'K, I admit that I've reached the point where I just drive on by. The UP's "Spine Line" is so busy/congested these days that I seldom make my commute between Susan's place and mine without seeing traffic at Beech. Lately I've been taking the underpass on Hwy. 92 with trains overhead, conversations on the scanner about "dying on the law", will we fit in the siding", where's our van?", etc., and (yawn) just kept rolling. I promise to go elsewhere for my next excursion
Tuesday, May 11 - 5:50 A.M.
The reading of a warrant on the radio has tipped me off to a southbound so I take up my usual post on the bridge south of the siding. It's a foggy morning and while I wait I take a shot of the mud-filled roadbed below. Iowa's wet this month and in a couple of weeks the UP will be running pumps south of here to keep the water away from the rails. The manifest appears with the same ugly power I saw on the grainer last night. A wide load is at the head end and a switcher is in tow near the rear.
I went to the bridge to await the southbound M-DMKC, which had a warrant to Williamson. They showed at 1:23 and pulled down to a stop at the south end where the switch was lined against them. The conductor, looking very chic in his orange safety vest, through the switch over to the mainline route and they were soon on the move again. I took a couple of pictures as they rolled under the bridge and accelerated away to the south. The second unit was UP 8558, and the consist was mostly empty covered hoppers.
I spent the afternoon and early evening adding some new rail to the south end of our garden railroad out at Susan's place. We took a quick trip out to Beech around 8:30 to catch a southbound. We'd done this once before earlier in the month, but I lost the pictures due to a memory card failure. The water along the right of way below the bridge had hatched a horde of mosquitoes and I had to get the bug spray out of the Jeep's glovebox and apply it while I waited for the train. Susan took refuge in the car, but came out to watch the train pass. The southbound had three units, a UP, CEFX? and SP. By the time they finally came through, it had gotten way too dark for pictures.
I drive to the crossing on S-31 north of Beech to await the Itaska to Kansas City train. On the radio the dispatcher and yardmaster are beginning to worry about the grain empty crew, who are short on time. The train crew tell the dispatcher that they "...can't stay here, we've got the crossing blocked and we barely fit the siding." It is determined that the southbound will fit on the main, "...by four or five cars.", and a decision is made to relieve the grain empty at Carlisle, provided the ITKC can get moving soon.
On the way south, the ITKC gets into a little warrant dispute with the Trenton sub. dispatcher. He tries to give them a warrant from Beech to Williamson with a Box 7, "Not in effect until after the arrival of...", but they think it should be two warrants, one from CP U053 to Beech and another from there to Williamson. The dispatcher states that because the northbound is fouling the O.S., they will have to be talked by the signal at the north end of the siding anyway, but eventually the crew prevails and separate warrants are copied.
The southbound finally appears north of Beech at 6:15. The train has three UP units, 7318, 7303 and 7310. Near the head end are eighteen loads of large pipe. By 6:34 the manifest has gotten in the clear on the main and the grain train, having now blocked the grade crossing for over an hour, is able to come out of the siding and start north toward Des Moines. The grain empty, powered by UP 9364 and 2452, which appears to have been putting in lots of time as a trailing unit, passes the grade crossing around 6:36. On my way on over to Susan's I hear the ITKC get its second warrant at 6:45.
Friday, May 21 - 6:00 A.M.
Westbound early in the morning, I hear a warrant given to a southbound work extra. On the Hartford detector (MP 61.6) they register just 32 axles. I have only a short wait at the bridge before the train appears with EMDX 2822 and UP 7007, 6354 and 8268. Trailing are just a couple of pieces of equipment, maybe a ballast cleaner - undercutter setup?
That evening Susan and I return to the bridge to catch a meet between a short ballast load and a northbound manifest. At 8:40 the ballast train, with UP 2228 and 3174, stops on the main and throws the south siding switch so that the northbound will be lined in. It's 9:00 before we see the headlight of the northbound show. In the darkness, I attempt some flash photos of the trains. The manifest is led by UP 8542, its only unit. They roll into the siding and the ballast train's headlight comes up as they highball at 9:08.