Spine Line and Marshalltown
Saturday, December 6
The mid-week forecast of a sunny Saturday was not accurate
and the day came up cold and foggy, the air temperature in the upper 20's
with wind blowing across the snow. I was desperate to get trackside,
however, and my final exams were printed and ready to go, so around 8:15
I headed north out of Indianola. It wasn't long before I heard some
radio chatter indicating that a northbound was leaving Beech, so I took the
"Scotch Ridge" road over to Carlisle to intercept them.
The train hit the detector between Hartford and Carlisle at 8:43 - 316 axles
at 23 mph. The dispatcher told them that they'd, "almost had a good
trip", because they were going to have to wait on a southbound that was on
duty in Des Moines at 7:00, but it hadn't called for a warrant yet. Later
in the morning I heard them told to tie the train down and bring the power
into Short Line. Here they are coming down
the hill into Carlisle at 8:45, UP 5925 and 9285 with an empty grain train, G-EVBAP according
to a list I received in an email.
I drove on into Des Moines to see if I could catch the southbound the dispatcher
had mentioned. I got to the "BN" crossing
south of Maury at 9:10, just as the southbound, a grain load, was crossing the street to head across the diamond and onto the bridge over
the Des Moines River. Three units led the grain train, UP 4623, HLCX
568 and UP 4127.
I drove back to East 30th, took the viaduct over the east end of Short Line
Yard and went down Dean Avenue to the junction. The new gates on the
northeast leg of the wye were going down for a northbound pulling out of the yard. UP 9229 and 9310
led a a manifest, KSIT around the corner at 9:17.
From the scanner I learned that the dispatcher had the M-KSIT, "lined around
one at Cambridge", so I went north on I-35 and then jogged over to NE 46th
St. to follow the old Rock Island route toward Nevada. I went north
far enough to have a look from an overpass at a southbound manifest waiting
on the main for the KSIT and then parked at the next gravel road crossing
to the south of the siding, NE 158th Avenue.
UP 9229 poked its nose out of the fog at 10:10,
rolled past me at the grade crossing and headed for its meet at Cambridge. About 10
minutes later I could see the southbound coming
out of the siding and up the hill toward me. This train had UP 9425 and 9845 on
I went north to Nevada behind the KSIT, which received a warrant to leave
the CTC and go to Buckeye at 10:40. After a quick pit stop at Casey's,
I observed a couple of westbound stackers, one in town at 10:47 and another
out at the "Hollow" east of town less than 10 minutes later.
I followed old Hwy 30, now E-41, east to State Center and then took to gravel
roads to stay by the UP's two-track mainline on over to Marshalltown. The
gravel was mostly clear of snow, but at a T-intersection (230th and Jesup)
near Lamoille I hit an icy spot and was going too fast to turn or to stop.
The Jeep went squarely into the ditch on the far side of the crossroad.
After feeling relieved that there'd been no cross traffic and that
the air bags hadn't fired, I tried, but found that I couldn't move either
direction. A call to 911 brought a Marshall County deputy and Larry's
Towing & Tire, "The Best Hooker In Town". Before long I was back
on the road, inspected by the deputy and found, "not reportable".
Nothing went by on the mainlines during my little misadventure, but I could
hear the M-DMDM doubling its train together in Marshalltown. I checked
them out briefly and then went to Taylor's for takeout Maid-Rites. Back
by the rails with my sandwich and shake at 12:15, I watched the "DuM-DuM"
pull out onto Main 2 as an eastbound coal load
came in on the north track. CIPX and NCUX cars were led by UP 7002 and 6756.
Less than 15 minutes behind the coal load was a manifest
led by UP 4446 and 9070. After they came through, I caught the next train, a stacker, at the east end of the yard at 12:40. This one had plenty of power, UP 4183, 9355, 4050, with CSX 8608 and 7386. Meanwhile
the DMDM appeared to be ready to go west, but waited out at West Marshalltown.
Once the DMDM pulled, I drove out to Lamoille to watch
them come by and get some pictures. I got a bonus there, as another eastbound came into sight at the same time.
After "guestimating" the two trains' speeds I decided to shoot from
the north side of the tracks. The DMDM was powered by two units, UP 2958 and 3044. The two trains met right at the grade crossing at 1:10.
The eastbound was a manifest
powered by UP 6163 and 9456.
With 117 cars and two units, the DMDM wasn't moving very fast. Even
when driving a bit more cautiously on the gravel, I overtook the train at
a grade crossing northeast of State Center and waited for it to pass again.
After leaving State Center, I went ahead of the train to the crossovers
at Clear Creek and got some more pictures as it approached
in the fog and frost.
Interestingly, the DMDM was lined across to the
north main at Clear Creek. Since the train
was Des Moines bound, they would be passing back over to Main 2 before long
in order to take the "KC Junction East" switch off of the E/W main tracks.
I stayed with them to "Devil's Hollow" and stopped for a windshield
shot as they crossed old Hwy. 30.
There was a northbound grain empty in the Nevada siding, just turning off
the headlights as I drove by. I decided to try to catch the DMDM coming
around the "mixmaster" west of Nevada and then go back to the siding if possible.
UP 2958 showed up on the "Nevada Sub." just
after 2:00, came around the west leg at "Chicago
Junction" and hurried off toward Des Moines.
By this time I could hear a southbound on the Mason City Sub. clearing up
and the grain empty I'd seen a few minutes ago getting a warrant to head
north. I decided to wait at Chicago Junction for the southbounder,
the M-SSDM. It appeared at 2:20 with ex-CNW
UP 3077 and a second unit whose number I didn't
I drove on south to Des Moines and arrived at Short Line around 3:00. An
M-DMSS train was ready to leave the yard with
CP 5993, CP 5641 and LLPX 2238. The DMDM
arrived at 3:30 and took the switch onto the northeast
leg of the wye into the yard. This black Cherokee
couldn't wait and drove around the new gates
in front of 2958. After seeing the head end make its left turn
into the yard, I headed for home.