Foggy Saturday

Short Line and Marshalltown

Saturday, September 6


Byron came over Friday evening and stayed at the ranch so that we could get an early start on some train chasing on Saturday.  The morning was foggy and cool, 52°, as we drove toward Des Moines on Hwy. 5.  The first move we caught once we got to the Short Line Jct. area was Job 89X, on its way to deliver 21 cars to the NS yard southwest of the junction at 8:15.  They called the other line and were told where to set out the cars, and to not leave cars on the mainline this time.  The yardmasters said he'd "Make it simple, the south track is 'out of service'".  We caught the transfer as it approached East 18th St. with UP 918 providing motive power.  They almost disappeared in the fog when they pulled up to the stop board west of us.

Clued in by the yardmaster on the radio, we moved to Market St. to see the M-DMAS (Des Moines, Alton & Southern in St. Louis) manifest as it rounded the south leg of the wye at 8:23 and crossed the NS diamond with UP 9258 and 1846.  We then drove around to a parking area north of the IAIS/UP diamond to await traffic.  We caught UP 918 returning from working the NS yard and then had a southbound through the junction, the M-CPFW.  On the point of this train were UP 8572, 5944 and 2221.   They headed across the IAIS rails at 8:50.

Just after 9:00 the M-MCDM arrived behind UP 4768, 4891 and 4005, and came around the north wye track into Short Line Yard.  As they were entering, Job 1 with UPY 1315 and UP 1229, came out across the diamond while switching other yard tracks.

Byron and I took a quick break at a local convenience store and then went up to Easton Ave. where yesterday's M-DMDM was dropping a cut in Hull Yard before coming through the crossover from the Hull Industrial Lead onto the mainline and south to Short Line Yard.  The "DumDum" had four units, UP 4042, 4030, 8187 and 6997.  They went under I-235 at 9:45.

We listened to the dispatcher setting up warrants on the rails south of Short Line and knew that it would be quite a while before there was anything coming north.  We'd also heard of no other southbound traffic, so we decided to head for the "mixmaster" at Nevada.  We found trackwork underway there, with a grade crossing on the north KC Junction wye torn up.  We continued east on old Hwy. 30 to see what we could intercept.  Between Nevada and Colo, we heard a train report a "car parked on the north side of the tracks at Clear Creek".  The dispatcher asked the crew for several pieces of additional information, including a description of the car and occupant.

We got to Clear Creek at 10:50, just as a car drove away to the east.  A MARX coal empty was waiting for signals on the south track, and in a few minutes we had a short manifest come through eastbound.  This train had UP 7200 and 9780 on the point, and turned out to be the M-BOBO, Boone to Marshalltown and return job.  They cleared the switches at 11:00 and the empty then received a red over green indication.  The MARX cars were led by UP 6610 and 8035, and crossed over to the north rail before accelerating west.

We chased the BOBO through the country between State Center and West Marshall, arriving in time to get some pictures as they approached the highway underpass.  Except for the arrival of the BOBO, things were pretty quiet at the Marshalltown yard.  We got some Maid Rite sandwiches and went to the east end of the yard to have lunch and monitor traffic.

Back at the west end, we caught a westbound stacker at 12:46 behind UP 4824 and 4914.  This train crew called the dispatcher and reported a red Cherokee "parked pretty close to the tracks", but there were no follow-up questions and, though we spent a couple of more hours near the yard, we were not hassled by the police or anything.  The Jeep, by the way, had a little anniversary while I was on my way to my evening class yesterday (Tuesday, 9/9) afternoon.  It's a testament to regular oil changes and lots of highway miles.  I think it is unfortunate that this vehicle is no longer manufactured.  Go anywhere and get pretty good mileage while doing so.  I'd get a new one in a minute if I could.

The BOBO had dropped its cars and was moving back toward the west end of the yard at 1:09 when the M-PRCB arrived.  The BOBO crew found after making the 9870 the leader that the "motion light" was inoperative.  This led to quite a bit of discussion with the dispatcher, and eventually a rules determination regarding the unit's fitness for the return trip to Boone.

The PRCB, with UP 4520, 4605, 4457 and 397, was to set out 43 cars, go back and get the next 24 from their train and then return to the yard for their pickup.  Additionally, they were to set out the 397 and pick up a unit still in CNW paint, UP 6718, before continuing west.  Due to a number of missteps, they were still trying to complete this work two and a half hours later.  They first managed to stop the train with the cut point beyond the yard lead, requiring someone to go to the east end and protect the crossing as they backed the train a few cars east.  With the drop cars in the yard, they found that one car had been left on the train that should have been in the set out, requiring another trip to the main and back.  With each move seemed to come a missed estimate of the number of cars to a stop, so the whole process went pretty slowly.

At 1:48 an eastbound CWEX coal load came by the PRCB, led by UP 5692, 5653 and trailed in DP by UP 5848.  At 2:08 we had a westbound, mostly tank cars, with UP 9787, an EMD 909? and NS ?928.  The only foreign power of the day, and I missed both shots! At 2:20, we took up a position on the south side of the yard to watch the PRCB switching.  In this shot, they have returned for a white tank car that missed the cut.

At 2:24 a set of empty EDGX tubs came around the PRCB with exceptionally dirty UP 7099, 5906 and 6457.

3:00 - PCRB still switching...

3:05 - UP 6811 and 6756 on the point of a coal load.  UP 7256 trailing.

3:30 - The PRCB is now setting out the UP 397 and getting ready to pick up the 6718 before getting back on the head end of their train.  We decided not to wait for the end and started south back toward home.

That's It!