Saturday, August 9, 2008

Iowa Trip, Part 1

Tuesday morning found me southbound with a destination of Ames for a work-related event. Since I knew that the UP main passes through town, I left with the intention of doing everything I could to shoehorn some railfanning into the time I had to spend in Iowa.

Of course work comes first and the only chances I had were early mornings and one evening, but big yellow came through for me with some action, and it turned out that a former co-worker was also at this event and familiar with the area, so I had an expert guide for a bit of the time I was there. That evening will be covered in another post, while this post will include observations and photos from a couple of brief mornings I spent in Ames.

On Wednesday morning, I headed uptown and found a spot where Duff Ave. crossed the double track main. Slight curves both east and west of here promised interesting photo angles and there was a public parking lot along the tracks.

I only had about half an hour trackside, but just before I had to leave a headlight popped up to the east. I knew it would be a backlit shot but I decided since I was in Iowa I was going to see what I could do with it. The tracks pass through a wooded area right next to downtown and I was looking right down the throat as I shot this photo.

I believe this was a train of empty CWEX gons. One thing I noticed as he approached the crossing was that this is a whistle-free zone, and the horns mounted on the crossing guards were not very loud when you were out of the street right of way. I did learn later that they were loud in the right of way though.

I was so intrigued by the train that I wasn't ready for the DPU when it passed by, so no nicely-lit shot of the rear of the train. I filed this away for future reference.

That was it for the morning half hour, but on Friday morning I decided to stake this location out once more. After a brief wait I heard an eastbound approaching and set up to catch him as he rounded the curve to the west. It was another CWEX train, this time loads headed for a powerplant.

Before this train even showed up, I had spotted another headlight far to the east, and since I couldn't see the eastbound, I didn't know who I would get a shot at or which train was on which track. Turns out they were running "backwards" to my mind, with the eastbound on the north track. You can see this on my next photo, which catches the DPU on the coal loads as it passes around the curve to the east while a westbound grain train occupies the south track.

Obviously I missed the lead power on the grain train, but it seems like everything I saw had at least one unit on the rear, and I remembered my mistake from the previous day. I was ready when the DPU on the grainer passed and shot him as he sped away from me.

That's all there is for morning shots, as I needed to get back to meetings. I was pretty happy with catching at least one train each morning, and while I will always be a BNSF fan if for no other reason than geography, it was fun to see some Armour Yellow for a change.

Soon I will have the photos from my evening trip ready, including some shots of the Kate Shelley High Bridge and around the Boone area. Until then,

Jim, out.


Jason said...

It isnt really "backwards". CNW ATC system ran on the left side instead of the right, Only recently were trains able to run on either main across the state.

eeo5477 said...

Nice shots! I live in Ames and am very familiar with the locations you were at. My Dad was born and raised in New York Mills, and even worked a couple of summers for Northern Pacific on a tie gang, so I am somewhat familiar with your neck of the woods as well. If you ever want any advice on railfanning Iowa, I would be more than happy to help out.

Jim said...

Thanks for the comments. It is a great area to fan, and I hope to get back in the future with more time to spend trackside.