The cold weather and Christmas visits from relatives had combined to keep us indoors for several days when an email invitation to do some train watching arrived:
I notice you often make it to the BN(SF) tracks in time to see Amtrak #6. My family of 6 plans to be on board December 26. Come on down and take our picture as we make our way east!!! Robert DrentenIn spite of the poor weather, I decided to take Robert (a.k.a. Netnerd) up on his invitation. The CZ has been running late or in two sections often during the holiday season. I called 1-800-USA-RAIL early Thursday morning and was told that "number 36" was on time, so I hurried south to Osceola. There was a light, blowing snow and the Jeep thermometer showed 2 degrees as I left town at 8:00.
Just after leaving town, I heard dispatcher "KRS" give a warrant to EMD 6300 West at Halpin, so I figured that I'd see at least one train after Amtrak. He also said that the first eastbound after the CZ was called (at Creston) for 10:15.
At Osceola, about 20 people were on hand to meet the train. Although I'd heard some radio conversation about a delay due to the second unit, the gates went down and they crossed the highway (17 second .AU file) at 9:11. They passed the depot and made their stop, spotting the tenth car in front of the depot, at 9:12. In the train today:
With a brisk breeze from the north, it was one of those "exposed flesh freezes in minutes" days in Iowa, so I sought shelter at nearby Casey's and got a fresh mug of coffee before returning to the depot. The thermometer had risen to 4 degrees. I parked north of the depot to wait for the westbound I'd heard about earlier, which appeared at 9:40. It turned out to be a coal empty, of BN gondolas, with heavily smoking BN 7873 on the point and EMD 6300 trailing.
With the coal empty out of the way, D.D. "Dude" Rogers and a crane operator obtained a warrant to use the westbound for a while. They set Dude's truck on the rails and brought out a crane and gondola from the old branch line track. They rolled the crane east and through the crossover onto the eastbound, heading out of town at 10:00. It was great to get trackside, but I could see that the bitter weather was going to keep me sitting in the truck idling away a tank of gas, so I decided to return to Indianola.