Thursday and Friday were fall break at Simpson, so Jan and I took off for some train-watching and an overnight visit to Kansas City. We drove first to Osceola and then followed the BNSF line west.
At Creston, two coal loads were parked in the yard awaiting crews, BN 9514 and 9428 with UCEX and ACCX cars, and BN9445 and 9413 with CEPX cars. At the west end of the yard, a crew was at work installing some new track. On the west end of a cut of cars stood SF 3423 and BN 2915.
We hung around Creston long enough to see one more coal train arrive, at 9:40. This train had BNSF 9796 and BN 9437 in front of DEEX and GCCX loads. As the train was just about to clear New York Avenue, it went into emergency. The train was inspected and a new crew took it on eastward at 10:18.
We set out to intercept Amtrak, which was at that time expected at Creston at 11:30. Figuring that we were getting close to it, we stopped in Villisca beside a coal empty of LRDX and WRDX cars that was awaiting the passenger train. At 11:09, the California Zephyr came by the empty coal hoppers with engines 30 and 82. One of the new gray boxcars, AMTK 71010, was near the rear of the train.
We drove to an overpass just west of Villisca and watched the empty, headed up by BNSF 9719 and BN 9482, pull out onto the mainline and continue westward.
At Red Oak, where we stopped for lunch, we found the old BN depot fenced off from the right of way with its windows boarded up. On the doors were notices that the building was "eligible for National Historical Registry" and that damage to it was a federal crime.
We cut south and west, following the BN branch to Shenandoah. We stopped there long enough to get a picture of "The Depot" deli and lounge, with a monument to native sons Phil and Don just outside.
We continued southwest, intercepting the BN's "St. Joe" line at Hamburg, just north of the Missouri border. From there, we went down I-29 through St. Joe. We began running into traffic on the line near Halls. At 2:40, we met a westbound ribbon rail train with SF 3006 and BN 8005. (Westbound trains are heading north geographically here.)
In a few minutes, we caught up to a coal load waiting in the siding at Armour. This train was pulled by three units, BN 7887, 7817 and EMD (A.K.A. "Oakway") 9052, and had GRDX gons. Just north of Sadler, at 2:55, we met westbound BN 9648 and BNSF 9804 with KCLX cars. Five minutes later, at Sadler where a crew was repairing a grade crossing, we saw another empty, of DEGX cars behind BN 9714, 9450 and BNSF 9783.
One of my objectives in the trip was to meet Steve Rosnick, with whom I've corresponded a number of times on the Internet. Steve has recently opened a model railroad hobby shop called the Destination Train Center in Lenexa. The shop is located on Santa Fe Trail, and the front window looks right at a BNSF mainline. While I was inside introducing myself, a local consisting of BN caboose 12606, a cut of cars, BN 2810, another cut of cars, and caboose 12416 shuffled back and forth in front of the store.
The store has a nicely done N scale layout, divided into several scenes, operating for visitors to watch. Steve, who is an expert on digital command control for model railroads, spent much of his time while I was around the store advising folks on installations and DCC products. He's available to you, too, via the Internet at DTC. After meeting Steve and promising to return in the evening, Jan and I had a look up and down Santa Fe Trail, and found a grain train at Charley with BN 3517 and 6803.
We returned to DTC after supper and I had an interesting visit with Steve about his business. Before leaving the store for the evening, I managed to get an invitation to see Steve's home layout in the morning. Jan and I then went off and explored the BNSF yard and engine facilities in K.C. until bedtime.
On Friday morning, we went out early and watched traffic at Santa Fe Junction for a while before going out to Steve's house for the layout tour.
Steve's large (18 x 36) HO layout was of particular interest to me because it is based upon the BN between Burlington and Albia in 1974. Steve has taken full advantage of all three dimensions of the basement room holding the layout, and has incorporated a helix to move trains between two of the layout's levels. Naturally, the contol system uses the latest DCC technology, and Steve was able to demonstrate all the bells and (literally) whistles.
Here are some pictures of Steve Rosnick's layout:
We decided to follow the IMRL and UP Spine lines back toward home, so we drove first to Polo, Missouri where the two lines separate. We'd heard one radio message regarding an IMRL train with passenger excursion equipment on the line, and hoped to intercept it, but failed to do so.
On the IMRL line, we stopped first in Chillicothe, where I got a picture of Chillicothe Brunswick Rail Authority 4485. Further up the line, at Loredo, we found a westbound IMRL local switching the elevator. On this train were IMRL 203 and an obviously ex-CNW SD, IMRL 367. In the cut of empties for the elevator were some ROCK cars, now lettered for RUSX.
After leaving Loredo and giving up on the IMRL passenger equipment, we went over to the UP and stopped at Trenton where CNW 4628 was switching in the yard.
We followed the Spine line to Chariton and stopped there long enough to catch a couple of BNSF trains. A coal load, of DEEX gons, was passing through town just as we arrived at 3:45. At 3:52, an empty went west with BNSF 9777, BN 9621 and 9538 with UCEX and ACCX cars. Twelve minutes later, another load came through with HLMX and LRDX cars behind BN 9512 and 9702. A work train was tied up in the Chariton yard with BN 2940 on the point.