Jan and I left Indianola around 9:00, hoping to stay out from under the clouds spreading over the state from the west. We followed the UP "Spine" line (formerly the Rock Island Kansas City Short Line) up from Carlisle to Des Moines. At the Avon grain elevators, we found UP 637 on the front of some work equipment. In Des Moines' Short Line Yard, it looked like the UP had a couple of trains ready to go. At 9:50, we saw the tail end of a southbound heading into Hull Avenue yard as we were working our way up to the north end of the yard. UP 2245 was idling in front of the Hull yard office.
We decided to not wait for a northbound to leave Des Moines, but to just head on up the Spine line toward Nevada. After reaching the KC/Chicago Junction area, we drove west over to the east end of Ames yard. The DMEG, with CNW 6857 on the point, was waiting on the west leg of KC junction to go west, but the dispatcher indicated that there would be some westbound traffic first. We caught two westbounds as they passed, running right-handed. The first arrived at 11:15, behind CNW 8698 and 8696. This train had one auto rack followed by stackers. Just 10 minutes behind was another westbound intermodal train, led by CNW 8618, UP 3050, 3747 and 3170.
After hearing that the DMEG would be further delayed because it was being held by the Boone yardmaster, we decided to take a quick break in Nevada and drive on east over to Marshalltown. After getting lunches at Taylor's Maid-Rite, we parked by the old CNW Marshalltown depot and waited for traffic. At 12:55, an eastbound stacker came through behind UP 6332, 9542, and 6207.
After lunch, we moved to the east end of the Marshalltown yard. An eastbound train was waiting in the clear on the westbound main. At 1:12, an eastbound piggyback train with CNW 8686 7028 on the point came through. Just eight minutes behind it came UP 6305, 3543, 5055 and 3344 with containers and trailers.
We drove on out to East Marshalltown, a pair of crossovers at the end of Marshalltown yard limits. The next train, at 1:34, was the eastbound that we'd seen waiting earlier, a manifest pulled by CNW 6890, UP B4235, UP 3136, UP B4290 and UP 9425. As soon as they cleared, a train waiting just east of the crossovers came through at 1:41. This westbound stacker had interesting power: CNW 8603, CN 5313, CN 5608, CN 5635 (this might have been 5653 - my tape and Jan's notes disagree) and WC 6618. There were many CN cars and Evergreen containers.
At 1:54, a coal empty of 120 MIDX hoppers came through the crossovers behind UP 8006 and 9161. The last train we watched at East Marshalltown had been waiting to go east out of the yard, and finally crossed over onto track 1 at 2:00 p.m. This mixed manifest had CNW 6888 and UP 3733 on the point.
We went back into town to look around the yard. I stopped to get a picture of the old M and St. L freight house a few blocks west of the depot. Marshalltown has been a collecting point for retired CNW power, so we checked to see what locos were near the former repair facility. West of the turntable, we found CNW 4203, 4113, 4110, 954, 4200, 4186, 4165, 4559, and 4142.
Live power at the service track included CNW 6860, CR 6448, CNW 4629 and UP 3547.
East of the old engine shop we found CNW 4189, 4553, 6633 and 6643 (wonder who got the bells?), 4314, 6639 and 6481
While we were taking pictures of dead locos, traffic continued to flow by us on the other side of the yard. There was a westbound stacker at 2:15 and eastbound coal at 2:30. We got back to the north side in time to catch westbound containers behind UP 9520, 6306 and CNW 8665 at 2:40. Another westbound intermodal followed in 10 minutes, pulled by UP 9760, 6172, and CNW 6838.
We decided to start back west toward Nevada, and picked up the next westbound to try to pace. Referred to on the radio as the "KC Stacker", this short train had UP 5999 and CR 6604 in charge of a block of Maersk containers. We passed above them just as they cleared West Marshalltown. We managed to stay with them most of the way over to State Center. They were held east of Nevada, waiting to get onto the Spine Line, so we went ahead to see what was going on at the junction. We caught the KC Stacker at 3:50 going around the west leg of Chicago junction and heading south toward Des Moines.
We next went back up to the Heart of Iowa Coop west of KC junction, and watched an eastbound freight pull out of Ames yard behind CNW 6804 and UP 3838 at 4:10. Light power was waiting on the west leg of Chicago junction, and 6804 called them, asking, "What's the combined weight of your crew?". Apparently the mainline switch at the east end of Ames yard was a little hard to throw today.
After 6804 was out of the way, the light power came in to pick up a unit in the yard. UP 9164 and 9269, SP 9776, and CNW 8572 rolled west by us at 4:15. After picking up the extra unit, CNW 6905, they returned to the junction to turn the whole set of engines. The sunshine reappeared briefly as we watched them come around the east leg of KC junction, go under the old highway 30 overpass and wait for the signal to come back to the west.
As soon as they were done with the wye, the PRKC, behind CNW 6871, 5512 and 4107 swung around the east leg and got a warrant to go to Des Moines at 5:10. We decided to follow them south back toward home. The PRKC reported to the dispatcher that they were a "35 mph to the next detector" train. We got to Cambridge, 10 miles down the line, in time to watch the PRKC thread the gap between the abutments of the old MILW overpass and take the signal at the north end of the siding at 5:28.
We stopped for one more set of pictures just north of Elkhart as the PRKC ground slowly up the hill to the detector. I took advantage of their low speed to get a good shot of GeeP CNW 4107, still hard at work, unlike her sisters in Marshalltown.