UP 844 Returns to Iowa
September 3, 1996


On Tuesday, UP 844 traveled from Clinton to Des Moines, scheduled to arrive at 3:00 p.m. I took off right after an early lunch and went norht on I-35, turning onto highway 210 at Cambridge. I'd heard a warrant given to a northbound DMPR - they were to clear the main at Cambridge, but dispatcher Myra had instructed them to call before entering the siding. I got to Cambridge just ahead of them and heard them get a warrant to go on to Chicago Junction without taking the siding. I caught them at the north edge of Cambridge. CNW 8653 and UP 9705 pulled by slowly at 1:20.

I drove on ahead of them and parked by the tracks in Nevada. Several other railfans were in the neighborhood awaiting 844. A freight was stopped just east of town, and appeared to have the UP E units behind the lead unit. By 2:00, CNW 8653 had made it through the junction and was coming eastbound through Nevada. A cooperative UP employee called on his radio to get 844's location and informed us that it was at Clear Creek, just east of Nevada. Passing the stopped freight, 844 came by running "wrong-handed" (for the CNW) at 2:36 p.m., and headed for Kansas City Junction.

I packed up and set out to pace the train back to Des Moines. 844 started to get a warrant all the way to Des Moines, but Myra changed her mind at the last minute and sent them only as far south as Cambridge. While we waited for a UP highrailer to get on the tracks, I noticed that several railfans were set up to record the train passing through the junction. When I first arrived at the highway 210 overpass south of Cambridge, I had the place all to myself, but I was soon joined by others, including a man who balanced himself precariously on the edge of the bridge to take his pictures. I just want you readers to know that I'm not risking life nor limb to record these excursions, and that I was standing on solid ground, off the pavement behind the guard rail!

The "Cruise Train" was a beautiful sight as it drifted slowly down the main with its yellow cars to wait for a northbound to take the siding. We abandoned the bridge (the above acrobat almost abandoned his scanner, too) and headed on south. I knew it would be some time before 844 would be able to move, since the northbound was just out of Des Moines, so I drove all the way down to Enterprise, where there was a nice picture-taking spot free of brush and trees. I met a railfan from Ohio there, and we had a nice visit while waiting for the train to come by.

The northbound, behind CNW 6820 and IC 6111, got to Enterprise at 3:30. We talked and kept one ear on the scanner, listening to 6820 and 844 pass the detector just north of Elkhart. Finally, at 4:10, 844 passed the elevators and rolled south past the old Rock Island radio repeater tower on the last leg into Des Moines.

I got back on I-35 and went south to the Guthrie Ave. exit in Des Moines, where there is a bridge over the UP Hull Ave. yard. UP 844 was to tie up, with its 19-car train, on track 3. I crossed over the viaduct, parked on the west side, and walked back (on a pedestrian walkway!) to the middle for some pictures. The train appeared about 4:30 and came slowly down the three-track ladder and under the bridge. While the long passenger train was snaking through the switches, I drove to the south end of the yard.

Shortly, the UP "Steam Team" trucks appeared and preparations began for the train to lay over until the weekend's excursion to Boone's Pufferbilly Days. Workers dug ballast away and threaded hose from a fire hydrant under the rails and back north into the yard where 844 tied up.

That's It!