Southern Iowa Summer


It finally (after too much rain) feels like summer is here in Iowa. Jan and I celebrated the season with a Friday of train-watching. Our first stop was Osceola, to see how the steel gang was progressing with the new welded rail, and to catch Amtrak as it went through. We learned from the switch tender assigned to the crossover at Osceola that the eastbound CZ had encountered a rock slide and would be at least 10 to 12 hours late!

The steel gang had already taken the eastbound main by the time we arrived, and eastbound trains were being reversed, crossing over to the normal track at Osceola. At 9:24 a coal load, consisting of 116 CEPX gons, appeared behind Oakway Leasing 9084, BN 5031, and SF 8122, and headed through the crossover. We knew from the scanner that another coal load was out of Creston, so we went west to find the steel gang. They were at a gravel road crossing around MP 365, and the coal train came by them just before 10:00, with MACs 9672 and 9655 on the point. Again, there were 116 cars, UCEX aluminum hoppers built in January of '96. We checked out the steel gang's work and then went back into Osceola just in time to see the coal train going through the crossover.

By this time, westbound trains were waiting east of Osceola to use the westbound main to Creston. The first one, 107 empty ARHX gons, came by the depot at 10:30 with BN 9462 and 9644 on the point. Close behind, at 10:37, was another 107 car set, this time DEEX coal gons. Leading this train were BN 5130 (with red number boards) and OWY 9068.

Jan and I headed on east to Maxon to see if we could intercept the next two westbound trains. We were just a couple of minutes late, and saw the tail end of train 161 heading down the south (no. 2) track. The lead engine today was SF 5145. We parked and waited just a few minutes for train 65, which arrived at 11:53. In the lead today was BN 8111 followed by cabless 4042 and 4048. When I got back to the car, Jan said that someone had come on the radio as 65's head end passed and said something about, "...you on the Internet"! Nearby, BN 2814 and some ballast hoppers waited in the clear on the eastbound siding.

Our general objective for the day was to visit the Appenoose County railroad, so we got our lunch and took it with us south to Moravia for a picnic by the old Wabash depot, which serves as the Moravia Historical Society museum. When we arrived, APNC 973 was switching just north of the depot. They shoved a cut of grain hoppers north out of town before I could get a picture.

As we ate our lunch, Bill and Delores Burkland arrived, and I introduced Jan to them. Bill let us into the museum so that Jan could have a look around, and also told us of some train rides that were coming up soon on the APNC. On the weekend of June 29 and 30, people will be able to ride from Moravia to Moulton Junction and return, with several trips being offered each day. Jan and I promised to return and document the event for Virtual Train Watching in Iowa. We went on south to Centerville and found the headquarters of the APNC. The cars to be used for the above excursion were stored on the property, along with the APNC's second diesel, 116, and an ex-BN caboose, number 11396(?).

We went west out of Centerville and then north to the CP line at Mystic. Mystic is the site of an old steel railroad water tank. The community recently was awarded a grant by KCCI TV in Des Moines to restore and preserve the tank, which is just a few yards from the CP main.

We went back through Moravia to see if APNC 973 was around, and found that the crew had already been through and headed south. We went back to Albia and went out to the west end of the BNSF CTC at Halpin to wait for some traffic that we knew was in the area. At 3:17, a coal empty that had gone down the hill on track 2 crossed over to the westbound main. MACs 9679 and 9420 brought 117 CEPX hoppers through the crossover. Very shortly, the power switches lined for the mains, and an eastbound coal load of 117 GCCX and CWEX cars headed up the hill behind BN 9259 and OWY 9047.

We went west to Chariton and got there just in time to pick up a northbound UP manifest on the Spine Line. We caught up with the train, powered by UP 3580 and 3553 in Williamson at 4:30, and stopped to take their picture again at 5:00 in Melcher. Another UP train, 6859 North, trailed the 3580 up the Spine. The first train's crew was running out of time, and the train was too long to fit in any of the sidings, so they were to run north to Hartford and be relieved there. Spine dispatcher Myra (MDG), instructed the second train to pick up two cars at Beech and put their train in the siding there.

That's It!