My son Byron and I went train-watching along the BNSF on the last Saturday of my spring break. On the Railroad List, I'd seen a message saying that Amtrak 200 would be making its last revenue run today on number 36. A call to 1-800-USA-RAIL revealed that the train was only 45 minutes down out of Lincoln, NE, so we headed for Osceola.
The passenger train made its first spot at the Osceola depot at 9:44. In the lead was ATK 375, followed by 200, with its nose pointed to the rear of the train. They pulled down for a second spot at 9:46. In the train today:
We went east, stopping in Chariton for a short break. We heard two warrants given to westbounds at Albia, so we drove on out east to Russell to wait on them. At 11:32, the first showed up behind BN 9505, BN 9473 and HATX 114. The HATX lettering had been freshly applied to a faded blue loco.
In the middle of this train, we spotted a tank car with smoke coming from the leading truck on our side of the train. There is a detector just west of Russell and the train passed it with a report of "no defects". However, they stopped their train within a few miles, and eventually set the car out at Lucas, where we saw it on the way home in the afternoon.
The second westbounder, a train of empty grain hoppers, arrived in Russell at 11:55 behind SF 3640 and LMX 8586.
We then drove on east to Halpin, the west end of a short section of CTC at Albia. We waited there for intermodal train 65 (now the CHDV), which appeared at 12:28 with warbonnet BNSF 131 on the point, followed by BN 7290. As we listened, dispatcher "K.R.S" made arrangements for this train to cross over to the eastbound main at Chariton, so that it could get around the smoking tank car problem.
Byron and I knew that several eastbound trains were getting near Albia. We stopped at Hardee's and took our lunches to Maxon, the east end of the CTC. After a short wait, the first of several coal loads made it up the hill. This train came by us at 1:06 and had BN 7159, OWY 9019 and BN 9289 in charge of aluminum PRBX hoppers.
At 1:15, the UP "Syrup Turn", with CNW 4707 and UP 2220, arrived from Eddyville to trade corn syrup tank cars with the BNSF "Ottumwa Local". The local wasn't due for a couple of hours, however, so they cut away from their six cars and waited on the interchange track.
While we watched for the next coal load to come up the hill, a westbound empty surprised us at 1:26. This train was mostly LRDX gondolas. On the point were BN 5002, KCS 727 and BN 7251. Before this train had cleared the Maxon area, an eastbound coal load arrived at 1:28. On the head end were BN 9410 and BNSF 9740. The cars were DEEX gondolas.
After a short break in the traffic, another coal load arrived at 1:40. This train had Oakway 9036, "Kodachrome" SF 8139 and SF 8138 pulling CEPX gons. We immediately heard "Okay on the north/south side" messages exchanged and a westbound train with a long block of loaded autoracks arrived. This train was pulled by BN 5080 and cabless 4101.
We started west toward home, but changed our minds when we learned from the scanner that both the Ottumwa and Des Moines trains had arrived at Maxon. Back there at 2:24, we caught the Des Moines train, (formerly 447), with SF 3031 and BN 1522 just rolling up to the junction. BN 1522 has an Operation Lifesaver paint scheme, with the phrase "THINK... BEFORE CROSSING" and unusual striping on the long hood.
We and the Ottumwa local waited while 447 did its work in Albia. By 3:00, both trains were on their ways, and the Ottumwa local, with SF 2325 in charge of 6 syrup tankers, came by us at Maxon on its way home.
We made a quick stop on the way out of town to check out a work train parked in Albia. This train consisted of SF 2709, two old coal gondolas with MISS reporting marks, and BN caboose 12612. One of the gons was occupied by an intricate machine capable of "walking" along the hopper sides while picking up ties.
Epilogue - March 22, 1997
Date: Sat, 22 Mar 1997 20:11:46 -0500 Reply-To: The Railroad List
, MR DAVID C WARNER Sender: The Railroad List From: MR DAVID C WARNER Subject: Fairwell 200 (Epilogue) To: Multiple recipients of list RAILROAD Amtrak's F40 No. 200 is at Beech Grove, "Dead and Drained." dcwarner bryn mawr, pa 3/22/97 PTJ's Last Amtrak Eastern Region News Correspondent