KCS Christmas Train

Wednesday Dec 18 and Sunday Dec 22

Wednesday, December 18

I decided to take one day of my Christmas break from Simpson to do some train watching and headed for Marshalltown on Wednesday morning.  We'd had a little rain in southern Iowa on Tuesday and a very warm night.  At 7:30 I was on my way to Des Moines, it was sunny and 50 degrees.

I stopped first about 7:50 at Short Line Junction where the Iowa Interstate's CBBI was just leaving East 18th St.  This was a rare catch, since these trains come through Des Moines in the night these days.  The IAIS train passed through some fog on its way to the diamond crossing with the Union Pacific.  Six units pulled the IAIS freight this morning, IAIS 625, LLPX 2031, IAIS 400, LLPX 2017, IAIS 626 and IAIS 405.

After the IAIS eastbounder was over the diamond, I went north to Hull Ave. Yard where a grain train was just stopping short of Easton Ave. for a crew change.  The grainer had UP 7146, SP 110, UP 3175 and UP 4865 on the point.

After intercepting these two, I went north on I-35 for the UP's "mixmaster" west of Nevada.  I checked out the west end of Ames Yard, since I'd heard an Eagle Grove train headed out from Ames, but no one was around yet.  I drove on east toward Nevada and spotted a "bare table" train going around the east leg of KC Junction and heading toward town.  I went to a grade crossing in Nevada and waited for the train to appear.  They came through at 8:47 with UP 9056 and 2913 on the point.

From the radio I learned that the M-SSDM was in the Nevada siding, so I went out to the east end of town for a look at this one.  As I was trying a couple of shots across a field and into the sun, they started moving toward Des Moines, so I hurried south to catch the power, UP 2952, 2994 and 9575, as the short train left the siding at 9:00.

More radio conversations led me to conclude that an eastbound was coming through KC Junction and into Nevada.  I went east and a short distance north on S-27 to wait on this one.  The train appeared at 9:20, a unit train of automobile racks powered by UP 4736 and 4697.

At this point I started on toward Marshalltown on old Hwy. 30 and put in a call to my friend Rich Fertig to see if he could meet me for lunch.  Rich and I agreed to meet in M'town at noon.  I took to the gravel to follow the rails east of State Center.  Just outside of town, I was passed by a train with a mixed consist of containers and autoracks, with UP 9471 in the lead.  They were moving pretty fast and although I could keep the rear of the train in sight, I couldn't overtake them.

Between Lamoille and Marshalltown I saw them meet a westbound, so I reversed direction and went to Lamoille to intercept it right at 10:00.  This train turned out to be a WPSX coal empty pulled by UP 6857 and SP 276.  The train that had gotten around me at State Center slowed considerably coming into Marshalltown and I was able to get shots of it coming under the viaducts in town with UP 9471, 4508, 4220 and 4875.

I drove out to the east end of the yard, missing a CWEX empty that came though at 10:15 on the far track.  I did make it to the last viaduct to catch the head end of the eastbound again and to watch the Oskaloosa train, led by UP 375, leaving town.

Back in the yard, the M-DMDM (a.k.a. "Dum Dum") was putting its train together behind UP 2967 and 2993.  It was 10:30 and the day had already warmed to 57 degrees - pretty comfortable for mid-December in Iowa.  I stayed at the west end for a westbound manifest with UP 9531, UP 3578 and SP 335 on the point.  They were running right-handed and were passed by a stacker behind UP 4037, 4255 and 4293.

Switching duties at the east end of the yard were being handled by UP 395 and ex-CNW UP 406.  I also spotted "patch" locos UP 403 and 404 at the diesel service facilities south of the yard.

Rich arrived for lunch at 12:15, just as a WEPX coal load was coming through town pulled by UP 6523 and SP 233.  The minute they cleared the old depot area, we had a westbound with empty KGLX hoppers behind UP 6545, 8141 and 6622.

We got lunch (Taylor's Maid Rites, of course), just missing a CWEX  load at 12:30, but then were out of trains for the next two hours and finally decided to give it up.  I did see a couple of eastbounds on my way back toward Nevada - a D.P. CWEX load near Lamoille and another bare table west of State Center.

Sunday, December 22

On the weekend before Christmas, my friend Susan Murphy and I traveled to Kansas City to visit her daughter and son-in-law.  On Sunday evening we went to Union Station to witness the arrival of the Kansas City Southern's Christmas Train.  A very large crowd was on hand and quite a show was being made of the affair at the station, complete with a large projection screen, live band and vocalists.

The train, covered with lights, was waiting west of the west Amtrak parking area when we arrived around 5:00.  At the appointed hour the train moved forward to pass in review in front of the throng along the fence.  I noticed that the lead "unit" was wearing an EOT in its coupler.  The "engine" and engineer came first, followed by a box and flat car with deer, elves, Santa, and all of the usual Christmas imagery.  At the rear were cabooses and the actual power for the train, KCS 4015.

That's It!