Train Watching at Boone, Iowa

Boone is in central Iowa about 30 miles northwest of Des Moines. For many years, the town was a division point on the Chicago and North Western. Boone is the home of the Boone and Scenic Valley tourist railroad. Just west of Boone is the famous double-track "High Bridge" over the Des Moines River valley. Mainline traffic is very heavy, and it is seldom more than one half hour between trains.

To reach Boone, take US highway 30 west from Interstate 35 to state highway 17, and turn north. In a couple of miles you will reach the UP main tracks at Jordan. Go west, paralleling the tracks, into Boone on county road E41. The yard will be in sight to the north as you enter Boone. On the map above, the yard is at the right side, centered vertically. The yard is between mileposts 200.5 (Shamrock Road/BU) and 203 (Story Street).

The High Bridge appears on the map above just between sections 27 and 26. It is accessable from county gravel roads both from the northwest part of the city, and from the southwest off of highway 30. Just north of the railroad bridge is a county road bridge over the Des Moines river. The county road shown on the map intersecting the railroad just west of the bridge actually passes under it. The bridge is at MP 207.4. Spectacular views of the bridge and its traffic are available from the country roads.

On your scanner, you will hear the dispatcher, yardmaster and crews refer to various locations as trains approach Boone. The phrases, "Plan A", and "Change out front", refer to crew changes at the yard office. To the east, crews generally announce when they reach Jordan, about 4 miles from the yard, and to the west, crews will call the yard when they reach the High Bridge or, sometimes from Ogden, about 9 miles out. There are talking hot box detectors at 192.3 to the east, and 219.7 to the west. All communications, both east and west, are on Channel 1 (below).

The Boone and Scenic Valley railroad has a variety of operating equipment, including old diesel centercab switchers, a Chinese steam locomotive, and some trolley cars. Their route extends northwest from the city, along the river valley, and across the river to the small town of Fraser. Their right of way is on the former Fort Dodge, Des Moines and Southern.

Active UP frequencies in the area:

Boone and Scenic Valley frequency:

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