An email from my friend Christopher Kyte a few weeks ago tipped me off that there would be a private car on the California Zephyr this Friday night:
Just a quick note to mention something that may or may not amuse you! While NOT the cute little MCZ train (unfortunately), we are running two 'psuedo-Madison County' trips this fall with a novel twist. On October 3 & October 17th, we are running an ex CB&Q dome from CHI to Osceola (thence dead to Omaha) as the "Madison County Limited". From Osceola, bus to Des Moines and the Covered Bridges et al.It was a very warm (mid-80s) evening for early October, so we decided to go to Osceola for supper and to do some train-watching before the passenger train. We got to Osceola just in time to catch a coal train coming through town at 6:50. On the head end were SD-70 MACs 9455 and 9569, eastbound with GCCX coal loads.
We drove out to the southwest corner of town, ordered a pizza to go and went back to the depot. Just after sunset, at 7:20, another load arrived. This train had PRBX aluminum hoppers with BN 9453 and BNSF 9717 on the point.
Things were pretty quiet after that. The bus that was to pick up the passengers on the "Madison County Limited" came into the depot lot around 7:45 and I went over to have a talk with the driver who was looking for a spot to have supper.
We'd called to check on the passenger train earlier and learned that it was just 10 minutes late out of Galesburg. They made up some of that time, however, and were only 5 minutes late into Osceola at 9:22. A fair-sized crowd awaited the California Zephyr on the north side of the BN double track mains. In tonight's train:
The dome "Silver Scene" had an illuminated sign saying CZ-22 next to the doorway. With an Amtrak attendent in charge, the passengers were moved onto the new platform to wait until they could cross the tracks to reach their bus. Number 5 was away at 9:38, 21 minutes down.
With station attendant J.R. Green, referred to by one of the passengers as "that curmudgeon", making sure no one stepped on the BN's ballast, the Madison County Limited patrons crossed to the depot. One passenger was pretty upset because his bag hadn't gotten off of the train with him. Hey, if retirement's for getting excited about where your luggage is, you might as well just keep working!
The Silver Scene was to continue with its attendants aboard to Omaha and lay over until returning later on Number 6. The passengers were to tour the Winterset (Bridges of Madison County) and Amana Colonies areas and catch their stainless fluted dome again in Burlington for the trip back to Chicago.
Very soon, an eastbound coal load came through behind a trio of green and black GEs - BN 5055, 5014 and 5107. In a few minutes, a following train, consisting primarily of empty autoracks appeared with SF 2871 and BN 2982 on the point.
Amtrak number five was running late and finally reached Osceola and made its first stop at 9:55. In tonight's train:
By the way, I learned from Internet sources that Silver Scene has been laying over in Denver, not Omaha.
If you'd care to learn more about these trips, you can read all about the Madison County Limited at the Train Holidays web site.