My son Byron and I had agreed to meet at United Community High School on Saturday morning to do some railfanning around Boone and to attend the Kate Shelley Division's NMRA meet. I got out of Indianola at 6:45. It was a clear and cool morning, and10 degrees colder in Ames than at home. I had a few minutes to wait for Byron and RITS'er Jeff Spangle spotted me and came over to visit. The meet was being set up but wasn't to open officially until 9:00, so Byron and I headed north for the UP mains.
On the way into the school I'd already spotted a coal empty parked to the east of a gravel road crossing, "V Avenue". Byron and I arrived there just in time to intercept an eastbound manifest. It had an interesting set of locomotives, UP 4195, SP 9764 and CEFX (ex-BN) 7091. The waiting westbound started moving about the same time (8:00). It had CWEX tub gons behind UP 8031 and 6436.
After these two trains, we drove on over toward Boone. We found another westbound stopped at the "Shamrock" crossing with UP 7297 and several other units. 7297 was trailing UP 8019, CNW 8570 and UP 8078. Another fan was already at the crossing and got a picture of the CNW unit as it entered the yard area.
We moved down to the "Hard Road" crossing at the east end of the yard. By now it was rapidly clouding over and feeling much colder out in the wind. Iowa railfan Dave Kroeger appeared and joined us trackside. At 8:15, UP 7297, UP 8019, et al., and its manifest was brought into the yard. That's Dave in the picture, getting closeups of the units.
Three units, UP 8258, SP 234 and UP 6795, were knocking a few loaded company hoppers around in the yard. We also found UP 404 (ex-CNW 4705) and UP Y545 working at the east end. At 8:30 a coal load, IESX cars, came in with UP 7260 and 7112. They made a very quick stop for a crew change and rolled again at 8:34. The CWEX empty that we'd seen out at V Avenue was next, at 8:37. That's Dave again.
We took shelter in the Jeep and drove around Boone for a while. At the old yard office area we found a couple of patched CNW switchers, UP 1328 and 1326, along with UP Y738 and 744. The yard office building is no more - torn down in the last week or so. The track speeder crowd had gathered at the Boone and Scenic Valley for an excursion and were getting ready to leave the depot when we came by around 8:45.
Byron and I saw 8031 one more time as it came to the Division Street crossing just southwest of the B&SV depot. Just to the west of the crossing a stacker was waiting for a signal. They got their light just after 9:00 and came through with UP 9510 and 9144. By now we knew that the model railroad show was open, so we started back east through town. We intercepted one more train, a CIPX empty with UP units 7306 and 7065, at the Shamrock crossing at 9:15.
We found a full parking lot at United Community and a busy registration line. Did you know that November is Model Railroad Month in Iowa? Tom and Sally say "Citizens are urged to seek out and participate in model railroad activities.", so turn off your computer and build a kit or something, okay?
My first stop at the model meet was the Hardin Central modular N gauge setup of Gary and John Klein from Ackley. Trains run through 4 1/2 scale miles of scenery, including a burning building, fishermen and numerous details and operating features. This outfit is available for hire - no web site, but you can contact them by phone at (515) 847-3221.
The Kate Shelley club had an HO modular layout going with an interesting attraction. They had fitted an RDC car with a video camera and transmitter. The image was displayed on a TV receiver at one corner of the layout, giving a track level, engineer's view of the right of way.
Nearby was another N setup, a "Plywood Pacific", reminding most of us of our starter sets and demonstrating how much can be packed into a very small area in this scale. The vendors at the train meet pretty well filled the gym, along with another HO modular layout run by boyscouts and some Garden scale equipment running on the school's stage.
Before heading back into town for some more train watching, we also had a look at the model contest and silent auction. There were a number of contest categories, including steam and diesel locomotives, freight cars, structures, photographs, etc.
Byron and I returned to the B&SV just about the time the speeders were coming back from their outing. Some of these machines are equipped with their own turntables, allowing them to be easily reversed while remaining in place above the rails. I spotted a Rock Island unit sporting flags and a brass bell.
Back at the east end of the yard at 12:35, we found the three units we'd seen earlier starting out with a coal load. On the point, UP 8258, SP 234 and UP 6795, trailing a consist of miscellaneous company hoppers. Throughout our visits to the yard today, we'd been watching a white Cherokee that would buzz around, in and out of the yard, stopping briefly at grade crossings to turn around and return. A MOP, perhaps?
Another coal load, with UP 6857 and 8052 pulling EDGX tubs, came in for a crew change at 1:22. A group of fans was beginning to gather at the Hard Road crossing, and we were joined by Indianolan Paul Speer just before the EDGX load pulled out. There seemed to be a pretty steady stream of coal trains today. The next one arrived at 1:50, WEPX cars with 8267 and 6466. This train pulled again at 1:57 and just east of the yard met a westbound stack train with UP 4468 and 4189.
Yet another coal load was in at 2:15. It stopped on Main 2 so that it could be passed by a grain empty headed for the elevator at Jordan. The grainer came around on Main 1 at 2:20, with UP 6198, 9523, 5057 and 3498. By now there were a number of fans around, several with personalized railroad license plates.
The above load pulled at 2:34, as soon as the grain empty cleared. It had DEEX and DETX cars and was pulled by UP 8274 and SP 216. Byron and I went into town and caught the next one just west of the old depot at 2:50. This was a NORX train with UP 7148, 7252 and SP 199.
At this point we decided to drop in on the model railroad meet again. At the school I picked up directions to the layout tours available and we headed for Bob Bourne's 1 1/2 inch to the foot outdoor "layout" northeast of Boone. This visit turned out to be well worth the trip! Bourne has some 4000 feet of track (1900' mainline) on his "E J & K" railroad. The setup includes some complex track work, an enginehouse and a turntable. You can learn more about the EJ&K on Bob's web site.
At various times of the year live steam locos run here, but today there were two "diesel" switchers and one electric in operation. Byron and I were taken for a ride around the mainline and then both invited to operate the electric unit, under the supervision of Paul Duncan. Three trains were in operation when we were there, with meets facilitated by radio dispatching and spring switches at the ends of the sidings. I spotted another RR plate at Bourne's place.
After our visit to the EJ&K, I took Byron back to his vehicle and he started toward home. I drove back into Boone, stopping by the elevator at Jordan where the West Central GeeP was working on the recently-arrived grain hoppers. Back at the Shamrock crossing at 4:23, I caught up with a DEEX empty waiting for the crew van. They had UP 6662 and SP 245 in front. A load came out of the yard at the same time, CWEX cars with UP 7135 and 6446.
My evening's entertainment was a meeting of the Rock Island Technical Society at the Golden Corral in Boone. After supper, we had a short business meeting with words from several of the active Iowa RITS'ians like the brothers Riebe, Lee Bertholf, Pete Hedgepeth, and John Nelson. The program was provided by George Niles, who narrated a video tape produced from some of his movies, taken decades ago in Iowa and Missouri.
I paid one more visit to the railroad, around 8:00, before leaving for Indianola. An east bound manifest was just pulling away from the yard as I arrived. On the point were UP 9476, NS 6616, UP 9723 and SP 9824. I caught 9476 accelerating under a full harvest moon and then hit the road for home.