UP 844 Comes to Iowa
Saturday, August 24, 1996

Jan and I headed north to catch UP 844's passage across Iowa, arriving in Ames about 10:30 in the morning. There were already some foamers at the grade crossings and waiting around the Ames depot, even though the scheduled arrival wasn't until 1:10 in the afternoon. Between Nevada and Ames, we stopped to watch an eastbound coal train behind UP 7015 and 9192, and talked to a young man from Minnesota who did not know the cruise train's schedule, and had been waiting there since midnight!

In Ames, it was business as usual on the UP, with freight such as this westbound behind CNW 6885 and UP 3657 rolling through every few minutes. The crowd around the depot continued to grow through the morning, eventually reaching proportions that represented a problem for freight traffic. There was no crowd control whatsoever in the area, and children and adults placed coins on the rails and rushed the double-track right of way after the passage of each train. Naturally, the local media were on hand, too. By early afternoon, things were pretty well out of hand, as you can see in these pictures of trains by the depot:

Around 2:15 p.m., a highrailer came through on the westbound, trying to get folks to move back from the tracks. 844 finally made its appearance and pulled slowly by the Ames depot around 2:40. The stop to detrain and board passengers took about 25 minutes. The train's consist included head end power, coaches and dome cars, as well as CNW inspection/observation car Fox Valley.

Many of us with cameras hurried a block and a half east to get some close-ups of 844. Here's a set of pictures and sounds:

While the crowd thinned out, we downloaded our pictures and took a little break. Then we started south down I-35, but learned from the scanner of some traffic on the UP "Spine" line, so we went over to Cambridge to catch a meet. We got to the highway 210 overpass just before 4:00, in time to see a northbound manifest freight approaching the siding. They pulled in and waited for their men to close the switch and climb on the rear car. Since the train was short, CNW 6922 and UP 2511 pulled north, past my position under the overpass. They moved north far enough that the crewmen could drop off and wait while the train backed up to pick them up. As they passed me, I was told to "stay off the tracks, we'll be backing up". After picking up the crew, the train rolled on north to the end of the siding. Before long, the first of two southbounds showed up. This was another mixed bag of freight, behind CNW 6873 and UP 3422. They hurried south under the overpass and things quieted down.

I was about to climb back up to the highway when Jan informed me that another southbound was already out of the junction at Nevada. This turned out to be a train we'd seen earlier in Ames, with UP 2911 on the point, followed by two EMD units. We paced this train south clear to Enterprise before getting back on the interstate and heading for Indianola.

That's It!