November 14

The choir had the Sunday off, so Jan and I decided to skip church and do some Iowa train-watching. We had a bright and cool morning with a high in the low 50's forecast. We planned to check out the UP today and drove first to Des Moines and Short Line Yard. When we got there, around 9:00, we found the MDMEA being assembled behind UP 7253 and 3338.

North of the junction UP 1696 was coming down the Fort Dodge line to go west and then come back eastward into the yard. We drove down to the diamond and watched it return. Above the elevator we could see geese flying over the city. They were headed north, perhaps confused by all the warm weather we've been having?

Before long, 1696 was tucked safely back in the yard and it sounded like the Eagle Grove train would be spending some time switching, so we went up to Hull avenue to see a recently-arrived southbound. This train had UP 3665 in front, followed by 3386, 5697, 3017 and 3253.

We next got onto I-35 and headed north to Ames Yard (between Ames and Nevada). We got there around 10:00, just in time to catch a westbound manifest with UP 3020, 2962, 2957, 7528 and 7512. Parked at the west end of the yard were CNW 4702, UP 2513 and 2049, and CNW 4612.

Jan brought up the possibility of Taylor's Maid-Rites for lunch, something that I'd never turn down, so we started east toward Marshalltown. We went over the UP mains out by West Marshall around 11:00 and started on into town, but spotted a westbound from high on the hill, so I turned around and went back to the overpass for a picture. A half-dozen deer jumped out of the brush south of the tracks as the train approached. This was a unit coal load (westbound!), with DRGW, UP, CNW, CHTT, etc. cars and UP 7004, LMS 728 and NS 9038 on the point. We've been seeing quite a few NS units running around Iowa lately - on both the UP and BNSF.

Once in town we went to the east end of the yard first where we found the DMBY at work rearranging its train. At 11:30 a westbound manifest with a block of covered hoppers in front arrived behind UP 8025 and 7122. The DMBY, with UP 3045 and 3041, finally got its train together and pulled out at noon. SP 4869 and CNW 4600 were switching at the east end of the Marshalltown Yard today.

We next explored the old CNW shop area to see what Transglobal had parked outside. On the east side we saw SF 2068, 2071 and 2121, plus an ugly little critter that's been moving around Iowa for the last couple of years.

The UP had some power parked at the engine service area, UP 8297, 8125 and a switcher, CNW 1316. Around on the west side of the Transglobal building, near the turntable, sat the usual collection of CNW scrap, 4189, 4553, 6639, 954 and 4165.

We went around to the north side of the yard where the CHNP had stopped in front of the depot. They did some work at the west end of the yard and were on their way again around 1:00. We noticed a number of containers in the consist with toxic waste warning (PCB) stickers on them. On the head end, UP 9072, 9454 and 3545. Seen also at the west end of the yard, at 1:45, was a coal load, EDGX cars behind UP 8088 and SP 173.

From the dispatcher's comments on the radio, "Okay on the...side" messages, and detector announcements, we knew that a few more trains were approaching Marshalltown. We drove out to a gravel road crossing (Highland Rd.) between the yard and West Marshall. This is a nice photo location, which just happens to have an ostrich farm right across the tracks.

At 2:05, a westbound autorack train came around the corner east of us pulled by UP 8210, 2322 and 3930. We heard them meet an eastbound, which appeared very shortly. This was a manifest with UP 5972, 4277 and 3361.

Before the last eastbound was completely out of sight, we had another westbound. This was an intermodal with UP 7542, 9500 and 6333 in charge.

About this time we heard 5972 report that they were in emergency just west of the depot. Another eastbounder was about to come around them and reached us at 2:30. On the point were UP 9471 and 3136, trailing piggybacks. As 9471 passed, they reported that 5972 had come in two, and then called again called to say that the other train was actually in three pieces!

We went searching for the pieces of 5972's train. One separation was just west of 12th St. On the south side, on the old CGW (?) line sat a train with CNW 8710 and UP 5025 - no idea why it had apparently been backed down here.

The second break was not too far to the east, in an easily accessible location and I got a good picture of the break where the knuckle had separated from the coupler.

One of the two pull-aparts was fixed fairly easily, however the pin was difficult to remove from the other. After lots of discussion about getting a carman to come out, or finding a chain so the car could be pulled into the yard, the knuckle was somehow freed and the train put back together. On my way back from the pull-apart, I noticed this tractor with a high-rail setup.

We went back to the east end of the yard where two units we'd seen earlier, 8297 and 8125, were getting ready to go couple to a coal empty at Powerville. At 3:35 we had an eastbound manifest come through with UP 9739 and 9413. ("Pathetic Horns", Jan has in her notes!) Fifteen minutes later a westbound unit train of UP tub gons with white covers came in behind UP 6579, 7039 and 5945. By this time 5972 was reassembled and about ready to depart.

We started back toward home, stopping in Nevada for a couple of trains. At 4:45 we saw a westbound manifest behind UP 8075, 9245 and CNW 8703. They were met almost immediately by a set of autoracks and containers with CNW 8517, SP 9207 and UP 4405.

We moved just a few blocks west for the next train, a westbound intermodal. I wasted too much time setting up the flash and was a little late on the first shot (Nice closeup of a handrail, though.) The power for this train was UP 9552, 9439 and two more we didn't get.

Our next stop was out at the east end of Ames Yard for some sunset photos. We got one more train, an eastbound with mixed reporting mark coal loads, at 5:05. On the point were UP 8143, 7101 and 8137. The last shot's not reduced in size to my usual format, but since it's dark the file's not any larger. I hope your monitor shows the beautiful sky well. Scroll to the right to see the signals at KC Junction West.

I hung around waiting for another train to picture against the Iowa sunset, but eventually the light was gone and we headed down I-35 for home.

That's it!