Byron came over from Audubon early Saturday morning so that he and I could attend a model railroad meet in Des Moines. After a year or so of debate and planning, it was to be the 50th (and last) meet of the Des Moines Division and the inaugural meet of the new Great Midwestern Division.
I'd heard some discussion of signal problems at Short Line yard on the scanner the evening before, and Saturday's paper had an article saying that there'd been a derailment at "East 17th and Dean", so we drove to Short Line to check it out. The accident had occurred on the northeast leg of the wye entering the west end of the yard, and had even knocked over one of the signals governing the junction. Three cars remained on the ground just west of the curve, a bulkhead flat with lumber that appeared to have rolled over one full turn and landed upright but without its trucks, and an empty tank car and a loaded grain hopper, both on their sides. When we arrived around 8:30, a salvage crew was preparing to vacuum the grain from the hopper car.
We got to the meet, at Des Moines' North High School, just after 9:00 and found that the first clinic was already underway. This was a slide show and discussion of activity in the Des Moines and Boone areas on the former C&NW lines. The clinic was given by Dana Grefe, author of an Iowa train-watchers guide. In addition to the slide show, Grefe had some handouts showing the renumbering of C&NW units by the UP, and discussing the changes in operations in Boone, Iowa.
After Grefe's clinic, we went off to vote in the model contest. Categories for this show were Locomotives, Structures, Rolling Stock, Business Cars and a "Youth (18 and under)" category. Some very nice work was displayed. It was pretty obvious that some of the models in the locomotive category were done by the same person, which made me wonder why a modeler would choose to compete against him/herself in the voting??
We checked out the silent auction (in the Library, of course) and didn't find anything we couldn't pass up. Then it was on to the vendors' area in the school cafeteria to see if there were any good deals available. I picked up the new Spectrum doodlebug (Rock Island, of course) from Cedar Falls' Caboose Hobbies - not in the era I'm modeling, but just too cute to pass up!
In one corner of the cafeteria, DesMoiNTRAK had a small, but very nicely scenic'd modular layout going. A couple of operators were kept busy doing that 0-5-0 thing so popular in N scale.
Byron and I took a lunch break and headed back to Short Line to see how the cleanup was coming. The salvage crew was just finishing their work and loading lengths of pipe back on their flanged wheel equipped truck. We got there just in time to see the BPDM, with UP 5976 and freshly-painted 4441 (ex-SP tunnel motor), come south across the junction and back around the southeast leg of the wye into the yard.
A westbound IAIS train was in the yard when we arrived and was finally allowed to use the diamond at noon. On the point were IAIS 626, 431, 495 (in primer) and 800. After the IAIS train was on its way, we headed back out to the high school for the 1:00 p.m. "feature presentation".
The afternoon program was to begin with a slide show and talk by David Johnson, president of TransGlobal, a locomotive rebuilder and maintenance outfit headquarted in Des Moines. TransGlobal, located adjacent to the UP "Spine Line" in northeast Des Moines on the former Wilson property, has grown very rapidly in the last year to around 20 employees. Some of these people work on rebuilding at the shop while others travel to customers' locations to do on-site service work. Johnson, an ex-Rock Island fireman, stated that he expected more "out-sourcing" of loco maintenance by railroads in the future and that he planned to shift more of his work force into that area.
We also learned more about a former Ohio Electric critter that was supposed to be delivered to T-G some time ago, but which was set out by the UP at Avon, where it rested for several months. Eventually, it found its way to the T-G shop, where it is for sale. Johnson's talk was very interesting and generated lots of questions from the railfans in the audience.
In the evening, we returned to Des Moines to attend the Des Moines area meeting of the Rock Island Technical Society. This meeting is regularly scheduled to follow the model railroad meet. The event was held at the Royal Fork buffet, and after a meal and business meeting, yours truly presented a program on the Indianola Branch and on Rock Island passenger trains in Des Moines.
Jan and I were up early Sunday for a trip to Audubon to visit with a church there about a mission project. After lunch with our kids and some church members, we headed home. We did manage to intercept a westbound IAIS train at 3:00, just east of Booneville. The train had IAIS 481 (in ICG colors) and 801 pulling two tank cars.