Pacific Junction is in southwest Iowa near the Nebraska border. It is the junction of the BNSF's east/west mainline and two mains that run to Council Bluffs to the north and to St. Joseph, MO. to the south. It can be reached from Interstate 29 by turning east onto Hwy. 978, and then immediately turning north onto a county road. About a mile north, this road crosses the E/W main and the west wye tracks. If you are following US Highway 34 west along the BNSF in Iowa, turn off onto Hwy. 385 at Glenwood and follow it west into the town of Pacific Junction. The area in the middle of the four wye track junction is open and accessable to railfans. Just west of the junction is a yard where BNSF stores a few hundred faded green boxcars.
Traffic may arrive at the junction from any direction, but the east/west main and the routes to the south are the busiest. The north legs of the wye tracks appear to be seldom used. Traffic from the east comes to the junction on one of two mains, which join at a high speed switch. This switch has a powered, movable frog plus two sets of machinery to move the points. Crews are warned to throw all parts of the switch if it must be moved manually.
Pacific Junction is at milepost 475 on the BNSF. After going west past the junction, mileage starts over at 0.0. The 50 mph, swing-frog switch (above) is at MP 0.2. Trains on the E/W main cross the Missouri river bridge at MP 3.8. Traffic coming to the junction from the south on the Napier Subdivision reachs the junction at MP 173.9. Radio traffic can be somewhat confusing at the junction, because trains going north and south (geographically) at the junction are referred to in terms of their direction on the E/W main. A train referred to on the radio as "westbound", is equally likely to appear at the junction (geographically) from the east or from the south!
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