The Purple Martin Leaves Iowa
Pufferbilly Days in Boone
Ringling, Barnum and Bailey Cars


Jan and I made a quick loop on Saturday, traveling from home in Indianola west to Atlantic, north to Carroll, back east to Boone, and then south through Des Moines and back to Indianola. It was a perfect early fall day in Iowa, with temperatures in the upper 60s and clear skies. In the account below, you will find images of the Purple Martin train, activities at Boone's Pufferbilly days, and circus train equipment. We had rather poor luck catching any "real" trains, but there was plenty to see at each of our stops along the way.

We went west along the Iowa Interstate line, monitoring the scanner as usual, but didn't hear or see any trains on the way to Atlantic. A couple of days ago on the Railroad mailing list, Richard Brundage kindly supplied a list of the Purple Martin equipment and the price each piece obtained at auction. The list is reproduced below. Of the equipment auctioned off, nine cars were left in front of the old Rock Island depot in Atlantic, and I've put in a links to images of them.

Date:         Fri, 8 Sep 1995 13:40:00 -0500
Reply-To: The Railroad List 
Sender: The Railroad List 
From: Richard Brundage 
Organization: .. Black Gold BBS - Tulsa, OK - 918-272-7779 - telnet bgbbs.com //
Subject:      Purple Martin
To: Multiple recipients of list RAILROAD 

        The Mixed Train, publication of the Camerail Club of Omaha in its
latest issue offered the following info on the final sales prices of the cars.
Caboose (ex L&N?)               $9250  UP 502 coach                      6750
L&N 3003 Lounge                  5000  Milw 502 coach                    2250
RI 411 diner                     8000  L&N 3467 slpr                     6500
IC 2902 coach                    3250  IC 2819 coach                     6000
L&N 3002 lounge                  6750  IC 2838 coach                     5000
UP 500 coach                     3700  IC 2801 coach                     4400
IC 2839 coach                    4250  MILW 629 coach                    3000
UP 501 coach                     3500  IC 2840 coach                     4200
L&N 3472 slpr                    5500  L&N 3456 slpr                     7000
IC 2900 coach                    5750  IC 2901 coach                     4500
MILW 623 coach                   4000  IC 2903 coach                     4250
UP 503 coach                     5250  RI 4319 slpr                      5250
GMO 5461 slpr                    5500  City of Memphis slpr              6250
MILW 622 coach                   3250  IC 2904 coach                     4750
MILW 486 coach                   2750  MILW 621 coach                    2000
CBQ Hudson 3007                 70000
        I believe they had at one time, some IC slprs too.
There was one other car, which I couldn't find in the above list. Perhaps someone else can help with its identification. It was labeled TVRM 2599, and had a rounded end. The other end of it appears in the image of L&N 3472, above. We found IAIS spreader 9500 sitting in the same yard area. The IAIS yard office stands at the west end of the yard area, displaying its large red and yellow safety reminder sign.

We went next up highway 71 to the junction with I-80, where CB&Q 3007 remains near the original site of the Purple Martin equipment. The loco had been moved to the north, and stood under the I-80 overpass. No other Purple Martin equipment remained at the site. I took several images of the loco:

As you can see, the engine had been placed so that its left side was against a small tree. Portions of the westbound interstate overpass appear in the pictures, as well. Naturally, just as we were leaving, we heard IAIS 601 East get a warrant at Atlantic, and be told to skip their pickup, so we'd not be able to catch them.

Our next stop was in Audubon, were we paid a quick visit to our son Byron and his wife Tammi. The old Rock Island branch from Atlantic to Audubon, on which CB&Q 3007 was sitting in the images above, has been abandoned but enough of it is still in place to allow the Purple Martin equipment to be moved southwest to Atlantic. Byron is just beginning to build a small HO layout, and had pieces of plywood and track laid out in an upstairs bedroom. Temporary wiring allowed him to demonstrate some switch moves for us.

We went on north to Carroll, got some MacSandwiches and went to the old CNW depot for lunch. Traffic was light on the UP, but we did catch one DAPX coal empty at 1:00, behind UP 6359 and 9282.

The streets of downtown Boone were blocked off, and traffic was heavy everywhere in the town. We made our way slowly to the Boone and Scenic Valley depot. Restored Charles City Western car 50 was shuttling passengers back and forth between the depot and downtown Boone. In these images, the car is being boarded and leaving on a trip to the east. In about 20 minutes, it returns, switches trolley pole ends, and reloads for another round trip.

Among the activities scheduled for the day were handcar races. Crews of 2 or 4 persons raced the clock on a 1/4 mile course. The 4 man team of HyVee employees, including Simpson College freshman Spencer Vaughn (right front in image) won with a time of 41.84 seconds. Spencer has worked at the B&SV since he was 13, and has both fired and operated their steam loco.

The B&SV Chinese steamer returned from its trip to Fraser Springs just as the handcar races were completed. Here, it crosses Division Street, blowing its whistle (Audio, 163K .au File). It headsthrough the crossover before pulling down to drop 8 carloads of passengers at the depot. The engine is cut off of the train and spotted by the water tower, just west of Harrison Street for pictures and so that visitors may inspect the cab.

After a visit to Boone Hobbies, we drove south to Des Moines, and went into the downtown area south of the loop to get some pictures of circus train equipment. We'd made a preliminary search earlier in the week, and had found only some of the animal cars, just south of the recently abandoned NS yard office. These four cars, 60014, 60004, 60010, and 60003 were parked near 16th and Market.

The rest of the train turned out to be parked in the old Chicago and Great Western yard along Bell Avenue. There we found the following cars, in this order west to east: 60001, 40011, 42204, 41405, 42102, 42109, 42303, 42107, 63001, 60011, 42203, 41305, 42110, 41310, 41302, 41304, 42105, 43001, 42101, 42103, 42104, 41404, 42106, 40013, 42006, 40014, 60002, 84802, and 84801. The cars were connected to a nearby fire hydrant. 42102 carried a couple of spare wheelsets, chained to the underbody of the car. Near the center of the string of cars was what appeared to be a generator car, with unusual vents and underbody tanks. Many of the cars carried the new small satellite dishes, and several had a bicycle chained to a truck.

At the east end, near the old yard office, there were two flat cars with containers. The bridge above is the Southwest 9th Street viaduct. I think there may have been an empty flat over by the NS yard office as well, but I didn't get its number. The old CGW yard office windows and doors carried signs indicating that the people within had nothing to do with the circus or the railroad! That's yours truly and the QuickTake camera reflected in the window.

That's It!