BNSF at Creston

Tuesday, December 19

My grades were in and I was determined to spend some of what's called Christmas "Vacation" getting some train pictures.  It seems that every year more and more stuff piles up waiting to be done just before the holiday, and this year's pre- and post-Christmas schedule has been pretty tightly packed.  Susan says that this year (it's 2007 as I type) we're going to get the shopping done in October.  She wasn't out for her break yet on this Tuesday and, not coincidentally, this is the first day she's back at work, so I have some peace and quiet here at the ranch to write my account of the excursion.  Another set of pictures is waiting after this one's done.

It was clear and 20 degrees as I drove over through Indianola and down to Osceola.  Along the way I heard two westbounds getting warrants from Halpin to Crossover Osceola, and thought that there might be some sort of bottleneck since since the trains weren't being sent all the way to Creston.  I heard an eastbound report out of Creston at 7:20 and saw the taillight of another, ahead of it, just leaving town as I arrived in Osceola at 7:38.  It appeared to be a manifest instead of one of the usual parade of coal loads, and reported 364 axles on the detector east of town.

While I waited, the dispatcher started calling his westbounds, with a Box 1 canceling the stop at Crossover Osceola and a Box 2 extending them to Creston.  He sounded a bit frustrated with to have to issue " another damn warrant...", since plans at Ft Worth had apparently changed.  The two trains were between Russell and Chariton.  From the warrants, it sounded like there were three westbounds coming, 5758 at MP 328 (Russell), 8033 at 324 and 5832 at 316.

I took a quick break at Casey's and got back to the car just as an eastbound was going through with one unit, BNSF 5934, and a short (166 axles) train made up of tank cars and covered hoppers.  From the radio, an Eastbound ahead of it was stopping "at 49" to see if another would make Whitebreast okay and BNSF 5672 West was getting a warrant at Halpin at 8:20.

At 8:30 a load arrived with a mixed set of empty tub gondolas.  This train had BNSF 9948 and 9490 leading and BNSF 9968 in the rear.  The first of the several westbounds was just around the corner, a manifest led by 5758, 5908 and 9397.  At 8:45 another came through, with 8803, 9871, and 124 empty PSTX tubs.  I miscalculated and thought I could get in another pit stop before 5832 got there, but they came through, registering 558 axles (I left the tape recorder running while out of the Jeep).  Due to delays at Creston, I caught them later.

I called Julie to see how the Zephyr was doing and was surprised to find them only two and a half hours down.  They've often been profoundly late recently, what with all the great weather in Colorado and other miscellaneous problems.  I figured I could make Creston just about the time they rolled up, so I started west out of town.  The detector informed me of another westbound, registering 440 axles, so I stopped west of Osceola and caught them on the way by at 9:07 with BNSF 9752 and 9894 trailing DEEX tubs.

Nearing Creston, from the radio conversation, it was obvious that the westbounds were queued waiting to get through town.  There was also talk in the yard of Amtrak's arrival, so I went directly to the Elm St. west of the old depot and caught them coming in at 9:45.  In the CZ today:

AMTK 166 and 153
Baggage 1751
Transition Sleeper 39026
Sleepers 32070 and 32067
Diner 38037
Sightseer Lounge 33021
Coaches 34062, 31027 and 31020
A short consist, just 44 axles.  The passenger train made two spots and pulled out without delay, reporting, "49 and 57" to the dispatcher.  The Creston yard job, with adequate power, was at work as Amtrak arrived, knocking cars around in the west end of the yard.

At this point, pretty close to 10:00, westbound trains that I'd seen (or just missed) earlier were beginning to get fresh crews and head on west.  First up was the manifest led by 5758, 5908 and a monster SD70ACe, 9397.  What would Raymond Loewy think of form following function, perhaps a bit too closely?  Between trains, the yard job scurried east to work the elevator and I got a chance to get pictures from the sunny side of their units, 2507, 2760, 2118 and 2579.

At 10:18 the first coal load behind Amtrak came in with BNSF 9817, BN 9668, company cars and BNSF 9357 in the rear.  While they were pulling down for a crew change, I decided to have a quick look around the yard.  Parked at the west end were three more older BN and Santa Fe units, 1658, 7335 and 2309.  At the east end I found BNSF 6030 with 9434 on a waiting load.

By 10:45, my second Osceola westbound, powered by 8803 and 8971, was heading out onto the "Omaha Split" dispatcher's territory with a fresh crew.  The next one, which I'd missed while in Casey's restroom, was told to pull down, but not block the crossover so that the yard job could get back out.

There was a lull of about 45 minutes before the empty left town.  This train had PNJX cars led by BNSF 5832, CEFX 1008 and BNSF 9838.  I got some takeout and was back in time for the next empty, seen west of Osceola earlier, to pull in behind BNSF 9752 and 9894.  The second unit's paint had faded to a not very attractive shade of pink.

I started back east and was past Afton when I heard the Talmage detector report 204 axles on Main One.  I turned around and went to the overpass in Afton to catch a ballast work train with BNSF 2312, 4254 and 1510.  The conveyor equipment on the end of the ballast cars was labeled, "Dump Train".

That's It!