Six Hours at Creston


Byron and I decided to meet at Creston at 8:30 and spend a few hours checking out traffic on the BN. Just before we arrived, eastbound 492 had pulled in and was tieing up at the east end of the yard. 492 is called out of Creston at 4:30 in the afternoon. A couple of tracks in the yard were occupied with strings of mechanical reefers, all BN Western Fruit Express cars. We estimated that there were about 50 such cars altogether.

At 9:19, a westbound coal empty appeared. Impatient passengers watched from the shade of the AmShack while the crews changed. The empty was pulled by BN 5070 and 5127, and consisted of brand new (June '95 built) DEEX aluminum gondolas.

As the 5070 was making its short stop at Creston, a yard crew of four men came out of the office and started the GP-38 yard switcher, BN 2119, sitting on a stub track in front of the depot. This crew shuffled some of the reefers around at the west end of the yard and then headed down to work at the east end. In a few minutes they reported that "492 is ready", returned to the west end, set the handbrake on 2119 and went back into the office. They returned to the engine at 4:00 in the afternoon to move it back to the engine stub, inspect it, and shut it down.

Byron and I chose our 8:30 rendezvous in order to be ahead of Amtrak 6/36, which is scheduled to arrive in Creston at 8:45. After the long trip from the west, it is routinely a few hours late. Today, it appeared at 11:09, behind ATK 277, 274 and 359. The 800 series GEnesis units, common for a time on this route, have disappeared. Amtrak made a short stop, and after some discussion of a passenger that was supposed to get off at Creston, but who had not been seen on the train for the last day, departed at 11:14. The train consisted of 3 units, 3 baggage cars, a transition sleeper and 8 bilevel cars. Just east of Creston, at milepost 389, the "shiny train" reported to the dispatcher that it was in emergency. Air hoses had parted between the second and third baggage cars, knocking out the HEP connection at the same time. After a ten minute delay, things were reconnected and they were underway again.

Things were pretty quiet in Creston for the next hour. At 12:15, track equipment returned from working just west of town and tied up on the "piggyback track". Shortly, a westbound coal empty showed up, behind Oakway 9081 and 9050. After a four minute crew change stop, they passed the old depot and headed across Elm street at 12:28. This was a very long train (8000 feet), with 25 or so BN hoppers on the head end and PRBX cars making up the remainder, for a total of 149 cars.

The next train was a coal load of AEPX cars, which arrived from the west behind SD-70MACs 9462 and 9515 at 12:44. They changed crews at the east end and were under way again at 12:55.

After another quiet hour, westbound mixed train 161 stopped for a crew change at 2:05. 161's head end power was BN 3125, cabless 4117, and EMD 778.

After considering the one-train-per-hour pace of the BN traffic, we decided not to wait for another train, and headed for our separate homes. Murphy's Law of train-watching applied, of course, and east of Creston I saw the tops of some trailers in the woods and knew that we had just missed number 65, the westbound hotshot.

That's it!