Virtual Train Watching in Missouri

Carrollton - September 9

Byron and I decided that a change of scenery would be good, so he drove over early Saturday morning and we took off south with a general objective of seeing some traffic on the (former) Santa Fe line between Kansas City and Fort Madison.  Both of us had noticed that on this particular morning the RR radio had been very quiet.  I jumped on the Amtrak web site and found that the Chief was 2:33 down, so we thought we might be able to see it at Carrollton or thereabouts.

We cruised the UP yard area in Trenton and I stopped to get a picture of the logo and lettering remaining on the end of an old Rock Island freight house.  There was nothing on the radio to indicate any traffic on the "Spine Line", the dispatcher was very free with track-and-time for maintenance this morning.

We stopped next in Chillicothe.  We'd heard a UP stacker running ahead of us westbound and we learned from warrants on the radio that they'd met an eastbound, 112's train, at Braymer.  We grabbed some snacks at a local convenience store and parked near the IMRL office to wait for the train.  It took longer than we expected, but they finally appeared, with IMRL 233 and 204 and took the siding at 11:00.  Just after I took my picture, I heard Byron say "Look!" and turned around in time to catch a car backing out from under the gate.  That can't be good for your antenna!  (I believe this is what the boys used to call a "Geezer Merc".)  With the eastbound in the siding we decided not to wait on the train they would meet and took off down Hwy. 65 again.

We got to Carrollton around 11:40, a fairly easy drive and well ahead of No. 4.  We parked the Jeep in a wide grassy area between the tracks and the pole line, presumably on company property.  (I mention this because one Ernest Robl is publishing a "How-To" book on railfanning, and has made his chapter on safety available on the web.  Check it out, but be sure to have your steel-toed boots, safety goggles, hard-hat, etc. on hand.  Oh, and no shorts - shorts would not be "appropriate".)

The depot's at approximately MP 386 and there's a detector to the east at 382 and some nearer grade crossings.  To the west there are a couple of grade crossings far enough out to give you some warning.  Traffic here moved pretty fast and seemed to be mostly intermodals.  An elevator across the street from the depot was buzzing with activity, unloading truckloads of corn as fast as possible.  They had an old GeeP switcher, Midwest Rail 201.

Our first train, at 11:50, was an eastbound piggyback behind BNSF 4644, 8212, 5474 and 4668.  The eastbound Southwest Chief blasted through Carrolton at 12:32.  The first of the three units was 93 and they were by in a flash.  Here's Byron awash in the train's "bow wave" - sorry about the shorts.

The NS main comes into Carrollton just a couple of blocks south of the ATSF depot.  The two lines combine just west of town at "WB Junction".  On this day a bridge repair project kept us from driving directly south to the NS line, but  we did manage to catch some traffic on it.  Just a few minutes after the Amtrak train came through, we detoured down to the NS line and found two trains and some light KCS power.  NS 8987 and ex-WC MRL 1744 had a westbound manifest that met an eastbound one at the junction.  On the eastbound train were CSXT (CR) 7114 and HLCX 7149, one of the BN's natural gas units.

Byron and I drove over through the next two towns to the west on the combined NS/SF line, Norborne and Hardin.  In Hardin we spotted a switcher marked for the Ray-Carroll County railroad, RCC 1221.  Our timing was off a bit on this leg of the trip and the BNSF kept running intermodals by us when we were out of position.

Back at the junction southwest of Carrollton at 2:00, we did manage to see one westbound NS manifest with NS 8774, UP 3211 and SF 839.  Back at the SF depot at 2:36, we caught another westbound, an autorack train behind BNSF 6350 and 4509.  After this train we started back up Hwy 65.

Back in Chillicothe, we found an eastbound IMRL train that had been doing some switching and which was just putting its train back together.  They had a long string of locos, 8925, 232, 202, 220 and 203.  We thought the last two might not have been running, however.  They pulled at 4:00 and headed around the curve toward the northeast.  We heard horns to the south and went to investigate.  We found Chillicothe-Brunswick Rail Authority loco, CBRA 4485, just stopping in front of the old union depot.

At Trenton on the way back we once again went to check out the UP and met a southbound grain train.  They came by us at 4:45 with UP 5945, Grafittied 3018 and SP 180.  Before we left town we went over to the east side of the yard for a picture of UP 1621 and of the remains of the Rock Island roundhouse.

We made one more stop on the way home, in Humeston to see the union depot, under restoration.  A window sign invites those who'd like to help to call 877-4971.  That's "help" as opposed to breaking out the windows...  They also have a water tank near the depot.

That's It!