Creston is in southwest Iowa on US Highway 34, about 30 miles west of Interstate 35. Creston got its name from a railroad survey crew that found it to be the highest point as they went between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. The city is a division point on the BNSF, and a stop for Amtrak trains 5 and 6, the California Zephyr. The original depot has been restored and now holds the offices of the Chamber of Commerce, a museum, and Creston's City Hall. Passenger service stops are made at a nearby AmShack. Branch lines once went both north and south from Creston, and a portion of the northern branch remains.
Most of the traffic through the Creston yard is coal and grain. One finds grain elevators at both ends of the yard, and a steady stream of loaded and empty coal trains pass through the city, pausing only to change crews. Except for the restored depot, almost all remnants of 100 years of railroading in Creston are gone. If you look carefully at the open area northeast of the current yard office, the remains of a turntable pit and some of its tracks can be identified. Today, engine servicing at Creston is very limited.
The east side of the city surrounds the yard, which extends between Elm Street on the west and Osage street on the east. There is an underpass at Osage and another, under the center of the yard, at Cedar Street. The Elm Street grade crossing is near the old depot, where you may obtain the map above. As you might infer from the accompanying images, the area is readily accessable to railfans. Just west of New York Street, the route changes from double to single track, marking the beginning of the Nebraska Division. The double track east of Creston is operated under track warrant control, while to the west are sections of one and two track CTC territory.
Creston is at milepost 393 on the BN. Trains approaching the yard generally notify the yardmaster when passing through Afton (MP 383.6) to the east, and Prescott (MP 406.7) or Cromwell (approx. 397) to the west. BNSF radio communication changes channels at Creston, so it is necessary to monitor two frequencies in order to hear the calls to the yardmaster. The Amtrak schedule calls for the eastbound at about 8:45 a.m., and the westbound at about 9:45 p.m.
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