June 10 and 13, 1996

Crossover Osceola - June 10

Having heard on the scanner that eastbound trains were to be reversed from Creston to Osceola today, I decided to head down to Osceola for a little train watching. I got out of Indianola under gradually clearing skies at about 8:30, and heard the last eastbound running on the EB main get through just before I reached Osceola. When I arrived around 9:00, the "steel gang" was getting its equipment out of the storage track and moving down to clear the road crossing before backing through the crossover to the eastbound main where they were to work today.

About a dozen assorted pieces of interesting machinery worked their way west, east and back west again in front of me. A hi-rail truck preceded the group down the eastbound to the work site, which was only a mile from the depot. The equipment included tanks of compressed gas used to heat the rail, and a magnetic spike handling machine The whole set was on the eastbound main and headed west by 9:20. They were followed by a BN crew bus that just made it out of the way as the gates came down. The work was close enough to the crossing that it caused the gates to pump, so the signal maintainer was called in to shunt the west side of the eastbound crossing.

After some discussion with the chief dispatcher, a decision was made to reverse Amtrak today. The CZ was running late, and was out of Creston at 10:45, two hours down. Just before Amtrak's arrival, I was joined at Osceola by railfans from Phoenix and Kansas City, who had ridden the Madison County Zephyr to Iowa and were now seeing various Iowa RR sites as they drove to KC. The train came slowly by the work site while a switch tender lined the crossover to take them back to the eastbound main. The power, ATK 392, 359 and 350 swung through the crossover and pulled down for the first spot at 11:17. After a second stop, they were on the way again at 11:28. The 20 car CZ today:

1505 Material Car
1403 Material Car
1525 Material Car
54061 Coach (Deadhead)
1261 Baggage
39006 Transition Sleeper
32052 Sleeping Car
32017 Sleeping Car
38017 Dining Car
33008 Sightseer Lounge
34087 Coach
31043 Coach Baggage
34075 Coach
31008 Coach Baggage
32031 Sleeping Car
32057 Sleeping Car
32094 Sleeping Car
38025 Dining Car
34000 Coach
31013 Coach Baggage
Amtrak was to be followed out of Creston by a coal load, but they were not making very good time, so I took advantage of the situation to go get some lunch. At 12:30, the detector east of Osceola announced the arrival of a westbound, which turned out to be train 161. Eventually, three trains would stack up waiting to use the westbound main this afternoon. At 1:13, the switch tender reappeared and lined the crossover switches for the coal load. The switches were not thrown until eastbound trains passed the last signal at the west end of Osceola, to avoid having to flag by a red signal. However, the coal load got a red signal anyway, perhaps because the westbound train had already entered the block in front of it.

The coal train, behind BN 5012, 7257, and Oakway 9099, entered the crossover at 1:24 and pulled slowly by and onto the eastbound main. The train, which had a few BN cars mixed in with DWEX gons, cleared the crossover (49K .au sound file) at 1:34. This opened the track for the waiting westbounds, which sped through Osceola in rapid succession. Train 161, with engines BN 5045, LMX 8576, 8547, 8538, and BN 7904 came by the depot at 1:39. Behind 161 was a coal empty of ARHX gondolas at 1:50, with Oakways 9057 and 9013, and BN 5513. The last of the three waiting trains was hotshot 65, a short train of piggybacks and containers. It passed the depot at 2:03 with BN 7214, 5536, and 5063 on the point.

Crossover Osceola - June 13

Byron and I agreed to meet at Creston around 10:00 on Thursday, so I headed for Osceola at 8:30, figuring that if, by some miracle, Amtrak were on time, I'd catch it and then go over to Creston. I arrived just in time to hear the first of two eastbounds hit the detector east of town. The second, a manifest, appeared at 9:08 behind LMX 8576 and BN 4059. This was the last train to use the eastbound main before the steel gang took over for the day at 9:15.

Since Amtrak wasn't due for at least another half hour, I headed west to Creston to meet Byron. At the east end of the yard in Creston, I found two SD-70 MACs, BNSF 9747 and 9745 on the head end of a string of WRDX coal loads. The crew was just being picked up as I arrived. 492's train, which does not leave until around 3:00 in the afternoon, had also pulled in and parked on the south side of the yard. On the head end of 492 were BN 2805 and GT 5700. The yard switcher today was BN 2807.

I drove on down to the depot to find 30 children from the Wee Care day care center waiting for the CZ to take them to Osceola. One of the day care people was on hold at the pay phone trying to find out where the train was. I told them to get ready because I'd heard them say that they were just 10 miles out. Amtrak arrived behind ATK 386 and 394 at 10:12, just an hour and a half down. In today's short consist:

1500 Material Car
1586 Material Car
1206 Baggage Car
39026 Transition Sleeper
32071 Sleeping Car
32118 Sleeping Car
32005 Sleeping Car
38046 Dining Car
33022 Lounge Café
34051 Coach (Wee Care Car today)
34056 Coach
31003 Coach Baggage
34001 Coach
There wasn't even time for a smoke today. They were out at 10:14, running on the westbound track to Osceola in order to make room for the steel gang.

Byron and I decided to head back to the east, since there would be no more traffic until Amtrak gave up the westbound main. We stopped in Murray, Iowa to wait for the next westbound, which turned out to be a coal empty. It came slowly into Murray at 11:22, pulled by BN 9236 and "Kodachrome" SF 8139. The AEPX gons rolled to a stop in Murray and then proceeded, due to signal trouble on the westbound main.

We went on east toward Osceola, stopping to check out the work of the steel gang around MP 362. Their collection of equipment was in use changing out the continuous welded rail on the eastbound main.

Back in Osceola, we got lunch and waited for more trains. At 1:09, the north track detector announced that it was 87 degrees, and a very short train 491 came into town behind SF 6359 and BN 3133. 491 was followed closely by intermodal train 65, which came by the Osceola depot at 1:47. A few auto racks led the containers and pigs today. In the lead were BN 7013, 6923 and cabless 4001. We heard from the scanner that 491 would be yarded at Creston so that 65 could pass it.

Since Byron's car was in Creston, we drove back to the west, pacing train 65. It can be hard to keep up with this train as it crosses Iowa, but with the steel gang's Form B to pass, and the signal problems, we had no trouble beating it to Creston. We found 491's train in the yard when we arrived. 65 rolled in for a quick crew change at 2:57, and was on the way again at 3:01, giving us a good chance to look over the power, including cabless 4001.

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