Des Moines Morning

Saturday, September 12


Byron and I were to meet in Des Moines for a morning of train watching today.  I was on the highway by 6:30, with a bit of fog in the low spots and a temperature 64° this morning.  As I passed Hartford on Hwy. 5, I heard the NS yard in Des Moines call the DMO and ask how far out they were.  The reply was, "About five miles."  The yardmaster asked, "So that would be about two hours, then?", referring to the low track speeds on the Des Moines branch.  He was assured that it would only be about one half hour before the train arrived.  I thought it might be possible to catch them, so I headed north on the Hwy. 65 bypass and got off on the Vandalia Rd. exit.

There was no sign yet of the slowly approaching M-WQMDMO, so I drove a short distance to the east and waited at a grade crossing for them to come out of the woods in the Des Moines River Valley.  I gave Byron a call to tell him where I was and to arrange a meeting point.  Just before 7:00, the local rolled out of the fog.  On the point were BNSF 5346, 509 and 4104.  After they passed the grade crossing, I drove west past the train so I could get some more images as they headed south across Vandalia toward the NS yard.  Here are the trailing units, BNSF 509 and 4104.

The somewhat convoluted path this train follows into Des Moines is a consequence of joining the former Wabash (now BNSF) right of way to the former Chicago, Burlington and Quincy (now NS) Yard.  The DMO crew cleared their warrant from "West Restricted Limits Albia" to "East Restricted Limits Des Moines" at 7:15, and were informed that a van was there to haul them back to Galesburg.

I met Byron and we parked near Short Line Junction, on public property of course, not wanting to be mistaken for, "potential terrorists", by Union Pacific employees.  Things were a little slow this morning, but at about 8:30 we went down to Market Street to catch the CPFW, with UP 6481, ex-SP 6401, and 7145.  The dispatcher informed them that they would be meeting one at Williamson and the crew let the dispatcher know that theirs was a "key train", a reference to hazardous materials in the consist.

A few minutes later we caught Job 63 leaving Short Line for Hull yard on the northeast leg of the wye.  Aging four-axle units were in charge, UP 595 and 347.  While Byron and I had been watching for trains, this gentleman had been walking the rails in all directions from the diamonds, gesturing, speaking to the sky and examining various pieces of debris found along the right of way.

Responding to some radio traffic on the NS channel, we drove down to the southeast corner of the city at 9:00 to find diesel fuel tankers being switched by NS 9088.  This is the same rail at which I had photographed the DMO earlier, but the Norfolk Southern is responsible for industry activity after the BNSF delivers the train.

Back at Short Line at 10:00, the southbound M-EADM came by the now-closed Inland Mills elevator and came around the northeast leg into the yard.  On the point were a very dirty UP 4852, followed by 4237, 6568 and 5883.

That's It!