Byron, Aaron and I took off for Boone on Saturday morning to check out the model railroad meet and to do some train-watching. We had a sunny and fairly breezy morning and got to the United Community School for the meet around 9:30. We checked out the Iowa Central HO modular layout, which had some C&NW equipment running and which featured some nice structures. Next door was the Kate Shelly Division N scale layout with a burning building and several streamliners in operation.
Large scale Iowa Interstate equipment was operating on the stage in the gymnasium along with a large number of vendors there for the "swap meet". The boys and I took some time to do some shopping before heading over to see the contest models. The contest, judged by popular vote, included the Allegheny observation car "Winona" and a well-detailed UP ballast gondola. Another interesting entry was a sunbather by a track crossing, titled "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend".
Around 11:00 we decided to go look for some real trains and drove up to Jordan and started west toward the UP's Boone yard. We met an eastbound, NPPR just east of the yard at 11:05. On the head end were UP 9673 and 9480. At the east end of the yard, the "hard road" crossing, we met and talked to a couple of railfans from Mason City. While we waited on traffic, the power from the CBPR was switching in the yard beside a tied-down coal load. The lead unit was UP 5949, a nice big SD with a "subwoofer" idle that you could feel from quite a distance away. Trailing was UP 3017.
A CWEX coal load stopped for a crew change at 11:30. This train was powered by UP 7061 and 6621. They pulled again at 11:29, passing some welders working on a switch at the east of the yard. We drove around for a minute and got back to the area just west of the yard office for the next eastbound at about 11:50. This was a stack train pulled by UP 4173, 6219 and 4121. The winged SD-70's are getting to be a routine sight along this route.
We went on into the yard to check out the power there and get some more pictures. We spotted these locos: UP 5961, 5991, CNW 6871, 4400, 4706, 1314 and 1316. We found UP 9980, a hastily re-lettered ex-CNW unit, and UPY 708, with the UP web site URL on the cab!
Back at the east end of the yard at noon, we caught another eastbound intermodal, this time with three winged units, UP 4060, 4041 and 4227. Around 1:30, as light power (UP 5991, CNW 6871 and UP 5961) was coming out of the yard, another eastbound pig train came around on the north side with UP 5078, 3232 and 9264.
We headed east out of the yard, staying beside the tracks, and intercepted two westbounds near Jordan. The first was a manifest at 1:47, with UP 9485, 9681 and 4131 on the point. The conductor was having a little fun with us - here's a closeup. Ten minutes later we had a westbound grain empty with UP 7049 and SP 202 in charge.
We could tell from radio traffic that the eastbounders were piling up between Ames and Marshalltown. We went over east of Nevada and found the CBPR that we'd seen earlier parked near a grade crossing. In the background, you can see another train. This was a piggyback that we'd watched go through Boone with 5078 in the lead. By 3:00, it sounded like things were just getting moving again. We stopped for a minute to see if the light power, waiting at the north end of the Nevada siding on the Spine Line, was going to meet a train or get moving, but the boys had to be back in Des Moines, so we were soon southbound on I-35.
After dropping my sons off at a bookstore, I headed back to Boone for the RITS meet in the evening. This was the usual gorge yourself buffet, followed by a businesss meeting and slide show. Drew Cannon conducted the business meeting and we were then treated to slides from Jeff Spangle and Bryon Weezner's trip south to the RITS annual national meeting in Texas.
Northwest of Laramie lies the tiny town of Centennial, supposedly with population limited to 100 persons. This was until recently a stop on a tourist line out of Laramie, but the rails have been removed. The Laramie end of the line, called the Wyoming/Col orado Railroad, still has a few pieces of equipment, including passenger cars Laramie, Saratoga and Emmet Kelly. This happens also to be home to a Rock Island extended-vision caboose, RI 17017. Here's the other side of 17017, prettied up somewhat...
I headed back for Iowa early on Sunday morning. It was 18 below and clear. The trip back over Sherman Hill was gorgeous, with a great sunrise over the interstate and a train beside me near Buford. However, just east of Cheyenne I ran into a little problem - I-80 was closed in Nebraska! After a brief conversation with a highway patrol-one, I decided check out Kansas today. There were still occasional train-sightings, but most of my attention was focused on getting over the road as quickly as possible. Here's the Jeep somewhere in western Kansas - ridden hard and put away wet, but it came through when I needed it - nice to have the right tool for the job!