Osceola, Iowa
October 23, 1996


Over my Grapenuts, I heard dispatcher "KRS" talking to a coal train at Osceola. Their lead unit, BN 9522, was low on water and had shut down, and they were going to cut off from their train and run in to the depot to refill it. The dispatcher had another coal load right behind them, and was also trying to get a tie gang out onto the westbound main to start their work. He called the tie gang foreman and told him to wait while he decided if Amtrak would have to be reversed out of Creston around the coal trains. It sounded like things might get interesting, so I grabbed my camera, laptop and scanner, and headed south.

It was a nasty, cold (39°) and wet morning, with drizzle and a strong northwest breeze. When I got to Osceola about 8:00, I found a long line of cars waiting to get across the tracks. The two units, BN 9522 and 9521, from the coal train were stopped in front of the depot, keeping the gates down, and they were having trouble restarting the 9522. Before long, the conductor yelled "Pull this @$%^&'er down!", and the engines moved east far enough to let the gates go up. In a few minutes, they had the 9522 running again and backed up to their train. The dispatcher finally decided that he could get his coal trains to the CTC at Halpin (Albia, Iowa) in time to get them out of the way of the California Zephyr, and at 8:33, the two SD-70MACs, running "elephant style" brought their OVEX gondolas by the Osceola depot.

Now that Amtrak was going to stay on the eastbound main, the tie gang could go to work, and they starting bringing their collection of odd-looking machinery out from the old branch line onto the westbound main. Workers, who had been hanging around the depot waiting, were loaded onto the BN bus and, along with the essential trailer, headed west out of town. The second coal load, of CEPX flat-bottom gondolas, blasted through town at 8:44, with MACs 9453 and 9625 on the point.

Amtrak #6 showed up at 10:00, 45 minutes down, and made a short stop with three spots in front of the depot to unload and take on passengers. In the train today:

ATK 508 and 402
Material Cars 1505, 1445, and1537
Express Baggage 1735
Transition Sleeper 39010
Sleeping Car 32086, "Louisiana"
Sleeping Car 32112, "Utah"
Sleeping Car 32011
Dining Car 38035
Sightseer Lounge 33041
Coach 34073
Coach 34018
Coach Baggage 31017
Sleeping Car 32105, "Oregon"
Sleeping Car 32047
Dining Car 38060
Coach 34028
Coach Baggage 31034
They were away at 10:06. Things quieted down for a while, and I turned to doing homework on the computer. By 11:30, in the face of traffic, the tie gang decided to go to lunch. At 11:38 another coal load showed up in Osceola. This train had BN 7276, SF 8130 and SF 8126 on the point and consisted mostly of DEEX gondolas, with a few DETX.

Westbound trains were passing through the detector as they crossed over to the eastbound main, going so slowly that the detector (.au file) would report an "integrity failure, train too slow" on each of them. Train 161, headed up with BN 7824, 8111 and 5065, and with 98 cars of mixed freight, got to the depot at 12:15.

Another hour passed before 161 had cleared the eastbound at Murray and the next coal load reached Osceola. It arrived at 1:15 behind MACs 9636 and 9419 (smoking heavily), with JE hoppers in tow. 9636 passed the crossover east of Osceola (MP 357.9) and made way for intermodal train 65 to move over onto the eastbound. They were at the Osceola depot at 1:42, with BN 8085, 7114, and 5598 in charge of a few autoracks and a long string of containers. That's my new red "GP" just to the right of 8085.

The weather improved greatly in the afternoon, and by the time the next train showed up, it was getting nice and warm. Behind 65, a coal empty of CETX ribbed gondolas came through at 2:23 with BN 9634 and 9505 on the head end. At this time, the next eastbound, 5027 East, was already waiting at Murray, and the next westbound, 2122 West, was on the way over from the CTC at Halpin. I decided to wait for one more train before heading home. At 3:40, BN 5027, SF 8100 and BN 5536 came through with another coal train of FSTX gons and a few hoppers.

That's It!