This November Saturday in Iowa was clear and cool,
24 degrees, with a forecast high of 50. I left the acreage around 7:20
and headed toward Chariton. An early call to "Julie" put the Zephyr
just 34 minutes down today. They would make up a few minutes before
their stop in Ottumwa this morning. The scanner was active as I drove
south parallel to the UP's "Spine Line". "A.L.M", Adrienne, was on the
Kansas City desk and "K.R.S.", Kevin, on the Ottumwa side. ALM had
one eastbound with a crew aboard at Creston and another called for 8:00.
Kevin handed a westbound, BNSF 8272, over to the KC side at 7:30. I
decided to see if I could catch this one at Chariton. They rolled 484
axles by the Russell detector (MP 328) at 8:08 and came into the curves in Chariton a couple of minutes later. BNSF 8272 and 9727 were leading a set of CEFX/DTCX
empties. Examining the above long telephoto pictures got my curiosity
up, and I went to Microsoft's "Terraserver" to see what the
track alignment looks like from above. Here's the aerial view, with a red arrow indicating the camera
location and a green one showing the train, which in the first image is just
passing over the old route of Hwy. 34 through town.
Kevin's litany of sorrows was just beginning for the day. He informed
the DENGAL, waiting at Halpin, that "Galesburg don't want you.", and that
he currently had trains stacked up all the way back to Mt. Pleasant. They
were told to come up Albia hill, wait at Maxon and follow Amtrak to Ottumwa.
Already short on time, this crew would end up being relieved at Ottumwa
by a "deadhead" crew riding the Zephyr.
There was some discussion of stopping the passenger train adjacent to the
freight and dropping off the crew, but that plan was rejected by KRS because
it would, "...count against me." I assume this was a reference to the
penalty a dispatcher is assessed for delaying Amtrak. The Zephyr
would come around the DENGAL, the relief crew would ride to Ottumwa, and a
van would take them back to their train.
The westbound GALLIN had been sent out of Galesburg with too many tons for
the power and had stalled on the hill at Burlington. They, too, would
require a "dog catch" crew early in the afternoon. To make KRS's day
more interesting, the "Slot Machine", articulated cars with a back hoe aboard,
wanted to occupy Main 1 east of Maxon.
I decided to head pretty much directly for Ottumwa, but as I neared Albia
I heard the detector east of Maxon report 516 axles on Main 1. I decided
to go for the yard and see if I could catch them coming through town. Just
before 9:00 I managed to get this through-the-windshield
shot of the head end, BNSF 8869. Trailing the FURX cars was BNSF 9808. I noticed an engine, BNSF 9259, parked with the spreader on the Des
Moines branch run-around track. I then took off for Ottumwa and missed
a westbound, BNSF 9590, following closely behind the 8869.
The Zephyr came into sight at 10:15. AMTK 175 was in the lead. Ottumwa is a relatively
long stop, with time for a smoke and to tend
to other needs. I didn't know you could take your dog on the train!
The dog catch crew for the DENGAL found their van and arranged to go get something to eat before
meeting their train. In ten minutes or so the outbound engineer finished
his conference with the conductor and boarded
the lead unit. After one false start they high-balled, reporting the
stop as, ":14 and :33" to the dispatcher. In the train today:
AMTK 175 and 138 (Ottumwa local headlight in the distance)
Interestingly, the train was trailing one high-tech "Satellite Controlled" reefer. I guess the freight's not gone entirely.
Transition Sleeper 39008
Sleepers 32049 and 32043
Sightseer Lounge 33024
Coaches 34082, 31515 and 35002
I drove to Clay Street, the first crossing east of the ICE diamonds to catch
the dog catch on the DENGAL. The crew change
started at 10:43 when the lead units pulled across the grade crossing and
and the inbound crew dropped off. After
a long conference by the van, the outbound
engineer started a very thorough inspection of his units.
I drove back down to the depot area to wait for the DENGAL to come by. At 11:06 they rolled slowly
by the depot with BNSF 5263 and 2836 on the point.
I later heard the detector on Agency hill count 406 axles, or 99 cars
on this one.
KRS gave a warrant to another eastbound at Maxon at 11:18. This train arrived in Ottumwa at 12:05 with CEFX/GEAX tub
gondolas pulled by BNSF 9937 and 9516. They
were moving at a pretty good clip going by the depot but slowed on the hill,
reaching the Agency detector at 12:41, with a reading of 452 axles.
The next thing to move was the Ottumwa local,
out of the yard at 12:30 and headed for the Cargill spur. The local
had three units today, EMDX 762, BNSF 4266 and EMDX 771.
By this time KRS had talked to two more westbounds near Fairfield, 9206
and 9833. He also had the work train out on Main 1 near Maxon with
a "Work Between" (Item 4) warrant. After some discussion, they were
told to clear up on the Des Moines branch by 1:30 for westbound traffic.
With the work train holding an Item 4 warrant, nothing could be let into
their limits behind them, and the local could not get into the Cargill spur.
The work train called the dispatcher and offered to give up their warrant
and take a "directional" (Item 2) instead so the local could come into their
limits, but were told, "That doesn't help me." They radioed back to
the local, "We tried...". "Yeah, I know. Whatever!" I got
to Maxon in time (1:27) to catch the work train
racing for the run-around track on the Des Moines branch. BNSF 4256 was leading a set of articulated gondolas
carrying a back hoe and a load of what appeared to be mud.
I decided to go to the depot to have a look at the "Slot Machine" and noticed
along the way that Albia now has some railroad equipment on display. The
Monroe County Museum includes a CB&Q locomotive,
RE 602 and a caboose,
At the Albia yard I found the work train nosed
up to the 9259 that I'd spotted earlier. By this time things were
starting to move between Ottumwa and Maxon, so I went back out there to meet
the delayed GALLIN as it came into town around 2:15.
They were to go down the hill and wait at Halpin for a relief crew
coming over from Creston. On the head end of the 122 car manifest were
BNSF 9206 and BNSF 6846.
Next up at Maxon was a coal empty running on
Main 2, just 10 minutes behind the GALLIN. This set of COEH tub
gondolas was a distributed power train with BN 9833
in front and BNSF 8878 behind.
After those two were out of the way, I drove down to Halpin to check out
the waiting GALLIN. Just before 3:00 a WFAX hopper coal load went up the hill behind BNSF 8882 and BNSF 9752.
As they passed the waiting freight train,
the crew van from Creston arrived. Re-crewed,
the GALLIN rolled westward again at 3:12. I
watched them take off and then went west
myself toward Chariton. After a quick pit stop at Casey's I heard the
train hit the Russell detector, so I went out to the HyVee crossing west of
town for one more picture, at 4:00, before heading
home. The sun surely gets low in the sky early these days!