IAIS Steam In Des Moines

Thursday, November 11


The Iowa Interstate announced plans to run a steam-powered special train to Council Bluffs on Nov. 11 and return on Nov. 13.  This was planned to coincide with an anniversary affair at the Union Pacific, and a visit by UP's steamer, 844.  I got away early, 6:30, on Thursday morning and drove to Des Moines.  I did not know if the train had already been run to Des Moines, where it was to pick up passengers at the old Rock Island depot at 10:00, or if it was going to move west from Newton this morning.  I surveyed the route, starting at the East 30th St. viaduct, through downtown Des Moines and all the way out to Valley Junction - no sign of the train yet.

I returned to the Short Line Jct. area and parked just off of Dean Ave. to listen to the scanner and wait for the train.  About 8:50 I heard IAIS 7081 "partial clear" their warrant with a location of MP 342.  That placed the train near Mitchellville.  By 9:25 they had reached the east end of Short Line Yard and had obtained permission to come on through.  I relocated to East 18th St., near the grain elevators.  There were a couple of other "buffs" parked nearby watching for signs of the steamer coming through the yard.

They hit the diamond at about 9:30.  I got a shot of them just before they crossed 18th and a good 3/4 of the loco just after crossing.  The Chinese steamer was followed by a tank (water, I assume) and a "tool" car.  (Would it kill you guys to find some paint for these??)  The special had two IAIS business cars, Abraham Lincoln and the observation car Hawkeye.  They rolled to a slow stop at the DMU (NS) stop board before going around the curve south of the capitol.

I got back on the road and hustled into downtown Des Moines.  I took First St. south and crossed the tracks.  A number of people had set up cameras on the west bank of the Des Moines River to record the train, with the statehouse in the background, crossing on the old Rock Island girder bridge.  After the loco crossed First St., I drove south and west, parking on Fifth, at the west end of the depot.  The special pulled down until the 7081 and tender blocked Fifth.  They were to board passengers, some of whom had purchased $100 one-way or $175 round-trip tickets through the Rock Island Technical Society.  Funds received were an attempt to support the RITS museum in Savanna, Illinois, basically a failed enterprise at this point.

While the big ten-drivered loco was stopped, the IAIS crew checked it over carefully.  Just after 10:00, 7081 whistled off and proceeded west through the southwest side of downtown Des Moines.  This whole area seems wide open compared to the Rock Island's days when buildings lined the right of way.

After the special departed, I joined my wife Susan and her brother and sister for lunch at a restaurant in the old RI freight office east of the Fourth St. arch, known today as the "Hessen Haus".  On the way home afterward, I was able to intercept the UP's CPFW as it rolled through Carlisle at 12:20.  Leading were UP 5660, UP 2001 (Olympic Torch Relay unit), and UP 4239.  The detector between Carlisle and Hartford reported the train traveling at 40 mph, and having 450 axles.

The special train returned on Saturday and I got some pictures from my son Byron.  These were taken from an overpass near Hancock, at MP 458.  You'll notice that the weather in Iowa changed a bit between Thursday and Saturday.  Here's 7081 eastbound and making lots of smoke and steam!  Thanks, BT!

That's It!