Oskaloosa Walkabout

Saturday, October 1


Near the end of August I received an email from John Bandstra describing an "Oskaloosa Walkabout".  This was to be a tour of the town, visiting sites of railroad historical interest.  Oskaloosa, now served only by the Union Pacific, had several railroads in its past, including the CRI&P, M&StL, and CB&Q.  The town once also had its own trolley system, the Oskaloosa Traction and Light.  The Penn Central Model Railroad Club was to open at 10:00 and the tour to commence at 1:00.

I left the acreage fairly early on Saturday and, having heard the UP dispatcher setting up a meet at Beech, drove the short distance over to the bridge at the south end of the Beech siding to wait for the trains.  A northbound was stopped just a few miles south of the siding waiting on a southbound out of Des Moines.  I heard the southbound trip the Hartford detector, registering 332 axles, at 7:45.  The headlights of the southbound train appeared at 8:00.  This train (perhaps an M-CPKC?) had CN power.  After rolling to a stop on the mainline, the conductor walked to the switch and lined it for the siding.

The northbound, a relatively short manifest, came around the corner at 8:16, rolled under the bridge and headed into the siding under the watchful eyes of the waiting crew.  On the point were UP 4850, UP 768, CSX 8203 and HLCX? 6505.  Once in the clear, the southbound's conductor lined the switch back for the main, reboarded his train and they started south.  The lead unit, CN 5559, was a full hood affair, rarely seen around here.  Trailing was CN 5358.  Both units featured bells high on the nose and a full set of classification lights.

I drove next down to Albia.  Along the way I heard the Zephyr report out of Osceola at 9:17 and figured to catch them at Maxon around 10:00 or shortly after.  Out at Maxon, I found a burned out "Speedswing" parked where the BNSF used to have small frame shack.  That building was put up years ago to hold a phone and FAX machine for the M. of W. forces, but that procedure was abandoned and radioed track warrants substituted.

The passenger train crested Albia Hill on Main 2 at 10:11.  On the point were AMTK 192 and 155.  The consist appeared to be the usual set, but included a couple of ExpressTrak plug door cars on the rear.

I took the highway northeast out of town and drove through Eddyville on the way up to Oskaloosa.  I could hear someone switching on the UP's branchline channel, and once I got to Osky, it was obvious they were in town.  I drove up to the south end of the yard and found Job 44, with UP 397 and 394, working cuts of cars there.

After getting a few pictures of the Eddyville branch train, I went over to the mall and checked in on the Penn Central Club.  They had several trains circling their modular layout and also had the Sn3 (S scale running on HO track) winter scene layout going.  John Bandstra invited us to have lunch together at a nearby pizza buffet before we set out on the "Walkabout".  John provided maps and had done quite a bit of research and organizing for this affair.

Brian Anderson from Boone climbed in with me and we caravanned to assorted sites in town.  Quite a bit of time was spent looking at now-empty lots and comparing things on maps.  At one point we did manage to catch the Eddyville turn running light power back north.  Later, after Brian found me back in the car working the crossword, he noted that for some of us, railfanning needed to involve trains.  Pretty insightful.  I tagged along until, at about 4:15, the entourage spent some time inspecting a manhole cover.  At that point I took Brian up on his offer to ride with someone else and I headed back toward Pleasantville.

That's It!