An Afternoon Trip to Boone


Jan and I decided to take a Friday afternoon and head in the general direction of Boone. Our first stop was at Short Line Junction in Des Moines, where we found the power for the DMPRA waiting on the southeast leg of the wye. Power on trains headed onto the east/west mains at KC Junction must have an ATC-equipped loco on the point, so power is often turned at Short Line or at KC Junction. After several attempts to call the Spine dispatcher with their radio's touch pad, the crew asked the yardmaster to call for them. Soon, CNW 6833 and 7024 were given the signal and headed south across Market Street.

At the diamond where Short Line Tower used to stand, a similar delay ensued, and another call to the yardmaster was required to get things moving again. Eventually, the power was turned and backed into the yard. This is the sort of activity that went much faster when there was a tower and a human operator who could watch what was going on!

At the east end of the yard, we found the Chicago and Great Western lives on, at least in reporting marks, as seen here on CGW 34.

We parked on the north side of the yard and went up onto the old (1931) pedestrian bridge that spans the yard. Short Line Yard was pretty full, with only the Iowa Interstate main and a couple of yard tracks open. In this view of the car shop and yard office, CNW 4606 is heading down the ladder to work a cut of grain hoppers in the yard. The DMPRA power had backed onto track 1, and the train was was being inspected as the air pumped up. An ugly little machine was moving things around in the car shop.

At 12:48, IAIS 325 West appeared, rolled by the north side of Short Line Yard behind IAIS engines 325, 626 and DSC 1833 and headed for downtown Des Moines. We went back to the junction to watch the IAIS train go by, and saw a cut of interesting 3-truck articulated cars, carrying small "dump-truck" style containers. These cars carried MERX reporting marks.

After the IAIS train cleared the yard, the DMPRA headed north, reporting to the dispatcher that they were out at 12:55. We stopped for some fast food and headed up I-35 to a park by the track in Cambridge. Just as we finished our lunches, the DMPRA appeared. We drove east and north to Chicago Junction, and caught the DMPRA again as it rounded the west leg of the wye. North of downtown Nevada, and now on the eastbound main, 7024 and 6833 headed for Proviso Yard at 2:24 in the afternoon. The 30 mile trip from Short Line, with no meets, had taken an hour and a half.

We turned west and went down highway 30, passing KC Junction, Ames yard and the city of Ames. We returned to the tracks at Jordan and followed them into Boone. There, we headed directly to the depot and yard area of the Boone and Scenic Valley Railroad. On weekdays, the B&SV makes a single, diesel-powered run, and that train was out on the road. Weekends, three steam-powered runs are made, and trolley rides are available. We went to the yard and shops area to get images of B&SV equipment. In addition to the Chinese steam loco used for weekend passenger trains, the road also owns Crab Orchard and Egyptian 17. CO&E 17's tender says "These 4000 Horses Love Coal".

The B&SV yard and depot areas are home to lots of interesting equipment, including electric motors 702 and 703, and a portable electric substation. Around 3:30, the weekday tourist turn returned from the west and discharged its passengers. Each end of the consist carries a caboose, with Rock Island 17051 on the west end, and CNW 11136 on the east.

The diesel power for the weekday runs is B&SV 1003, in fresh paint, with square stacks and flat pilots. Since more passengers are expected on weekends, and this was Friday, before the crew tied up today, they added a car to the train. The B&SV has only a few full-time employees, concerned mostly with management and maintenance. Most of the work and day-to-day operation is done by a large group of volunteers, including brakeman Dave W., seen here helping set up the train for the weekend. Dave told me that he had recently qualified to operate CCW #50, the B&SV's restored trolley car, featured in an earlier VTWI excursion.

The C&NW mains are less than a block away, so we were able to keep tabs on traffic as we visited the B&SV. Traffic was light, with an occasional eastbound stack train and some light power going west. Just before we left, we caught CNW 8041 and Electro Motive SD-70M 7007 going west with a mixed train. They were followed by UP 8616 and 7246, pulling one of several empty coal trains waiting in the Boone yard.

Back at KC Junction at about 5:30, CNW 7034 and UP 3494, with 105 empty grain hoppers, came around the east leg of the wye and pulled down to Chicago Junction west to await a relief crew. As an afternoon shower passed through the area, the Cimarron van arrived, the crews were exchanged, and 7034 was on its way around the wye to head north on the Spine Line.

We went south from Chicago Junction and jogged west over to the small town of Shipley. There, at 6:20, we met the northbound DMIT behind UP 3454 and 3280. That was our last train of the day, and we headed south to home. By the way, it's Balloon Week in Indianola, and the town is (literally) full of hot air!

That's it!