By Request

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 Drenten
In 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:

ATK 512, 281, and 820
Material Cars 1453, 1442
Baggage 1161
Sleeping Cars 39004, 32058, 32056
Dining Car 38059
Sightseer Lounge 33037
Coaches 31525, 34094, 34028
They boarded their passengers and were out of town quickly. They reported their times at Osceola to the dispatcher as, "9:12 and 9:16". On the radio, Amtrak was instructed , " not leave garbage at Ottumwa 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.

That's It!