Simpson's "dead week" was over and students were hunkered down preparing for their finals. My exams were prepared, printed and on the shelf just waiting for Monday morning. Saturday morning was clear and frosty, and looked like a good one on which to take some train pictures. According to Amtrak's 800 number, No. 6 was just a few minutes late today, so I decided to run down to Osceola for the passenger train and whatever other traffic might appear.
I left Indianola around 7:30. From the radio I learned that there was a coal load (9476 East) out ahead of the Zephyr, and that it had gotten through Chariton about ten 'til eight. Dispatcher S.L.Y. said that he would have another out of Creston around 8:30 and that he'd be running No. 6 around them on Main 1 today.
At Osceola I stopped into the depot to visit with attendant Pat Greene, who said that she was tired today, since the westbound train had not gotten in until after midnight Friday night. She also said that they'd had No. 6 twelve hours late a few days ago, and that both trains were in the station at the same time. I let her know that she'd need to get her passengers over to the north side of the tracks this morning.
The Zephyr came around the corner west of the depot, kicking up a cloud of dust and frost from the right of way, at 9:08. In the train today:
AMTK 142, 169 and 161I stayed on the south side of the tracks to say "Hi" to engineer Rich Fertig. They made a quick stop and were off, reporting their times as ":13 and :15".
Transition Sleeper 39024
Coaches 34086, 34022 and 31509 (Smoking)
Sightseer Lounge 33003
Sleeping Cars 32031 and 32051
Four boxcars and nine roadrailers
While waiting on the passenger train I'd heard another train, BNSF 4880, report themselves out of Creston at 8:57, so I decided to wait on them at Osceola. BNSF 4880, with EMD 9004 and DEEX box gons, showed up at 9:40. I had the EOT channel cut out on my scanner, or I would have known from the sounds that this was a DP train. As it turned out, I was surprised when BNSF 5389 came past me on the rear end. The Osceola detector reported 510 axles on the coal load.
I decided to chase this one and see if I could catch them again up the line. The rear of the train was out of sight by the time I crossed the mainlines southeast of town on the Hwy. 34 overpass. Keeping it pretty close to 60 mph, I got just barely ahead of the train by the time we got to the Stephen's Forest entrance. There was a morning fog hanging in the valley today. I had just enough time to throw the Jeep into Park and line up a quick shot from the wooden bridge as they sped through. This time I waited on the rear end power and got a picture of 5389 as it passed beneath me.
I decided to see if I could catch them again in Chariton. It's usually no problem to beat a train up Whitebreast Hill. Coal loads often grind down to under 10 mph here. However, these guys seemed to be making very good time this morning. I went north off of 34 on the airport road and found that the head end of the train was already east of the viaduct. I hustled to Curtis Avenue and caught BNSF 4880, EMD 9004 and BNSF 5389 again at 10:14. They'd made it from Stephen's Forest (MP 344) to Curtis Ave. (MP 335) in 14 minutes, averaging just over 38 mph.
I decided to hang around Chariton for a while. The Union Pacific was doing some track work south of town and I'd heard the dispatcher tell the gang that he had a southbound coming pretty soon. I'd also heard 9554 West clearing up at Maxon at 10:22, so I knew I'd have another BNSF train pretty soon. I took a couple of pictures of the CB&Q freight house, which is now sporting a fresh red paint job.
I was counting on a warning from the Russell detector, but my westbounder almost got by me. I did manage to catch them at the east edge of town just after 11:00 as they came under the Hwy. 34 overpass. The train had BN 9554 and 9663 on the point and a set of empty ESCX tub gondolas.
Just after the BNSF empty went by I heard the Melcher detector for the UP southbounder, so I started looking for a place to get some shots of it. I settled on one of the old wooden overpasses that the Rock Island built early in the 20th century. There was a brisk northwest breeze this morning that carried the sound of the train to me well ahead of its arrival.
The UP manifest appeared at 11:30 with UP 3752, UP 8663 and UP 4071. The middle unit was ex-SP and the side of the cab had been "patched" in yellow paint with red numbers. Someone had also tried to paint over the SP lettering on the side of the hood and done a really tacky-looking job of it. Honestly, I've seen tidier vandalism!
I got fuel and a fresh coffee at Casey's and came back out to the car just in time to hear the horns of another BNSF train. I made it to the Linden Ave. crossing in time to see a coal load come around the "S" curves and through town. This train had BNSF 8899 and 9746 in charge of CEFX cars. I waited for the Russell detector. It reported 484 axles, but did not give its location (MP 328.0) as it normally does. The crew on 8899 toned up a rebroadcast on the radio and got the same result a second time.
I got lunch and hung around Chariton for a while, but didn't hear about any more traffic in the neighborhood. The UP dispatcher put the track gang out on the rails again and said he wouldn't have anything until late in the afternoon. About 12:30 I heard Ottumwa sub. dispatcher KRS say that he had a westbound at Ottumwa. I started back toward Osceola and monitored the radio, but didn't hear anything else interesting. I decided to go back home and use the time to write Christmas cards.