An e-mail message from Eliot Keller had alerted me to the meeting of the Iowa Association of Railroad Passengers in Osceola, so Byron and I made plans to spend the day train-watching and attending their meeting. We left Indianola around 8:15, driving in a light mist. At Osceola, we found that J.R. had posted an arrival of 9:45 for number 6 today, so we had a few minutes to look around and watch for other traffic. A handful of passengers were waiting in the old depot waiting room this morning.
Amtrak appeared at 9:49, with ATK 837 on the point and one of the new units, 7, trailing. In the train today:
From warrants we'd heard read, we knew that we'd have at least an hour before another train appeared, so we got a snack at the nearby Casey's and discussed plans for Byron's HO model railroad. Amtrak station attendant J.R. Greene cleaned depot windows in preparation for putting up the storm windows. At 11:15, a westbound coal empty of BN gons showed up, with just one unit, SD-70MAC BN 9460. We waited for one more train before heading to the IARP meeting. At 11:23, an eastbound manifest with BN 7157, 6349 and SF 8102 came by the depot.
The meeting of the IARP was preceded by an informal lunch at the Quilt Patch Family restaurant on the Osceola square. Approximately 20 persons were in attendance, including Mayor Diehl and his wife, seen here in conversation with President Dick Welch. At 1:00, the IARP held a business meeting, including reports from several officers and members. Eliot Keller of Iowa City reported on various excursions, including the association's work during the visits of the UP cruise train to Iowa.
Following the business meeting, Mayor Diehl discussed plans for the Osceola Amtrak depot. Funds have already been allocated to improve the station platform and to provide shelter on the north side of the mainlines for passengers boarding the westbound trains. Diehl said that he expected these projects to be underway in the next few months. Diehl and others have also been working on obtaining the depot for the city of Osceola in exchange for a building to be constructed nearby for the BNSF. Currently, the depot houses office and storage space for BNSF track and signal workers. Funds, from the state of Iowa, are on hand for the construction of the BNSF building, and negotiations with the railroad company are currently underway.
After the meeting, we were invited by Pat Greene, J.R.'s wife, to tour the Osceola depot. She told us that the depot was built in 1909. The original waiting room has been shortened somewhat and the benches pulled together to make room for an office for the BNSF signal maintainers. One of two original offices off of the waiting room has windows for "Tickets" and "Conductors". The back of the men's room door has carved into it some vintage (1925?) grafitti, reading:
Not long after the group started arriving at the depot, at 2:50, intermodal train 65 showed up. I stepped outside and got a picture of BN 8137, 7811 and 5065 on the head end. The weather was deteriorating as the day went on, so I didn't stay outside for long. About 3:15, Byron and I excused ourselves (having seen the depot many times before) and drove east to Chariton. We got to the old Rock Island depot there just in time to hop out of the Jeep and get a quick picture of a southbound UP freight. This train arrived at 4:03 p.m., and was pulled by CNW 6864 and UP 3804. From the signals at Chariton and the automated voice of the Melcher detector, we figured that there was another southbound train not too far up the line. We went on up to the Hwy. 14 overpass just north of Williamson, where the UP is working to extend the siding, and caught a stack train with CNW 6907 and CR 6014 on the head end at 4:23.