A Day at Creston


Byron and I had agreed to meet at Creston on Saturday, early enough to catch Amtrak's scheduled arrival at 8:34. It was a cool and cloudy morning, but during the day it cleared and warmed from 40 degrees to near 60. I left Indianola right at 7:00, and immediately heard a warrant given to a westbound at Albia. The radio was completely quiet all the to Osceola, but just west of town, the Osceola detector came on for the north track. Since there was no way that a train could make it from Albia to Osceola in the half hour it took me to get there, I knew that I now had two westbounds over my shoulder.

I got to the Creston depot at 8:10 to find a coal empty, mixed AEPX and BN cars, changing crews at the depot. They had four units, BN 5010, BN 5040, Oakway 9017 and Oakway 9032. They were ready to roll at 8:16, just as an eastbound coal load arrived. This train of BN hoppers, behind BN 9233 and OWY 9084, pulled into the yard to await Amtrak's passing. Shortly, the 5010 was on the move westward.

The train that I'd heard on the detector at Osceola arrived next, at 8:41. It was another empty of BN coal gondolas, pulled by BN 7245, Kodachrome SF 8139 and BN 5043. Amtrak, making unusually good time, arrived at 8:57 behind ATK 332 and 514. In the train today, 2 material cars, 1 baggage, transition sleeper, sleeper, diner, lounge cafe, coach, coach/baggage, coach and second diner. They made a very short stop, boarding no one and letting off four passengers. It wasn't even enough time for the smokers to get a drag before having to jump back on the train. Amtrak was on its way toward Chicago at 8:59.

Several eastbounds had been waiting on Amtrak west of Creston, and now started rolling toward us. At 9:22, BN 5575, 7267 and 5065 brought a coal train of CEPX gons in for a crew change at the east end of the yard. On the radio at about 10:00, we heard another westbound call in to say that they were out of fuel on their lead unit. Since the 7245 wasn't ready to go yet, the yardmaster sent a fuel truck out to meet them at a gravel road crossing east of the yard. We headed out there to find Electro-Motive demonstrator 8302 and a Southwest Petroleum truck. We parked the Probe south of the tracks and walked over to watch and photograph the service call. Soon after we arrived, the hose was disconnected, and 8302 and it's two MAC companions were ready to roll.

We heard another eastbound arrive as we were coming back into town, and caught it at the east end of the yard. BN 9577 and 9581 changed crews and were on the way with their loaded AEPX hoppers at 10:26. Another load, JE aluminum hoppers, followed them, arriving at the depot at 10:34. This train was pulled by MACs BNSF 9744 and BN 9659. 9744 carries a BN logo on the nose, but BNSF on the side in place of the number. The crew was now available for empty 7245, and they started west, past the old CB&Q depot at 10:43. In just a few minutes, freshly refueled 8302with its UCEX cars pulled in, and Southwest Petroleum showed up at the depot to collect.

Things quieted down for a while, so we browsed around the area and got our lunch. The yard was being switched by two locos today, BN 2817 and 2737 were both used by the yard crew. We trailed them around as they put together a westbound local and switched the co-op elevator at the east end. A spreader, BN 972617, sat at the south side of the yard beside a ribbon-rail train. The yard also had a long string of rusting BNFE reefers that's been there for some months. Just west across Elm street from the old depot sits bright red caboose CB&Q 13513. In the background you can see the Berning Motor Inn, which has a great view of the BNSF mains. By the way, the frame of the caboose is stenciled with a different number, BN 11458. At around noon, Track Inspector Taylor (the fastest warrant repeater in the midwest) arrived in his high-railer at the depot. A fresh crew aboard, 8302 moved away from the AmShack and rolled west past the old depot at 12:32

Things picked up again with the almost simultaneous arrivals of westbound intermodal train 65 and eastbound manifest 166 at 2:45 in the afternoon. 166's train was pulled by LMX 8531, EMD Leasing 6307 and BN 2120. 65 made a quick stop and pulled away from the depot behind BN 7238, cabless 4040, and warbonneted Santa Fe 224. They were across Elm street at 2:52. Right behind 65, arriving at 3:02, was another coal empty.

At the same time, the yardmaster was on the radio trying to work out a way of handling an eastbound SP detour that was soon going to die on hours. The yardmaster told the SP train to pull in behind 166, and they came into town aboard SP 286 and 212 at 3:15. Now, however, he had the town's grade crossings pretty well blocked, and 166's outbound crew was calling the dispatcher in an attempt to clear up a problem with their locomotive inspection card. The yardmaster put the yard crew aboard the detour train and cut the Elm street crossing at 3:40. By 3:50, 166's crew had come to an agreement with the dispatcher and were moving on eastward, allowing the outbound detour crew to put their train back together and pull out of town.

A crew was on duty at 4:00 for the coal empty, and it was on the move at 4:18. On the point of a unit train of IOPX hoppers were Oakway 9092, KCS 753, and BN 5543. We waited for one more train to arrive before heading for home. At 4:48, 161's train arrived, pulled by BN 7902 and 6356.

That's It!