Chariton and Osceola
November 11 and 12


Thursday, Nov. 11

We'd heard by email from a friend in Davis that No. 6 had left the coast on Monday with the Orient Express cars cut into the consist. Jan loaded up our daughter and the grandkids on Thursday morning and headed down to Osceola to meet the train (on time for a change!). The extra cars and one of three units had dropped off somewhere between, but she got a nice picture of the train approaching the station. In the consist today:
GEnesis units 28 and 378
Diner 38016 (Deadhead, apparently)
Baggage 1728
Transition Sleeper 39019
Coaches 34049, 34016 and 31590 (Smoking)
Sightseer Lounge 33020
Diner 38010
Sleepers 32053 and 32036
Material Car 1428
Baggage 1729
No freight today, just an extra diner.

Jan and the kids stuck around for a couple of additional trains, but didn't try to take any more pictures. At 9:30, a work train with a caboose (10165), ballast cars, and EMD 797 backed out of the north yard and went east out of town. At 10:00, a westbound DEEX empty with LMX 726 and BN 9483 and 9613 came in and crossed over from Main 2 to Main 1. They were followed closely by another train of DEEX, ECFX, GCCX and DETX cars that did the same at 10:20. On the point were BN 9623 and 9699.


Friday, Nov. 12

Jan had taken her folks to a funeral out in Atlantic on Friday. Iowa was enjoying unseasonably warm temperatures and so I decided to take the afternoon off and go do a little train-watching. I headed out Hwy. 92 toward Beech and the UP's Spine Line first. From the radio I learned that a northbound with a Rio Grand unit (5371) in the lead was headed toward me. I pressed my luck and went all the way to Melcher, getting there just in time to see them race through town. Three UP units trailed, the last two were 9309 and 9536. The train appeared to be entirely empty grain hoppers. The detector reported 324 axles, 50 mph and 59 degrees. It was 12:10 in the afternoon.

(For the photographers out there, I've turned off the Oly DL-620's automatic White Balance. I found that I was getting too many sets of pictures taken at the same time and place with entirely different colors in them. For this excursion and the one following, I used a fixed daylight setting of 5500 degrees Kelvin for all of the non-flash shots.)

I drove on down to Chariton. Along the way I could hear traffic stacking up on both sides of Chariton due to track work. A work train was given a warrant to come up Whitebreast Hill on Main 1, so I went to the west end of the yard in Chariton to await them. As they got closer I could tell from the radio conversation that they must be backing their train. Pretty soon the caboose came into sight. It was the same crummy we'd seen a while back in Albia, BN 10165. The engine was an old Santa Fe unit relettered for BNSF. They backed into a north yard track around 1:15.

A rail detector was working out west of me somewhere and by 1:45 had found all the 10 mph spots that could be handled today, so they were directed to tie up at Osceola.

I decided to go east and meet some of the westbounds stacked up between Chariton and the CTC at Halpin. Just east of Chariton, I encountered a ballast regulator making track speed westbound. It was off to join "the circus", as I heard it described on the radio.

I'd heard three with warrants who were waiting to go. By the time I got to Russell, I could see headlights to the east. The first train, at 1:52, turned out to be BN 9562 and 9694 with empty CEPX gons. Carmen were working on a bulkhead flat that had been set out in the stub track at Russell. They finished up at 2:00. In just a few minutes, the next westbound came into town. This was another empty, DEEX cars, built 7-99, behind BN 9558 and 9596. As it turned out, I'd see this train several more times this afternoon.

I knew there was at least a third westbound train, with a Norfolk Southern lead unit, but at about this time things ground to a halt. The 9558 parked itself between a couple of gravel road grade crossings west of Russell and I drove back into Chariton to see what would move next.

I took up a comfortable position near Roland Street in Chariton, worked the crossword and listened to the radio. By 2:50, the two westbounds were still sitting out east of town and the Kansas City dispatcher said that he had three eastbounds out of Creston. BN 9562, that I'd seen in Russell, was running out of time and would have to tie down and be relieved somewhere between Woodburn and Osceola.

It was 3:45 before anything made it through town. The first easbounder had trouble on Whitebreast due to a traction motor being cut out. (At least they thought it might be - one screen showed it so and the other did not.) This first train had CIPX loads, behind MAC's 9552 and 9424.

They were followed up the hill at 4:05 by another load, BNSF 8166, EMD 9086 (aka Oakway) and BN 9200 with BNSF cars. BNSF 8166 had horns to match its paint scheme and was as hard on the ear as on the eye. I decided to change location for the next eastbounder, which I figured was probably already on its way up the hill.

I went out to the west edge of town and took up a position in the back of the County Home Cemetery. At 4:26 I caught the next coal load (they seem to come in threes on this railroad), BNSF 8866 and 9760 pulling DEEX cars (6-99 build date). As you can see in the pictures, 4:30 is late in the day this time of year in Iowa.

I moved on west to the bottom of the hill where a track gang was just getting off the rails at Shannon. Dispatcher SSW, sounding impatient, decided to reverse the waiting westbounds and then changed his mind when the track workers cleared up. The train with the NS unit called in to say that they were having trouble with the air on NS 1631, the main reservoir pressure having dropped while they waited near Russell. This seemed to be working okay again, however, their other unit, UP 595, had run out of fuel and was shut down. They said that they'd pointed out the fuel problem in Galesburg but were told to leave town anyway.

A good collection of cranes, pile drivers and other miscellaneous equipment was in the spur at Lucas. At about 4:40, the westbounds started getting their warrants to come through Chariton and down the hill. At 5:00, I got another look at BN 9558, first seen in Russell three hours earlier. I decided to pace them west to Osceola.

I got to the depot in Osceola just in time to see 9558 one more time (5:23), but not in time to set up the flash for another picture.

The next train was an eastbound, DEEX, BN and GCCX loads with BN 9627 and BNSF 8930. OS Osceola 6:09. I went exploring and found the track inspection car, SRS 145, parked north of the depot with it's diesel power plant rattling along loudly through the night.

The westbound limping along behind NS 1631 and dead UP 595 rolled in at 6:28. They were pulling empty BN and GEAX hoppers. On the radio I heard that the outbound crew for it had been on duty since 3:45. The train would probably have to be fueled before going on.

The last two trains I caught before going home were also westbound coal empties. (Where are the freight trains on this railroad?) The first was BNSF 9770 and 9742 with WPSX cars. They were by the depot at 6:45. The next train was in at 7:00 with BNSF 8883 and BNSF 8858 pulling BN and BNSF hoppers. I'd heard this train get its warrant at Albia at 4:54, so things were finally picking up a bit on the KC sub.

At bedtime (around 11:00) Friday night, I heard the dispatcher searching for power to help a load up the hill at Albia - seems the Distributed Power gear had gone belly-up. There was discussion on the radio with Mechanical about how to disable the data link. I believe 9832 was the lead unit.

That's It!