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
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
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
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.