Too Many Stops at Beech

May 10 through May 23


'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

Monday, May 10 - 6:30 P.M.

At the grade crossing in Beech, I find a parked grain empty with UP 8556 and 8541.  Definitely not one of EMD's more attractive nose designs, is it?

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.

Friday, May 14 - 4:30 P.M.

After going through on Hwy. 92 eastbound, I hear a warrant read to a southbound, so I turn around and head for the bridge.  The train races through with UP 8244 and a second unit I didn't get.  After watching the train pass I head on over to Susan's place.

Saturday, May 15 - 1:15 P.M.

Just after lunch on a nice sunny afternoon I headed for the acreage.  At Beech a northbound was taking the siding for a meet so I drove into town to catch them.  On the point were UP 8504 and 5979.  They were expecting a good meet, so they blocked the road crossing and pulled on up to the signals at "CP U053", the north end of the siding and beginning of CTC.

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.

Sunday, May 16 - 5:50 P.M.

Eastbound, as I came over the rise in Hwy. 92 where I could view the UP's overpass, I saw a northbound rolling across the bridge.  I turned onto county S-31 and hurried to the grade crossing about a mile north of town.  My efforts were rewarded this time with an as yet un-patched CNW unit, 8729.  Trailing it elephant-style was NS 8351.

Monday, May 17 - 4:30 P.M.

A northbound grain empty is to meet a southbound and tie down in the siding, and has pulled in when I arrive.  The southbound is crossing the Hwy. 92 overpass.  I go to the bridge south of the siding to catch the southbound, which has has a warrant from CP U053 to Beech with a Box 17, "Other Specific Instructions - the South Switch at Beech is lined for the siding."  They've just stopped and the conductor is out to throw the switch when I reach the bridge.  They are read another warrant that will take them to CP U365 (Allerton - MP Zero on the "Short Line"), and roll at 4:42.  Trailing UP 4695 is UP 1829.  I watch them head south before driving up to the grade crossing in Beech (Indiana St.) to see the head end of the grain empty, with UP 7007 and 4285.

Tuesday, May 18 - 6:00 P.M.

As I leave Indianola around 4:45, I hear discussion on the radio in Des Moines as the M-ITKC makes a setout at Avon.  They are to come south and meet a grain empty waiting at Beech.  When I get to Beech, I drive to the Indiana St. crossing and find that it is blocked by the train.  They have pulled up as far north as possible, but still "foul the OS" at the south end.  After the setout, the M-ITKC, now at Carlisle, is having trouble linking their EOT device and finally ends up having it trucked to the head end.

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.

Sunday, May 23 - 7:50 P.M.

Susan and I drive over to Beech and find yet another grain empty in the siding.  A crew is aboard and they will soon head for Des Moines.  On the point are UP 5986 and 7111.

That's It!