Eastern Iowa Railroading
June 13-29, 2012

Don Winter


This trip was to attend the 2012 NRHS Convention in Cedar Rapids, IA, including the inbound and outbound excursions from and to Chicago. As usual, we traveled out and back on Amtrak.

The Journey East (6/13-6/16)

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Having packed the night before, we get up early (for us), load the car, and drive over to the K-Mart parking lot, where we unpack the car and wait for the Amtrak bus from Victorville, which arrives just a few minutes late. The bus is just late enough getting to Bakersfield that we don't have time to take the bags into the station to check, so we load them all onto the train, and will check some of them at Emeryville, this evening. I have just long enough to collect the consist before the train is ready to depart.


F59PH                2009
Coach-Baggage  34973    Oak Grove
Coach                  8014    Colorado River
Cafe                     8804    Napa Valley
Coach                   8003    Russian River
Cab Car                8309    Mt. San Jacinto           

Train 713, 6-13-2012 Schedule Actual
Bakersfield 10:05 am 10:05 am
Wasco 10:31 10:33
Corcoran 11:07 11:04-07
Hanford 11:26 11:23-26
Fresno 12:05 pm 12:00-11 pm
Madera 12:29 12:34-36
Merced 1:08 1:03-36
Denair 1:29 2:25
Modesto 1:42 2:38
Stockton 2:18 3:16-22
Antioch 2:53 3:48-50
Martinez 3:19 4:10-15
Richmond 3:44 4:40-42
Emeryville 4:03 4:51

San Joaquin route description

The train meets a BNSF double stack at MP 898, and then nothing else until Amtrak 702 just south of Calwa (very late). We cross over at Calwa, overtake a northbound BNSF double stack, and cross back at Sunmaid, meeting Amtrak 712 at Fresno (also late). We overtake a northbound BNSF manifest north of Madera. At Merced, we begin to see what has been making the southbound Amtraks late and southbound freight non-existent. A road foreman tells the crew the train will be sitting at Merced for another 20 minutes. Signal problems up ahead are keeping Amtrak 714 from clearing the single line ahead of us.

Ir transpires that a construction crew at Shaffer Road has disabled the cabling controlling the signals between Merced and the west (north) end of the siding at Fluhr. Eventually, 714 makes his Merced stop on the grade crossing just north of the station, and then goes by us on the non-platform track. We then leave, stop at east (south) Fluhr to flag the signal, meet BNSF 4442 with an eastbound grain train in the siding at Fluhr (who has apparently been there quite a while, since he has split the train to clear intermediate crossings), and then ten minutes later, flag the signals at the west end of Fluhr, and ten minutes after that, flag the crossing at Shaffer Road, and finish flagging ten minutes after that. This makes us almost an hour late out of Denair.

We then meet a southbound BNSF intermodal just north of Denair, who will have to wait for the BNSF freight that has followed us through the flagging area. Before reaching Stockton, we stop for ten minutes for Amtrak 716, which this train usually passes out on the delta. Later, we meet a UP business car train at Pinole, and then Train 538 at Richmond, both on the double track.

At Emeryville, we check two of the bags to Chicago, and then walk over to the Hyatt House, and then later walk down to Williams-Sonoma, where we replace our mortar and pestle, and then PF Chang's for dinner.

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

This morning, we have the included breakfast in the hotel, and then walk abck over to the station in time for me to record the consist as Train 6 pulls into the platform. As I walk towards our room in the Dorm car, at the front of the train, I greet Tim Noel, who is boarding passengers in the coaches. Train 11 is a little late this morning, and thus gets into Emeryville after our train has taken the long platform track. Forced to use the outer, short, platform, Train 11 will have to make a separate stop for the coaches, after all the sleeping car work is done. Since our sleeping space is in a car separated from the other sleepers by the length of the train, I'm pleased to see that there is a coffee pot and other provisions, such as ice and juice, for the paying first-class passengers in this car. Sleeping space is full, because there is a large tour group riding in those cars, and there is another tour group riding from Sacramento to Truckee that will tax the resources of the diner to feed them lunch before the Truckee stop.


P42                     182
P42                       52
Baggage             1717    (from  coach 4735, ex-4851, nee ATSF 2838)
Dorm                39024
Coach-Baggage 31035
Coach                34005
Coach                34097
Lounge               33004
Diner                  38034
Sleeper               32030
Sleeper               32037
Sleeper               32054

Train 6, 6-14-2012 Schedule Actual
Emeryville 9:10 am 9:12 am
Richmond 9:22 9:20-22
Martinez 9:54 9:48-54
Davis 10:36 10:33-36
Sacramento 11:09 10:49-11:10
Roseville 11:35 11:32-38
Colfax 12:21 pm 12:24 pm
Truckee 2:38 3:01-05
Reno 4:06 4:13-23
Winnemucca 7:08 7:04-18
Helper 6:37 am 6:35-37
Green River 7:59 7:50-59
Grand Junction 10:23 9:47-10:23
Glenwood Springs 12:10 pm 12:03-12 pm
Granby 3:12 3:29-33
Fraser 3:50 4:11-17
Denver 6:38
Omaha 4:59 am
6:00 am
Creston 7:04 8:51-55
Osceola 7:40 9:28-32
Ottumwa 9:09 11:26-33
Mt. Pleasant 9:54 12:14-17 pm
Burlington 10:36 12:47-52
Galesburg 11:31 1:37-43
Princeton 12:23 pm 2:35
Naperville 1:43 3:45
Chicago 2:50 4:29

California Zephyr route description

I query the conductor as to why the sleeping cars are now at the opposite end of the train from the dorm car, and he doesn't know. He later comes back to tell me it's so they can add a sleeping car at Denver, which we don't see being done!

There's not much freight traffic on the Cal-P this morning. Insetad of freights, we meet Train 711 at Crockett, a Capitol at Suisun and another at MP 73, before crossing over for the Sacramento stop. We hear that 150 people board at Sacramento (due to the tour groups, no doubt). We meet our first freight train, after lunch, at Gold Run, UP 8766 west, a double stack. We then stop at Gold Run for 11 minutes, for no additional discernible reason. We then meet UP 6946 west at Midas. We make a short stop at Fulda, and then see a UP work train. Finally, we overtake UP 5539 east, a double stack, at East Troy (while that train is still moving so, the pass takes about ten minutes), and then overake a stationary eastbound grain train at Norden.

In the Truckee River canyon, a track gang is occupying one of the tracks, so we cross over twice to run around them. We then meet UP 7900 west with autoracks at Lawton crossovers, before crossing over ourselves at West Reno for the Reno stop. We then overtake another UP freight at Sutro. Later, we overtake an eastbound empty coal train at Colado. After dinner, I take some deatiled route notes on the eastward tracks filling in a section I had not been able to do before. We go to bed as the train stops in Elko.

Friday, June 15th, 2012

I awake in time to note the times at Helper, and we get up slowly in time to eat breakfast east of Green River. At 9:48 am, we meet UP 6648 west with a manifest at Grand Junction. This is the first UP train we have seen west of Grand Junction and east of Helper in several years. At 10:56 am, we pass loaded coal cars at Akin, and then UP 6013 west with empty coal cars at Una. At 11:30 am, we overtake a UP loaded coal train. At lunch, in Glenwood Canyon, we hear that the Colorado River is already at "September" levels. We meet Train 5 at Dell at 1:25 pm, then a westbound UP rock train at Bond, and BNSF 5074 west with a manifest at Radium. We stop for eleven minutes at the east end of Flat because maintenance failed to clear, then lose time due to 10 mph and 30 mph slow orders. At 3:43 pm, we trigger the dragging equipment detector at MP 71.4 and stop to inspect, finding nothing.

During the day, I get to chat with Tim, who comes to the dorm car for some down time, as well as to talk with the conductors before making his informative announcements. We discuss the detours he's been on recently, including the Wyoming route and the former C&NW east of Omaha, where he says they seem always to have to stop for three hours in Clinton while a new pilot crew appears.

At 5:28 pm, we take the siding at Plain. A train at Rocky is in emergency, and the closer locations for meeting an opposing train are already occupied. We stop at 5:31 pm. UP 6074 west, a manifest, passes us at 6:45 pm, and we start moving again at 6:49 pm. Clay is occupied by a UP work train, and Rocky by a loaded UP coal train, with an empty coal train further down the grade. Chris and I are done with dinner by the time the train leaves Denver, after which it is stopped for four minutes at 31st Street by red signals with no obvious cause. I'm in bed before Fort Morgan.

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

I awake as the train stop in Omaha, still an hour late, and then go back to sleep, arising in time to be having breakfast at Creston. During that time period, the train makes a lengthy stop at Pacific Junction due to BNSF traffic levels, starting again at 7:43 am, and immediately overtaking loaded coal cars on the south side. There is an eastbound loaded coal train and a westbound manifest at Creston, a westbound empty coal train at Afton,

We stop for five minutes at Albia to copy a Track Warrant, and then for ten minutes at Maxon for the same reason. Chris and I eat lunch at Burlington. The train meets a westbound empty ocal train east of Burlington, a westbound double stack at Cameron, and a westbound manifest along Galesburg Yard. There is massive tie replacement with a Herzog train just west of Electrics, and we meet Train 5 at Yorkville, Train 3 at Route 59, and a westbound Dinky east of Naperville. We then make an eleven minute stop on the center track at Cicero, because only one track is open ahead, due to track work and a broken down train. Then we meet NS 21V as it comes arund the curve from the four-tracks and overtake a loaded coal train turning south on the wye at 14th Street.

After reclaiming the bags and taking the elevator up to the Canal Street entrance, we take a taxi over to the Holiday Inn on Harrison Street, just a couple of blocks south. Later, we meet Tony White and Roberta Ballard as we eat dinner in the hotel.

At the Convention (6/17-6/25)

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

In the morning, sleeping later than we had on Amtrak, we have breakfast at the hotel, again with Tony and Roberta, and then take a taxi over to Union Station. Here, Chris locates the NRHS waiting area, and the people who will take the bags from us, so we go inside the Canal Street entrance and down the left-hand elevator, which delivers us directly to the waiting baggage carts. We hand over all the bags we will not want on the train, and then go into the waiting area (a room  not generally open to the public, where I exchange my first Convention Ticket with Sarah Jennings for a copy of the Route Guide for the convention trips. I sit down to look at the guide, right behind where Chris is sitting. Al Weber comes over and discusses with her his arrangement for the 'mobility impaired' when train boarding time comes. In the meantime, Chris goes off to get herself something to drink. (I have a mug of coffee from the hotel.)

As time goes by, we greet various friends whom we see either at quarterly Board Meetings or annually at Conventions, including Bob and Diane Heavenrich, Ken Brooks, Don Bishop and Nina Lawford-Juviler, Judy Decker, Dan Meyer, and Bill Dredge, as well as Al Weber. Al Weber has posted sentries at Track 19, where we will board the train, to keep the general NRHS population out, but when he takes the 'mobility impaired' over to the platform, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep others out, even though there's no train in the track as yet. Al supplies me wth the precise consist of today's train, which I write down. A decision has been made to have our train follow Amtrak 29 into the station, largely so that the NRHS folks on that train (including John and Marge Fiorillo) can be assured of catching the NRHS train.

In the event, they needn't have worried. When the NRHS train finally pulls thrugh the through track at Union Station, into Track 19, it seems as though we might still depart on time. Al gets the Mobility impaued, including Gordon Zimmerman with a walker, on the train ahead of the encroaching crowd, allowing Chris and me to take good seats in the Super Dome (because we boarded at the trap behind it, and it was thus the first Dome we entered), but when the time comes to depart it transpires the the cab signals in the locomotive carefully selected by Union Pacific to provide such things (as well as look good on the front of the train) simply didn't work.  In the meant time, those of us up in the dome have a grandstand view of the Sunday morning parade of excursion boats on the adjacent Chicago River. One circuit-board exchange and two hours later, all is well and the train departs.


SD70ACe            UP 1995
P42                        Atk   40
Coach                      800989    Nokomis
Coach                      800761    Wenonah
Coach                      800799    Lake Pepin
Coach                       800957    Franklin Inn
Lounge                     800854    Braddock Inn
Lounge                     800655    NYC 38
Dome                       800124    Scenic View
Dome                       800862    Super Dome
Observation              800040    Cedar Rapids

Milwaukee West route description (to Tower A2)
Former C&NW route description

The train departs at 12:19 pm, as Amtrak Train 989, on the former Pennsylvania/Milwaukee trackage from the north side of Union Station, meeting an inbound Hiawatha at 12:27 pm, and then stopping from 12:28-29 at Tower A2 to get permission to cross through the interlocking onto the former C&NW line westward. Because we have departed so late, the bag lunch is served immediately. Sitting opposite me is Joseph Brosoc, a Chicago-area resident, and joining him for lunch is Don Crimmins, a member of the 261 crew who is here to take care of the four Friends of the 261 cars on this train. There are many interesting stories over the lunch period, some of which I comment on.

UP then shows its opinion of the presence of our train on its tracks, by stopping us for three minutes at Wolf Road for a train of reefers ahead, and then crossing us over to overtake that train  as soon as it gets far enough west. We then meet an eastbound loaded coal train at Glen Ellyn, and crawl through College Avenue due to work on a grade crossing. At Elburn (end of Metra service), I start taking detailed route description notes, as I will for the rest of the Convention. We meet an eastbound autoracks at MP 55, and UP 7821 east with an intermodal at MP 56, then cross over to the north track at MP 63, then trigger a dragging equipment detector at MP 64, and stop for six minutes to inspect and rectify a dangling airhose on Amtrak 40.

After meeting an eastbound UP manifest at Creston, we cross over again at Dement, and then meet an eastbound double-stack west of Rochelle, and then another eastbound double-stack at Ashton, crossing over again at NQ and meeting an eastbound loaded coal train there, and an eastbound manifest at Sterling. Between Sterling and Galt, there are several tracks full of former Southern Pacific diesel locomotives, still painted in SP colors. We cross over again at Galt, and then meet an eastbound UP manifest at Agnew, an eastbound concrete ties at Clarke, and an eastbound loaded coal train at West Clarke.

Approaching Clinton, we cross over the Mississippi River into Iowa (again, since we had been in Iowa on the eastbound Amtrak train on Saturday), in which we will remain for the next eight days. The train makes an eight minute stop in Clinton for a crew change. After meeting a coal train, we cross over at West Clinton, meeting an eastbound double-stack at Mechanicsville and an eastbound manifest at Mount Vernon. At 5:25 pm, we stop at Fairfax (MP 89.8), an then reverse onto the new 1.9 miles connector over to the CRANDIC yard.

At a specific point on this connector, the train stops, various crew vans converge for a job briefing, and then the UP and Amtrak locomotives disconnect from our west end, leaving us without HEP, and thus without air conditioning, and a CRANDIC locomotive (unidentified) connects to the east end and pulls us the rest of the way to Track 906 of the 900 area of the CRANDIC Smith-Dows Yard, where the train ties up and the CRANDIC locomotive disconnects.

Here, the passengers board school buses for the short trip over to the Clarion Hotel on the southwest side of Cedar Rapids (northeast of here), crossing over several rail lines, including the UP main we came in on, on the way. The bags come on a later bus. Chris gets the room keys, very quickly, and we drop our hand luggage in our ground floor room, and then go off to the nearby Taco Bell to eat. There are several restaurants, and several other hotels, congregated nearby on Southwest 33rd Street. When we get back, the bags have arrived, and we grab ours and head for the room, where we unpack what is necessary. We then go to the NRHS "help" room, where we collect a number of give-away magazines and chat with Eileen Weber and Bob Bitzer, as well as Dan Meyer, who's trying to set up the NRHS computers to have network connections. After awhile, we return to the room and go to bed.

Monday, June 18th, 2012

We have elected not to go on today's excursion, a bus trip to the kind of museum which we have previously been known to see all that we wanted to see in 45 minutes, and then had to find a place to sit for six hours awaiting the first bus back. We do get up in time for the endings of breakfast, purchase tickets for the full week's buffet dinners at the hotel, have lunch in the restaurant, with Barry Smith, and later the first of the buffet dinners when the buses get back.

The rest of the day we spend in our room, from which we can somewhat see the traffic on the adjacent UP main line. During the day, we observe a couple of westbound empty coal trains, a westbound manifest, an eastbound loaded coal train, westbound and eastbound double-stacks, a westbound autorack train and an eastbound grain train, as well as several others that I don't quite identify.

After dinner, we go to bed early, mindful of breakfast prior to the first bus at 6:30 am the following day.

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

I arise before 5:30 am, and get Chris up to go to the included breakfast. Returning to the room to grab the things we need for the day, we're outside by 6:15 am. Al Weber collects the "mobility impaired" people at the head of the line of people waiting to board buses, such that we, Gordon Zimmerman (with Ed Graham) and Rosemary find oursleves aboard the first purely passenger bus (the one ahead has crew members as well as passengers). The bus ahead leaves before 6:30 am, and we leave at 6:30 am, heading back to the train, which is where we had last seen it on Sunday, watered and having had the retention tanks pumped, with different locomotives providing propulsion and head-end power. These are former Amtrak F40s from Iowa Northern railroad, one of which has been rebuilt. Chris and I board at the trap for Scenic View, and turn left to go into that car rather than right to go into the Super Dome. We sit across from Bob & Diane Heavenrich.


2-10-2                IAIS 6988                                (from Rock Island to Yocum Connection)
F40PH                IANR 461
F40PH                IANR 678
Coach                      800989    Nokomis
Coach                      800761    Wenonah
Coach                      800799    Lake Pepin
Coach                       800957    Franklin Inn
Lounge                     800854    Braddock Inn
Lounge                     800655    NYC 38
Dome                       800124    Scenic View
Dome                       800862    Super Dome
Observation              800040    Cedar Rapids
ES44AC                 IAIS 513                                (from South Amana to Rock Island)

Iowa Interstate route descriptions

The train departs at 8:04 am, heading southwest, down a former Milwaukee Road line now owned by the CRANDIC and used by the Iowa Interstate to reach Cedar Rapids. Chris Guenzler is in this care, reporting for Trainweb.org. Also in this car is Jim Fetchero, representing Iowa Pacific, the car's owner. Jim is now employed by Iowa Pacific, and basically lives on one or other of their passenger cars. At 9 am, the train takes the west leg of the wye at Yocum Connection, stopping next to the Iowa Interstate's new motive power shops at South Amana for two stops from 9:03 to 9;29, to add IAIS' Rock Island heritage unit, ES44AC 513 on the east end for the trip to Rock Island.

Departing from South Amana, we make a 13-minute stop at the east leg of the wye to throw the switch. From 10:03 to 10:10, we stop after the "rear" (round-end) truck of Cedar Rapids triggers the hot box detector at MP 248.2. The truck is found to be a little warm, but not enough to sideline the car. At Iowa City, there is an intermodal train in the siding. We spend 28 minutes doing a photo runby at West Liberty, and then continue to Terminal Junction, across the river in Rock Island, where we stop for two minutes, and then the Rock Island Yard, where it takes half an hour to add the steam locomotive on the west end of the train.

Then, we move westward to Lafayette Park in Deveport, stopping at 1:24 pm, where we have a catered box lunch in a park with insufficient seating. Chris and I find a seat next to Joe Maloney, for a good chat, and then chat with Gary Kazin as we walk back to lineside for the photo runbys with the steam locomotive. We depart westward at 2:28 pm. We meet an eastbound Iowa Interstate manifest at Northstar, stop at Iowa City for 21 minutes to dump the trash, and stop for ten minutes at the east switch of the wye to remove 6988. During this leg of the trip, Henry Posner II walks through the train, introducing himself and conversing briefly with many people. Taking the east leg of the wye at 5:56 pm, the train makes an eight-minute stop along the way and arrives in the yard at 6:57 pm.

The concern for the "mobility impaired" is lacking as we board the school buses for the return to the hotel, but at the hotel I take our 'stuff' back to the room, while Chris heads, slowly, for the buffet. The latter is as good as the night before, as is the conversation. After dinner, we head for bed, anticipating another ridiculously early morning.

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

This morning plays out very much the same as Tuesday, except that the crew bus has gone by the time we get outside, and so all loads the "mobility impaired" into the real Bus 2. The train is in the same place as yesterday, but due to the days maneuvers, it is facing the other way around. That will be corrected when we get to Yocum Connection. Chris and I board at the same location, and take residence at the same table as before, with the same companions showing up in the succeeding minutes, this time with adjacent seats for Alex Mayes and Teresa Renner.


2-10-2                IAIS 6988                                (from South Amana to Newton)
F40PH                IANR 461
F40PH                IANR 678
Coach                      800989    Nokomis
Coach                      800761    Wenonah
Coach                      800799    Lake Pepin
Coach                      800957    Franklin Inn
Lounge                     800854    Braddock Inn
Lounge                     800655    NYC 38
Dome                       800124    Scenic View
Dome                       800862    Super Dome
Observation              800040    Cedar Rapids
GP38-2                  IAIS 714                            (from Cedar Rapids to South Amana)
GP38-2                  IAIS 712                            (from Newton to Cedar Rapids)                  

Today, the train starts at 7:52 am, with a stop further down the yard at 7:54 am. It takes the east leg of the wye at Yocum Connection, reversing at 8:50 am, and stopping at South Amana from 9 to 9:22 am to add 6988 at the west end and remove 714 from the east end. From 9:38 to 10:04, there is a photo runby at Marengo, and from 10:38 to 10:45, a stop at Brooklyn for a crew change. The hot box detector at MP 307.9 triggers on the same car and truck as the day beofre., and we stop for four minutes to examine it, the crew finding things only a little warm. (Interesting that the detector sees this, but not the steam locomotive!) We stop twice, for a total of eighteen minutes, as the east end of Newton yard (adding IAIS 712), before stopping at 12:25 pm adjacent to a park in Newton, across from the Newton depot.

Here, a catered bag lunch is served, again in a location with too little seating. Also, the available tables are all up by the coaches, making them effectively unavailable for those at the first-class end of the train. The train makes photo runs between 1:30 and 1:50 pm, before reloading and departing at 1:59 pm. A several minute stop is made adjacent to the locomotive shops at the east end of Newton Yard, to remove 6988, ending our steam haulage for the convention.

On the way back, the train is given a 90-degree heat warning, requiring lower maximum speeds, and has to stop for inspection after the same truck triggers the detector at MP 282.9. The train makes a 14-minute stop at South Amana to drop personnel off at the new shops, and then a short stop at the north switch of the wye, amounting to a toal of six minutes, with another momentary stop approaching Smith-Dows Yard before arrival at 5:10 pm. The bus return to the hotel goes smoothly, and again I take our 'stuff' back to the room while Chris heads for the buffet. The food this evening is particularly good, and we linger over conversation until it's time for our (early) bed.

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Today, we have to attend the Board Meeting, mid afternoon, meaning we can't take the major trip of this day (to Boone & Scenic Valley), and instead have settled for a bus trip north to the Hub City railroad Museum at Oelwein, IA, former location of the operating center and shops of the Chicago Great Western railroad. The bus takes I-380 north about half way to Waterloo, and then turns due north on a good country road, past Independence and into Oelwein. We're given full run of the museum, comprising various exhibits in the former freight house, a yard tower several stories high (with step access only), and several tracks with representative locomotives and freight cars, including CGW F-unit 116A, Omaha Road switcher 55, and an unidentified Alco switcher, CGW caboose 637RI caboose 17958, a coal hopper, and a C&NW boxcar. The shops have apparently been demolished in the past year. Chris and I don't go up into the yard tower.

Although the museum literally  meets the claim made on the convention ticker ordering site, I'm disappointed by what is actually present, since the expectations created by that description were of something much more representative of the "hub of the Chicago Great Western" (especially concerning the erstwhile shops at this location). I'm also disappointed by the small amount of appropriate merchandise on offer.

On the way back, we stop at the museum at Independence, located on the former Illinois Central line across Iowa, which is quite well done and includes IC 0-8-0 55. However, when Bob Murray, our bus host wants to give us until 1 pm to leave here, I point out that a 2 pm return to the hotel will not give those of us who have to attend the Board Meeting sufficient time to eat, since the hotel's restaurant witll be closed for lunch by then. He moves up the departure time sufficiently that we actually get back only five minutes after the restaurant closes, but leaving almost a full hour to patronize the Taco Bell/Pizza Hut, where we eat with Tony and Roberta again.

The Board Meeting in the later afternoon is almost routine, except for the moment when Sheila Dorr tries to speak to a motion and has to be ruled out of order since she's neither a board member nor an authorized alternate. Ultimately, I'm disappointed, but not particularly surprised, that at the last meeting of the current board, neither the Convention Policy that this board specifically requested be prepared, nor the failures to make progress on any of the new initiatives in the Strategic Plan, are discussed with the board.

Again, we eat the buffet for dinner, and then go to bed early, since Friday's excursion starts at the same early time as the other train trips.

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

The usual pattern of early awakening, included breakfast, and bus departure has us at the boarding point in Swisher before the train arrives. The most ardent photographers form a photo line for its arrival, while others are concerned about boarding the train when it stops. Several busloads of people are present before the train stops blocking the street crossing. Again, we ride in Scenic View, which is parked near to the street crossing. Although the coach part of the train is full (including taking over at least one of the lounge cars), since this is the most 'rare-mileage' excursion of the trip (we've seen several of the rare-mileage folks in the bus line, this morning), the dome doesn't seem much more crowded than usual.


F40PH                IANR 461
F40PH                IANR 678
Coach                      800989    Nokomis
Coach                      800761    Wenonah
Coach                      800799    Lake Pepin
Coach                      800957    Franklin Inn
Lounge                     800854    Braddock Inn
Lounge                     800655    NYC 38
Dome                       800124    Scenic View
Dome                       800862    Super Dome
Observation              800040    Cedar Rapids
"Calf"            CRANDIC 125
"Cow"           CRANDIC 122                  

CRANDIC route descriptions

This morning is overcast, and the temperature in Scenic View when we board shows how cold Jim Fetchero likes to keep the air conditioning in this car! The train starts out, at 7:52 am, by backing north, past the airport and then around the south leg of Corn Sweetener Wye, reaching MP 2.4 at 8:28 am, passing along the full extent of the ADM dry grind and wet mill plants, which a group of conventioneers had visited on Thursday morning. Bob Heavenrich, who had been on that trip, is taking pictures like mad as we pass, and it transpires that they weren't allowed to take pictures from within the plant!

The train then heads south at 8:32 am, slowly (maximum speed 15 mph), all the way to the University of Iowa in Iowa City. We do photo runbys at the former hospital site in Oakdale (now part of the university), from 10:07 to 10:42 am, then proceed into Iowa City, where we cross over the Iowa River onto the main university campus. A parked truck is blocking our way, so since the crew can change ends safely (we've cleared the bridge), we turn right here, between 11:14 and 11;29 am. Henry Posner tells us the CRANDIC had to remove parked railroad cars from this end of the line to permit us to get this far. The train returns to Second Street in Swisher, arriving at 1:10 pm. By the time the buses get us all back to the hotel, it's well after 1;30 pm, so the hotel restaurant is closed for lunch.

Chris and I walk, slowly (after I've taken the 'stuff' to our room and she's started on the way) over to the 'nearby' Perkins that a number of people have raved about. Several members of our group are here, and we're seated quite quickly. There a menu item for 'soup and half sandwich', with quite specific choices for the soups. We order this, with different soups. The waitress comes by to tell us there is none of the soup Chris has chosen, and then, later, to tell us it will be many minutes before the other soup is available. I ask her to send the manager by, and complain to the latter about having a menu choice specifying particular soups, and then not having either of them available (and not informing us of that when we ordered). The manager is very surprised to hear that neither soup is available, and tries to offer us sugary desserts in compensation. We settle for half off the menu price.

This has taken so long that by the time we're back at the hotel, the Annual Meeting has started. We elect not to go to it, having been to the Board Meeting the day before. Later, at the banquet, we sit with Mia Mather and Gary Kazin, but leave before the speeches start. (In the event, one of the speakers proves unavailable, anyway.)

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

The same routine with breakfast and the buses this morning gets us to an intersection at 2nd Street SW, just west of I-380, again before the train is there. Some people form a photo line, while others mill around, waiting for the next steps to happen. Eventually, the train shows up, with the first-class cars to the rear, requiring us to board off the uneven ground, not off the convenient street crossing near the head of the train. However, we have no trouble getting the usual place in the usual car. The train today has only the Iowa Northern F40s, one at each end of the train.


F40PH                IANR 461
Coach                      800989    Nokomis
Coach                      800761    Wenonah
Coach                      800799    Lake Pepin
Coach                      800957    Franklin Inn
Lounge                     800854    Braddock Inn
Lounge                     800655    NYC 38
Dome                       800124    Scenic View
Dome                       800862    Super Dome
Observation              800040    Cedar Rapids
F40PH                IANR 678

Iowa Northern route descriptions

The train departs the boarding location at the advertised 8:00 am, pulls across the Cedar River bridge on the CRANDIC, into central Cedar Rapids, and stops adjacent to a street fair to pick up several more people. Then it turns north onto a section of Union Pacific trackage, passing through downtown and then past Quaker Oats world headquarters (with the parking lot posted for "Pepsico") before reaching Iowa Northern trackage along the east bank of the Cedar River. There is a photo run at Shellsburg, from 9:02 to 9:38 am, and the train proceeds at a maximum speed of 30 mph to the Bryant Yard locomotive shops just south of Waterloo, reached at 11:39 am.

Here, we all get off and walk forward past the front of the train to a catered buffet lunch inside the shop building. The food is excellent, but again there are insufficient seats for all the passengers. Chris gets to sit down only because Wes Ross gets up and gives her his seat. (I discuss this later with Bart Jennings, who seems unconcerned, even though Bob Heavenrich describes it as a "lesson learned". It didn't seem to me to be 'learned'.) There is a small amount of time available for taking photographs of the cars parked at the shops before we reboard the train, departing at 12:57 pm. It will transpire later that we weren't in a hurry, since we have to stall for time so as not to get to the final stop a long time before the buses are available.

Our cars hosts today (and tomorrow) are Duane Durr, a board member from Fargo, ND, and someone named Gary from the Twin Cities. Neither seems to eager to volunteer to serve us, although they're quite responsive when actually asked. We learn in the course of the day that Duane owns a network of convenience stores in the Fargo area, for the operation of which he has a $4 million loan from a bank, and that the woman he brings to most board meetings lives in Florida and won't go near Fargo in the winter!

From 2:05 to 2:32 pm, we have photo runs at the Spring Creek bridge, adding a second run to consume some of the extra time. Bart has already ascertained that the buses cannot be summoned early, since the bus drivers will not be on duty in time to come early. There are several sections with 10 mph slow orders along the way, but they've already been accounted for in the timing. As we pass through downtown Cedar Rapids, a local points out several areas that still show the effects of the 2008 flood. We make another short stop adjacent to the street fair, for the same five people to get off, and get to the boarding point at 4:32 pm (against the schedule of 5 pm). The buses show up at 4:40 pm (against the schedule of 4:45 pm), so there isn't too much of a delay boarding them.

There's no hurry when we get back to the hotel, where Chris and I partake of the last night of the buffet and then go to bed.

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

The routine is slightly different, today. After breakfast, we board "luxury motor coaches" for the trip up to Cedar Falls (just north of Waterloo), where the train has moved overnight. We get there up I-380, US 20, and SR 58. Chris and I are on the first bus, along with the crew members, so we have to drop off the crew at the location where the train has been "hidden" for the night, before proceeding to the boarding area adjacent to the former depot in downtown Cedar Falls. We get to that location at 7:20 am. The permit for the train to block the street for boarding begins at 8:40 am, so we have to find somewhere to sit until the train pulls down, after the last bus has arrived at 8:20 am.

The consist is the same as on Saturday, with IANR 461 leading as the train pulls past the depot and onto the street running on 5th Street, where we board. Chris and I sit in our usual location. The train departs at 9 am, with 15 mph on the street running, and then 30 mph maximum speed on the more southerly section, with only 15 mph trackage further north. There are not photo runs along the way. Lunch is a package lunch served adjacent to a railroad museum (which some of us don't have time to visit) at Manly, forward of where the train is parked, so the first class passengers have the furthest to walk. A community building is open to provide additional seating, in air-conditioning, so Chris and I walk to it to eat our lunch.

By the time we're finished eating and are walking back, the train is pulling back in for the only photo run of the day, so we head directly towards where our car will stop, so as to reboard promptly (and not risk being left behind), thus missing the museum. The train departs at 2:04 pm, and with a couple of operational stops is back at Cedar Falls by 5:48 pm. The motor coach boarding goes well, and they have us back at the hotel by 7:15 pm. There's no buffet tonight, and the hotel restaurant is closed, so Chris and I eat dinner in the bar, which serves its purpose. then we pack and go to bed, since we must be up even earlier than usual in the morning.

Monday, June 25th, 2012

This morning, we have to get up at 5 am, since the first bus is at 6 am. We eat breakfast, take the luggage out to the luggage bus (a school bus with a large rear door for loading wheelchairs), and board the school bus to which we're directed. The train is back in Track 906 of the 900 area of Smith-Dows Yard, where we arrive about 6:10 am. We're allowed on board a little while later. There are no locomotives on this train, so no HEP as yet. At this time of day, the lack of air-conditioning doesn't matter. The Heavenriches are not on this train, but Alex and Teresa are. Mia also sits near us.


                  CRANDIC 132                            (in the CRANDIC yard only)
                  CRANDIC 136                            (in the CRANDIC yard only)
SD70M                 UP 4373                            (from the interchange point onwards)
SD70M                  UP 5038                            (from the interchange point onwards)
P42                        Atk   40                            (from the interchange point onwards)
Coach                      800989    Nokomis
Coach                      800761    Wenonah
Coach                      800799    Lake Pepin
Coach                      800957    Franklin Inn
Lounge                     800854    Braddock Inn
Lounge                     800655    NYC 38
Dome                       800124    Scenic View
Dome                       800862    Super Dome
Observation              800040    Cedar Rapids

The scanner suggests our mainline locomotives are still in the UP yard at Beverly (where we had seen them from the bus on the way over) at 7:30 am, our intended departure time. At 7:56 am, two CRANDIC locomotives couple onto the train, and over the next 25 minutes, shove us out to the same interchange point at which we had exchanged locomotives on the way in. At 8:29, the CRANDIC locomotives depart. The scanner suggests our mainline power is still out on the main line! At 8:45, our Friday locomotives pass by with a westbound coal train. At 8:53, our main line power passes on an adjacent track, and is coupled up by 9:06 am. It then shoves us west on the connector, stopping from 9:37 to 9:42 am before entering the main line. While we're entering the main line, UP 7710 heads east with a double stack.

From 9:50 to 9:55 am, we reverse on the main line at Franklin. This direction, we're Amtrak train 990. From 11:16 to 11:21, we stop at Clinton for a UP crew change. From 12:58 to 1:47 pm, we sit on the main east of DeKalb (Love's Road), waiting for a track gang ahead. At 1:01, a westbound UP double stack passes, and at 1:26 pm, a set of westbound UP light engines. Mia is starting to worry about her 6 pm flight from O'Hare. Jim Fetchero complains about a "scratch" on the side of this car, and both Bart Jennings and Greg Molloy are brought in to hear his complaint.

Once we get moving, there are six complete sets of work equipment (tie pullers, tie cranes, utility trucks, etc.) and new rail laying alongside the track, from MP 53 to MP 46.5, past which we go slowly. We then meet a westbound UP manifest at Elburn, a westbound empty ?? train at Geneva, a westbound UP autoracks at West Chicago, and a westbound Metra train (loco 168). At 2:34 pm, we slow at MP 21, and meet a westbound UP double-stack. We then cross over to the center track at Lombard, and stop at 2:41 pm. Bart comments that UP has been making the eastbound Zephyr detours wait here until after the outbound Metra rush. It transpires that we're waiting for an eastbound Metra (train 37) that starts out 20 minutes behind us. It passes at 3:12 pm, and we resume at 3:13 pm

At 3:16 pm, we meet westbound Metra train 52, loco 164, at Villa Park, then a westbound UP grain train at Oak Park, a westbound Metra at Kedzie, and UP 7768 on a double-stack emerging from Global 1 at California Avenue From 3:54 to 3:56 pm, we stop at Tower A2 before crossing to the ex-Milwaukee trackage, meet an outbound Metra on the Milwaukee at 4:01 pm, and stop in Chicago Union Station, on Track 19, at 4:07 pm, only 37 minutes late. Mia rushes off, already having her bags with her.

Chris and I walk forward to the front of the train, and reclaim our bags from those being unloaded from the front coach. A redcap comes by to take us and Rosemary out to the taxis, taking us by the baggage check area first to check various bags to various destinations (including our two). He then takes us out onto Jackson Street, at the south side of the main station building west of CAnal Street, and gets each of us a taxi. We're at the Holiday Inn in just a couple of minutes.

Later, we eat dinner at the hotel restaurant, and go to bed not particularly early.

The Journey West (6/26-29)

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

For the first time in over a week, we don't have the alarm clock set for an early hour this morning. In fact, it isn't set at all. Nonetheless, we get up early enough to eat the heavily discounted breakfast, and then sit around in the room for a couple of hours, before slowly making our way downstairs to check out and take a taxi over to Union Station. We check in with the staff at the Metropolitan Lounge, leaving most of our bags with the baggage guy, and then go to the food court area for a light lunch.

Back in the lounge, we encounter Chris Guenzler, who's heading for La Plata on Train 3 and slept 12 hours last night, and then Ken Brooks, who arrives very early for Train 30. Others will be going out today on Train 7, but most of them are riding on the private cars being returned to the Twin Cities, or traveling coach and thus not in the lounge. Train 5's conductor takes the tickets from Chris and me about 1 pm, and we ride out to the train with the redcaps at about 1:20 pm. Our room is in the second car from the rear, so I then have to walk the rest of the train to collect the consist. On the scanner, we hear that the train has to wait for the commissary to finish loading the diner and lounge, especially with ice. This train was into the platform well after the consists for Trains 21 and 3, so one or more of the cars may have been late substitutes.

Before 2 pm, our scheduled departure time, the radio says that we'll be waiting for Train 371, which apparently has been delayed somewhere on its inbound journey from Grand Rapids. That train is expected at 2:30 pm, and actually arrives at 2:43 pm. Long before it arrives, the passengers for Train 3, across the platform, are boarding, which results in considerable confusion when the passengers from Train 371 actually reach the platform and then can't tell which train is which. We eventually depart 56 minutes late, just ahead of Train 3.


P42                         56
P42                        176
Baggage                1164    (ex-1101, from ATSF 3651)
Dorm                   39019
Coach                  34117
Coach                  34066
Coach-Baggage    31017
Lounge                 33027
Diner                    38030
Sleeper                 32070    Alabama
Sleeper                 32043
Sleeper                 32082    Indiana  

Train 5, 6-26-2012




2:00 pm

2:56 pm

Naperville 2:34 3:33-36
Princeton 3:44 4:43-45
Galesburg 4:38 5:35-40
Burlington 5:25 6:23-28
Mount Pleasant 5;59 6;57-7:02
Ottumwa 6:53 7:45-59
Osceola 8:09 9:14-20
Creston                     CT 8:41 9:54-59
Fort Morgan             MT 5:05 am 6:48-50
Denver 7:15
Fraser 10:07 11:12-19
Granby 10>37 11;44-46
Glenwood Springs 1:53 pm 2:46-54 pm
Grand Junction 4:10 4:54-5:09
Green River 5:58 6:57
Helper 7:20 8:13-15
Provo                      MT 9:28 10:17-22
Reno                       PT 8:36 am 9:07-15 am
Truckee 9:37 10:08-22
Colfax 11:48 1:06-08 pm
Roseville 12:57 pm 2:20-22
Sacramento 2:13 2:43-51
Davis 2:44 3:07
Martinez 3:25 3:47-50
Richmond 3:59 4:16
Emeryville 4:10 4:27

The train stops almost immediately at 14th Street to load ice. By 3:15 pm, we're running slow behind a Dinky. At 3:17 pm, we meet an inbound Dinky at Stone Avenue, and one minute later, the inbound Southwest Chief, east of Highlands. At 3:23 pm, we cross over to the center track (Previously occupied by Train 4) at Hinsdale and overtake the Dinky at Westmont. We cross back for the Naperville stop, meeting an eastbound Dinky as we stop at Naperville. At 3:40 pm, we meet a BNSF freight on the center track, east of Eola, then cross over at Aurora, cross back at Earlville, cross over again at Zearing, meeting and eastbound BNSF manifest shortly thereafter, and meeting an eastbound BNSF coal train at Wyanet before crossing over at Buda.

We meet an eastbound BNSF train just west of Mt. Pleasant, cross over at Beckwith, and overtake a westbound empty coal train at Batavia and a westbound intermodal just east of Ottumwa. We have dinner reservations for 8:15 pm, which are called on time, and are done wth dinner between Osceola and Creston, going to bed shortly thereafter. We don't observe it, but during the night, we ride on the new 1-mile track through the new Lincoln, NE, station.

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

I'm awake before Akron, CO. The crew describes "unusual traffic patterns this morning", but as they are on the other side of the train, I can't see what they are. At 7:20 am, we meet an eastbound loaded coal train at Roggen, and approaching 8 am, make a momentary stop at UP crossing before beginning the traversal of the wye at 8:13 am, reversing the train prior to the Denver stop. The train is still, of course, using the temporary station at Denver. The dining car is very slow this morning, and after Steve (the car attendant) gets us a number, we're not called until after 9 am, and not done until almost 10 am.

The train departs Denver just after 9 am, and then makes a momentary stop at 23rd Street, and a five minute stop at Prospect Junction. There is a loaded coal train at C&S Junction, and an empty coal train at Tolland. We take siding at Flat for an eastbound loaded coal train with UP 5692 on the point. The sky has been cloudy/smoky (forest fires) all morning, and there is a short sharp rain storm at Azure. Not surprisingly, lunch isn't called until 1 pm, and we go directly into the diner at that point. We meet Train 6 at Dell, during lunch, meet UP 6830 with an eastbound loaded coal train at Dotsero, and are done with lunch about halfway along Glenwood Canyon. Rain falls again in Glenwood Springs.

There is a forest fire with smoke blowing north over Price River Canyon. We have 8:30 pm dinner reservations. About 8:15 comes the announcement that 8:30 reservations will be delayed, and indeed it is after 9:10 pm before we're called into the diner. There is sufficient light to see until west of Soldier Summit, but not really by the loops at Gillooly. There's more smoke in the sky on the west side of the Wasatch. For the first time, we see the new waiting facilities at Provo, and are in bed (just) before the train stops in Salt Lake City.

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

I wake up somewhere around the Humboldt Sink. Breakfast is into assigning numbers before we're even up (or PA silence is broken at 7 am). Shortly after 7 am, the steward demands that passengers come get a number of they won't get breakfast. Some 20 minutes later, Chris heads off for the diner, and gets a number.

At 7:51 am, the train takes the siding at Thisbe, and stops from 7:56 to 8:37 am; out crew gives a rollby (both sides) to UP 6951 east as he goes by (8:01-08 am) and the same for UP 7621 east (8:20-23 am), since a detector ahead is giving everyone an integrity failure. Without the promise of the rollby, each train would have had to stop and inspect on the single track, making us much later. The train meets UP 7859 east at Patrick, at 8:46 am, and UP 8643 east at Victor, at 8:55 am. We stop momentarily at Sparks to drop off deadhead UP conductors, then crosses over at Sutro to be on the platform track for the Reno stop. Chris and I get called for breakfast well west of Reno (almost 10 am), and are not done until after Truckee and halfway around Coldstream Canyon.

The restart from Truckee is very slow, and I suspect (from the diner) that we're running at Restricted Speed (stop in half the distance the engineer can see). It transpires that a maintenance crew near Shed 47 has pulled a signal wire, and all the Intermediate Signals down to Truckee are red. We can pass a red Intermediate ("Restricted Proceed") at Restricted Speed, and do so for the several signals up Coldstream Canyon and around onto the shelf above Donner Lake. The signal at Shed 47 is an absolute (for the change from double track to single track), so we must get the Dispatcher's permission to flag it, after stopping, but otherwise the result is the same. The signal at Eder is clear, permitting us to resume track speed.

At 11:27 am, we meet UP 7694 east, a double-stack, at Soda Springs. This is the first opposing train we've seen since east of Sparks. At 12:45 pm, we meet Train 6 just east of the Long Valley Trestle. Lunch is called a bit earlier than yesterday, and we choose not to go immediately. Our number is called somewhere around Auburn, and we're done just after Roseville. The steward is complaining that he won't be done with lunch by Sacramento. This is apparently because his crew is short downstairs in the kitchen, and will have the same problem going east the next three days. He goes over passenger numbers with the conductor, and shows a full train for this crew going east, with 282 people out of Denver and 286 out of Omaha.

The rest of the trip in is uneventful, meeting the usual Capitol Corridor trains at the usual places. There's enough passing in the schedule that two hours late at Colfax is transformed into 38 minutes late at Sacramento and 17 minutes late at Emeryville. At the latter, we drag the bags over to the Hyatt House, and later walk down to PF Chang's for dinner. We go to bed on returning from dinner, to make it easier to get up for the included breakfast in plenty of time to walk over to the station for Train 712 at 7:40 am.

Friday, June 29th, 2012

We're up in time to have breakfast when the restaurant opens. Afterwards, we finish packing, check out, and walk over to the station. I collect some of the consist of Train 712 as it pulls in from Jack London Square, but the rest will have to wait for later on the trip. Even so, all the tables in the car we board have been taken by the time we get upstairs. It transires that this is largely the same consist we came up with, sixteen days ago.


Cab Car                8309    Mt. San Jacinto
Coach                    8028    Mad River
Cafe                      8804    Napa Valley
Coach                    8014    Colorado River
Coach                   34943    Oak Grove
F59PH                    2002

Train 712, 6-29-2012




7:40 am

7:42 am

Richmond 7:49 7:50-52
Martinez 8:19 8:18-20
Antioch 8:39 8:42
Stockton 9:17 9:22-27
Modesto 9:45 9:53-55
Denair 9:58 10:08
Merced 10:31 10:34-42
Madera 10:59 11:16-20
Fresno 11:35 11:45-49
Hanford 12:09 pm 12:23-27 pm
Corcoran 12:25 12:44-46
Wasco 12:58 1:20
Bakersfield 1:41 1:47

We meet a Capitol Corridor train before reaching Richmond, Train 11 at Pinole, and another Capitol at Crockett, then a UP peddler at Ozol. On the BNSF, we stop for Train 711 at MP 1104, for nine minutes, a delay we never make up. When people eget up to depart at Stockton, Chris grabs a vacated table.

There's another UP peddler waiting to go north at Stockton Tower, as we cross in front of it. We meet a westbound BNSF manifest at Stockton Tower, overtake an eastbound at Riverbank (after following it for several miles), overtake a southbound intermodal with UPS trailers at Denair, take siding at Fluhr for Train 701 (without stopping), meet a westbound BNSF double-stack at Calwa, meet Train 713 at Boles, another BNSF double-stack at Hanford, and another at Angiola, overtake an eastbound grain train, meet Train 715 at Una, and finally meet a BNSF manifest at Jastro.

Our checked bags have not yet reached Bakersfield (off yesterday's train at Sacramento!), so we will have to meet the bus tomorrow to get them. Today's bus gets us home by 3 pm.