I drove south along the UP through Melcher/Dallas and paused briefly at Williamson to check the siding before going on to Chariton. On the way down, I listened to the Kansas City and Ottumwa desk dispatchers talking to their trains. 9734 West and 9410 West were already by Osceola and Chariton respectively. At 7:00, 9554 West cleared a warrant on the Ottumwa sub., came down the hill and, at 7:11 got the "paper" from the KC desk to continue to Creston.
Kevin "Kid" Schelen was on the Ottumwa desk today and was busy talking to the crew of a ballast train, referred to by "KRS" at times as the "Georgetown" train and also as the "U" train. This train was at Maxon and they were discussing where and when it would be dumping. For the time being it was to be stashed in one of the Maxon sidings, since "...you weren't supposed to be working this early." They also found that the ballast train's trailing unit, 1650, was out of "gas".
At 7:23 I heard the Russell detector (MP 328.0) announce a westbound with 210 axles. This train came through the "ess" curves in Chariton at 7:30, a manifest with BNSF 4558 and 8608 on the point. The next westbound was right behind, registering 488 axles on the detector and coming through Chariton at 7:48. BN 9554 and 9579 were leading a set of PSTX tub gons.
I'd planned to move on east along the line, but at 8:02 I heard another westbound (9870 West) getting a warrant at Halpin and also heard KRS talking to UP 5606 West, which was apparently getting close to Maxon. I put in a call to "Julie" to see how the Zephyr was doing and learned that it was expected at Osceola at 9:38, about an hour and a half down from the timetable.
I decided to stay at Chariton for two more, plus whatever eastbounds might appear. I caught the first of these westbounders at 8:36 at Curtis Ave., the west end of Chariton yard. Leading the DP AEPX empty was SD-70MAC BNSF 9870, and bringing up the rear was BNSF 8957. Note the dip in the eastbound rails and, just visible to the left, a large ballast washout. At 8:55 the Russell detector came on again, this time with a 480 axle count. I moved to the Hwy. 14 overpass in Chariton for this train, which had UP power, 5606 and 5853, trailing NORX gondolas with a June '04 build date.
Kevin had two more westbounds, 9857 and 8883, queued up between Ottumwa and Halpin and had notified the ballast train, by now occupying Main 2, that it was "...imperative, I say imperative, you be off the track by 10:00". I decided to make a run for Albia but on the highway I heard the first train giving and getting its warrants, so I went to the west end of the CTC at Halpin and stayed there for both trains.
At 9:44 the first of two empties appeared.
This was a DP train with a set of NCUX tubs. BNSF 9857 led and BNSF 9877
trailed. The second train arrived at 9:55
with DEEX/DETX cars pulled by BNSF 8883 and UP 8090.
Just after 10:00 I learned that a coal load was going to come up to Maxon and would follow Amtrak out of the CTC, so I jumped back on Hwy. 34 and drove to Ottumwa. At the west end of the ICE yard a westbound manifest had stopped for a crew change. On the point were ICE 6448 and 6440.
I drove to the Ottumwa depot and went inside for a "pit stop", leaving
the recorder on while I was away from the scanner. When I returned,
I found that the Ottumwa dispatcher had answered a 9-1-1 call regarding two
crossing gates having been knocked down in Fairfield. I also heard
that it would be after 2:00 before there would be another eastbound out of
Creston. At 10:40 the coal load ahead of Amtrak cleared up at Halpin,
and the CZ cleared about 10 minutes later. At 11:08 5047 West was by
MP 253 (about 25 miles to the east) and at 11:11 Amtrak was copying its warrant
Amtrak's headlights came into sight at 11:30.
The Zephyr pulled down to the Ottumwa platforms
and stopped for about 10 minutes. The engineer called the dispatcher
to report cattle on the right of way, and the outbound
engineer had a look at the front of the loco before boarding. In
the train today:
AMTK 66 and 71
Sleepers 32060, 32048 and 32022
Sightseer Lounge 33000
Coach-Baggage (Smoker) 31042
They rolled again at 11:42. Just 44 axles
now that there's no longer any mail or freight on the rear of Amtrak trains. This also opens
up the line of sight to the rear and someone
was taking advantage of the vestibule view as the train pulled out.
The coal load passed by the passenger train was close behind. I caught them west of the depot at 11:55, CEFX/DTCX cars behind BN 9573 and UP 6552. They headed through the depot and out of town behind the CZ.
Next in line to go east was light power out of the Ottumwa yard, running
to Lockridge to make a pickup and return later in the afternoon. As
yet un-patched BN 1520 and a very tired-looking
ex-SF engine, 528 headed out of town at 12:04.
As the locos approached the Iowa Avenue crossing, this vehicle drove around the gates.