The Field Trip from Hell
Waiting on Amtrak

We arrived in Osceola about 10:30, and checked inside the depot to see how number six was doing. The board indicated "at least 2 hours" late. The schedule time is 9:15. Outside, a friendly fellow in a Mustang told us that he'd just had a call from his wife, and the people he was supposed to pick up at the train had called from Lincoln, Nebraska at 10:00. I told him that if that were the case, it would be well after 1:00 before they made it to Osceola.

We heard the detector east of town announce at train, "...north track, no defects...", and waited to see westbound 161 go by at 10:57, behind BN 8181, cabless BN 4109, and ILS 1365. We had started out of town when the detector announced another westbound, so we returned to see a coal empty, RR083, 114 OGSX cars pulled by SD70 MACs 9481 and 9581. It passed the depot at 11:13.

We drove west along highway 34 toward Creston, pacing the coal empty at 60+ mph, and arrived at 11:52. There, at the east end of the yard, we found 492's train parked awaiting a crew and mid-afternoon departure. On the headend were BN GeePs 2777 and 2136. We found three other GeePs sitting around in the yard that day, BN 2138, 2963, and 2368. There were also several waycars, BN 12555, 12266, and 12501.

Train 161, which we'd seen in Osceola, was just pulling in for a crew change as we arrived, and we got a closer look at its power: BN 8181, BN 4109, and Independent Locomotive Service 1365. ILS, according to the plate on the loco, is headquartered in Bethel, Minnesota.

The AmShack in Creston was packed with an antsy group of youngsters, accompanied by a few adults. I talked to one of the grown-ups who seemed to be in charge, named John Lowe. Mr. Lowe is a seventh grade geography teacher who takes several Saturdays each fall to take students on a train ride. His group of 29 seventh graders and 9 cub scouts had left Osceola for Creston on a school bus at 7:45 that morning, and were waiting to board the CZ for a half hour ride back home.

While we talked, the OGSX empty came in, changed crews, pulled by the old depot and left. We went out for some lunch and returned to see the KK119 at 1:38, another coal empty, of UCEX cars, behind BN 7233, SF 8135, BN 7160, and BN 8030. We learned from the outbound crew of this train that Amtrak was now projected to arrive at Creston around 2:40 in the afternoon.

At 2:25 (more than 5 1/2 hours late), #6 finally appeared, pulled by ATK 505, 500, and 387. The consist: Material cars 1545, 1539, 1404, Baggage 1159, Transition Sleeper 39010, Coach 34101, Diner 38047, Sightseer Lounge 33037, Coach 34038, Coach Baggage 31026, Sleeping Car 32022, Sleeping Car 32093, Coach Baggage 31025, Coach 34058, Diner 38002, Sleeping Car 32069, Sleeping Car 32047 and Coach Dorm 39917. After three spots, the field trip group was put aboard the last car, and they were away at 2:32.

We learned from the Amtrak crew that signal trouble between Hastings and Dorchester, Nebraska had forced the train to run at 20 mph for almost 70 miles of its trip. On the radio, the dispatcher was discussing plans to relieve the crew at Albia, Iowa.

Train 492 took the eastbound track after Amtrak, and we followed them back toward Osceola. At around 3:00, we saw westbound piggyback train #65 just outside of Murray.

Back in Osceola, #6 was just making it's third spot, having already unloaded 45 senior citizens from Minnesota who'd been to Las Vegas. The school children and cub scouts alighted from their Coach Dorm on the rear end, the highball was given, and Amtrak was on its way again at 3:15, exactly 6 hours down.

On the way over from Creston, 492's crew had called in to report that their second unit, 2136, was indicating low water and was off line. They made arrangements with the Amtrak agent in Osceola, "J.R." (since he was still there today), to borrow a garden hose and refill the unit. At 3:40, just as 492 was getting its air again, a westbound coal empty of AEPX cars arrived behind BN 9445 and BN 5101. Soon, 492 was back underway, and we decided to head up the road to Indianola. On the way to Indianola, we heard 492 arrange to stop at Chariton and pick up a unit from a westbound.

That's it!