Spring Break 2005

Marshalltown and Fort Madison


Wednesday, March 16

My younger son Aaron was on break from his college job this week, too, and we arranged to meet Wednesday and do a little train watching along the UP.  I left the acreage near Pleasantville around 6:30 and drove to Indianola to get Aaron.  We had a clear morning, just below freezing.  We went through Des Moines, checking out Short Line Yard, and then followed the "Spine Line" to the north.  From the scanner we learned that there were a couple of northbounds waiting near Nevada for a southbound to clear.

We found the trailing manifest near the MP 104 detector at about 9:00.  On the point were UP 9099 and 9059.  The leading train was a coal load that was on the main east of Nevada with the southbound in the siding and rolling to a stop when we arrived at 9:15.  The lead unit coming south was UP 4537, followed by 9051 and another that we didn't get before we left to chase the coal train to the north.

We drove to Furnald to intercept the two north bound trains.  While waiting, I got some shots of the interesting old elevators, no longer serviced by the railroad.  At 9:24 the coal train showed up with UP 5685 and SP 141 in charge of a set of WPSX cars.  We went to the first crossing south of Furnald to catch the manifest we'd seen earlier, watching UP 9099 and UP 9059 head north on the old Rock Island route.

Aaron and I went east along old Hwy. 30 and then along gravel roads near the rails all the way over to Marshalltown, but didn't run into any trains.  In Marshalltown I went to the east end of the yard where a freight train, stopped on the mainline, was just about to leave town at 10:40.  Leading this train were UP 7037 and 6823.  We hung around this area long enough to see the Eddyville/Oskaloosa local leaving.  UP 2090 and 394 led this train out of the yard at 11:00

We went back to the old depot area on the north side of the mainlines for the next few trains, all eastbounds.  At 11:13 we had a coal train with UP 7156 and 6536 on the front and UP 6654 shoving on the rear.  I took Aaron to Taylor's Maid-Rites to pick up some sandwiches to go, but forgot to remind him and he ordered you-know-what.  The waitress and I did a little choral reading, "They don't have ketchup!"

Back trackside we intercepted a train of empty autoracks at 11:30 behind UP 5048 and 4620.  As you can see in the long shot, Main 1 was occupied by a track gang replacing some ties.  Just before noon a stacker came through powered by UP 4279 (really needing to visit the washrack) and 4160.

Aaron had to be back home fairly early in the afternoon so we retraced our route back to Nevada and Des Moines without seeing another train.  I'd not checked out Professor Tinder's office (that was my Bob Dylan poster)  at Grandview before, so we stopped for a minute there before returning to Indianola.


Friday, March 18

Susan and I had a reservation at the Kingsley B&B in Fort Madison for Friday night.  We left fairly early in the day and took our time going east along Hwy 92.  At lunch time we remembered an article in the Des Moines Register recently about a Mexican restaurant in Columbus Junction.  I'd been wanting to get some pictures of the buildings lining the old BCR&N route anyway, so we dropped in at La Reyna grocery and cafe for lunch.  Authentic and very tasty!

Our next stop was Burlington where we saw a coal load at 2:15.  This train, powered by BNSF 8968 and 9529 (actually powered by gravity at this point!) came slowly down the hill and around the corner to pass the depot before going out onto the Mississippi River bridge.  A single unit, BNSF 2944, was parked in the yard.

Before continuing on south we waited for a "Kemper" train coming up the K-Line.  It arrived at the South Street corner where the mains turn onto the bridge at 2:40.  Led by BNSF 8847 and BN 9605, they came onto the eastbound main, crossed over to the westbound and pulled down to the depot for a crew change.  We drove to the depot to await the crew change and watch 8847 roll slowly past the passenger shelters and turn west for the climb up Burlington Hill.


Saturday, March 19

I was up early after a night of sleep frequently interrupted by the airhorns of the passing parade of BNSF trains (mostly intermodals) on the old Santa Fe line in front of the Kingsley.  I drove to the yard office, which also serves as the Amtrak stop for the Southwest Chief.  The parking lot was overflowing with Amtrak's spring break customers.  A stack train awaiting power sat on the siding track, nearest the depot.  At 5:20 BNSF 4462 and 4415 pulled out of the yard and moved back and forth through the East Fort Madison interlocker before backing onto the train.

Just a couple of minutes later an eastbound intermodal with BNSF 5047, 4498, 4091 and 5140 stopped for a quick crew change.  I went to get some coffee and returned in time to see a westbound stack train make its crew change at 5:50.  On the point were BNSF 4780, 4603 and 711.  Before heading back to the Kingsley, I got a couple of pictures of BNSF 4413, parked at the east end of the yard with some pilot damage.

Susan and I went to breakfast Saturday morning at the Inn and were served "Strawberry Cheesecake French Toast" (with whipped cream).  Kind of over the top as breakfasts go...  Fortunately there were a number of other choices.  I recall encountering this incredibly rich dish several years ago when I came to the Kingsley by myself.  It's definitely time to change the menu.  If you stay on Saturday night, you get to go to the Sunday brunch at Alpha's, a restaurant below the Kingsley.  Highly recommended.

On the way out of town about 9:00 we caught a short westbound stack train coming off the bridge.  Leading were BNSF 7020, 6950, 7307 and 8108.  Saturday morning's weather was rapidly deteriorating and we drove north to Burlington in wind and rain.  From the scanner I knew that a train was coming down the hill, so we waited until 9:45 until it arrived.  This appeared to be the M-DMOWQM, judging from the consist.  The train had just one unit, EMDX 760.  I got a few shots of as the conductor walked the train through the switches and onto yard track 1.

We headed west on Hwy. 34 and I called Amtrak's "Julie" to see how No. 6 was doing.  It sounded like we could easily beat them to her predicted 11:05 stop in Mt. Pleasant.  We got to Mt. Pleasant and found a parking spot on the north side of the tracks (this lot too was overflowing).  At 11:20 the detector east of town announced a 518 axle train on Main 1.  This turned out to be a JHMX coal empty with BN 9610, 9453 and BNSF 9818 in the lead.  They were well clear of the depot before the headlights of the Zephyr showed up at 11:30.

In the passenger train today:

AMTK 123 and 133
Baggage 1733
Sleeping Cars 32030, 32021 and 32018
Diner 38039
Sightseer Lounge 33019
Coaches 34000, 31023 and 34095
One XpressTrak Reefer - 74100
The depot was crowded and the train had a fairly long stop, reporting ":33 and :41" to dispatcher KRS.  The rain had stopped, but it was very wind-chilly standing outside to take pictures.  We warmed up in the car and stopped for lunch in Fairfield before heading on home.

That's It!