at 11:17.  These belonged to UP 6580 which, along with CNW 8819, came east with a set of loaded COMX hoppers.  The coal load was followed closely by a train of empty autoracks.  They came under the viaduct at 11:30 with UP 9537 and 3386.  The sun was trying very hard to break through by this time, and you'll note something resembling shadows starting to appear in the pictures.

With the sunshine came a very rapid rise in temperature.  We went from 80 to 92 degrees in about 40 minutes.  I took advantage of the light to go around to the Transglobal shops to see what might be parked outside today.  On the west end, along with the usual CNW derelicts, including 4165, 6639 and 6584, were two SF units, 2068 and 2121.  In-service CNW 4707 and 5537 were parked west and east of the engine service area, respectively.  On the east side of the shop I found three IC units, 8708, 8711 and 8729, along with freshly-painted DRSX 1209 and TGRX 2000.

I encountered another railfan who'd decided to brave the heat on the south side of the west yard entrance.  We visited briefly just before the arrival at noon of an eastbound manifest behind UP 2972 and CEFX 7122 (A very familar paint scheme, don't you think?)  While this train (a CBPR, I believe) was arriving, we missed a westbound manifest running right-handed.

I went to Taylors and ordered, "One with pickle and mustard, and a chocolate shake." to bring back to the shade of the west viaduct.  At 12:31 an eastbound "BOBO" train arrived behind CNW 4705, UP Y721, and CNW 4710 and 4706.  This train was to yard at Marshalltown, so I went up on the viaduct for some shots.  The Oly will shoot very nicely through chain-link fencing, but this viaduct is at an acute angle to the tracks, so I couldn't get the fencing out of the pictures entirely.  Cropping took care of it, however.  As the Boone-Boone train was going through the switches onto a receiving track, a westbound stacker with UP 7527 leading came around the corner and sped under me.

I went back to the north side of the yard and parked under the Center St. viaduct again.  This is a terrible location to shoot from in "high sun".  I don't know what possessed me to park there, but I did get in a short nap before the horns of an approaching train awoke me.  Looking to the west, I saw two eastbound trains arriving, one on each main.  The train on the north track was a stacker that came under the viaduct at 1:13 with UP 7554, 8549 and 5979.  The second train, with UP 5086 (with a red flag), 9640 and 3242, pulled to the east and stopped at Marshalltown.

Ten minutes later another eastbound stacker came through with UP 9551 and 6198 on the point.  They were followed at 1:57 by a coal load behind UP 6813 and CNW 8805.  With some discussion on the radio about the brakes being set on a car about ten deep, I drove out to the east end of the yard where the coal train stopped briefly.  I stopped on the south side of the tracks at 12th Ave, because I could hear another eastbounder coming through about ten after two.  It was a stacker, moving very fast on Main 2, with UP 4187, 3323, CEFX 7075, SP 8641 and UP 6313.  I thought I might miss this one since the yard job was on a nearer track racing the stacker for the crossing.

With the fog thoroughly burned away, the afternoon was warming rapidly.  By 2:30 I was ready for some time in the air-conditioning so I started back west toward Nevada.  Just past State Center I heard the Lamoille detector say, "Temperature, one zero zero degrees."  In Nevada I parked on the south side of the mains in the shadow of an old grain elevator and waited for traffic that I knew from the detectors was coming west behind me.  I caught two westbounds before moving on.  The first, a WEPX coal empty, came through town at 3:16 with UP 7138 and 8093.  The second train was just ten minutes behind, a stacker with UP 8548 and 8527.

I made a fuel stop and drove out to the KC Junction area.  The dispatcher had the signals set up for KC-South, so I turned around, expecting to see something come off of the mains and head for Des Moines.  I pulled into a gravel field-access road to wait.  A pickup was approaching from across the tracks, so I parked well off to the side to let him pass.  However, a large dog jumped out of the back of the pickup and came to see what I was up to.  I'm not one to take a chance on strange dogs, so I just stayed in the Jeep and waited.  The guy in the pickup stopped on the other side of the tracks and waited for the dog to return.  There we sat, the dog outside my driver's door staring at me, the pickup waiting for the dog, and me hoping that the train didn't come and catch the dog on the opposite side of the tracks from its owner (or worse).

After what seemed like a very long time, the pickup driver decided to cross the tracks, the dog (reluctantly) got back in his truck, and they left.  I rolled down the windows and shut off the Jeep.  At 3:49 a train (possibly EADM?) came off the Nevada Sub and rolled around the curve past me.  A friendly engineer played "shave and a haircut" on the horns as they came past me.  On the head end were UP 5949, CNW 8052 and CNW 6819.

I decided to see if I could beat them to Cambridge and took off down S-14.  On the way south I heard the Shipley detector report 101 degrees.  At the north end of Cambridge I could see their headlights way up the line, so I decided to try for the Hwy 210 overpass.  There, I saw a red signal to the south.  Meet!  I parked and walked out onto the overpass to catch 5949 again as they held the main and pulled slowly down toward the opposing train waiting at the south switch.  The Heat Index is visible in that last picture!  The northbound entered the siding and came to the highway bridge at 4:13.  On the point were UP 2966 and 2964.

I drove on south and went by Short Line again on my way home.  Just out of Des Moines I heard a northbound train at Beech getting a warrant, so I drove down to Carlisle to intercept them.  I found another train, a northbound manifest, already tied down in the siding with the head end right at the switch that once led onto the Indianola branch.  The engines on this train were UP 5054, B4136 and CNW 6811.  The second train, a grain empty, arrived at 5:25 behind UP 6573, 9913, SP 7354 and CEFX 7093 (That's the third one of those ex-BN units today!)

Someone's been doing some grading in the area where the Rock Island Carlisle depot once stood (late summer 1967 image) and has unearthed the base of an old signal.

That's It!