Around the Block
March 31, 1997

Monday was a perfect spring day in Iowa - clear and 65 degrees. I'd been told by a railfan aquaintance that the Melcher depot was about to be torn down, so I decided to check it out. From the scanner, I knew that a southbound was already in the siding at Beech, waiting on the KSIT. I drove to a county road overpass just south of the siding and waited for the northbound to get there.

At 12:20, UP 606 and CNW 8663 came into sight, with a block of coal loads on the head end of their train, and pulled into the Beech siding. There was quite a variety of hoppers, with reporting marks from DRGW, UP/CTRN, IATR, BN and HMJX. After they cleared, the brakeman lined the switch for the main and CNW 6843 and UP 3622 pulled south at 12:26.

I drove on down to Melcher, passing just in front of 6843 at the highway 181 overpass. Once at the depot in Melcher, I found that it appeared that the building had been emptied and the electricity had been cut off. This structure once served the Rock Island's Kansas City Shortline, constructed in the early 1910s.

I waited for what seemed like quite a while for 6843 to make it to Melcher. They finally appeared and were announced on the radio as they hit the detector at 1:05. The message after the train cleared said that the temperature was "six two degrees".

After taking another picture or two of the depot, went south to Chariton to see what the BNSF was up to this afternoon. At the west end of town, I just missed a coal empty with two MACs and GCCX gons. However, as I looked down the line to the west, I could see that a load was coming by them on the south track. They came across the "Hy Vee" crossing at 1:48. On the point were BNSF 9742 and BN 9422.

Back in town, a piece of work equipment came rolling in on the westbound. A warrant was obtained to use about a mile of the eastbound so that it could be turned on the wye that goes south behind the Hy Vee headquarters.

At 3:18, another coal load showed up and wound through the "S" curve in the middle of Chariton. Leading the AEPX gondolas were OWY 9016, and BN 9222 and 5063. Another load was not far behind, so I went west to Lucas to catch them. They came by me, with BN 7885, 9244 and 5124 in charge of FSTX gons, at 3:36 and started the climb up Whitebreast hill. Knowing that they would slow considerably in the next few minutes, I took the highway back to the east and caught them again under the S23 overpass as they approached the west side of Chariton. The westbound main is just at the top of the cut on the far side of these pictures. Eastbound and westbound mains are on different grades here, so that the coal loads have a longer but less steep grade to climb.

That's It!