Midwest Railfan Trip Suggestions

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Sounds like your trip is going well so far Dave! Just wanted to let you know that the Ord Local is going to work North to Ord tomorrow from Grand Island and is going on duty at 0800. Obviously not really going to work for you but the good news is it should be coming back South on Friday if you would want to chase it for a little bit, I'll let you know for sure when I can. I'm also planning on heading to Crete in the morning and doing some railfanning along the BNSF Hastings Sub and possibly the branch to Beatrice if they are running the local tomorrow. I'm assuming you'll be a little farther West so good luck and hopefully the sun will come out for you for a little bit!

Thanks Joel. I appreciate the heads-up on the local. I might just bee-line to Grand Island/Gibbon tomorrow and spend my time on the Overland Route so that Friday morning I can perhaps check out that local. I remember following that line on GoogleEarth and it seems like there were a number of small bridges as well as some different customers along the way. I'll have to check it out online again.

Sidenote but these trains just keep coming in Emporia. Definitely no after-dark dry spell tonight. There are two blowing through town right now. I can't see them from my motel but I can hear them well.

I may be the only person reading this who is old enough to remember that old Trains article about the KCS derailments caused by placing helpers too close to the rear of the train.
haha i used to read those articles like a sponge. The KCS of today is a very different railroad than the KCS of the late 70's (but then again, I suppose that's true for all of them).

Sad news, the Ord Local is actually not running tomorrow so no luck there. :( If you are going to be around Columbus at 4 pm the NCRC Cedar Local goes on duty at Oconee (between Columbus and Monroe on State highway 22). If you are in the area earlier than that there is usually power running around Oconee and the Columbus Local runs into town, back to Oconee, and then switches out the train in the morning/early afternoon. No matter what I'm hoping you're having a good time and will have lots of pictures to show us! :)
Well, I'm nestled into my hotel room in CB tonight so thought I'd share an update of my trip. Pics will have to wait until I'm home and able to upload them. Hopefully some turn out. haha

Yesterday and today can best be characterized as "disappointing" in a few respects. First, the weather, particularly today, has been pretty lousy, with lots of clouds and rain making picture taking or even scenery enjoyment somewhat muted. Still, I am used to rain so no big deal. lol I also have overbooked myself this trip. I'll probably end up putting 1400 miles on my rental car - that's a lot of driving. I'll remember that next time.

Yesterday morning I left Emporia and drove west to Florence before heading north to Herington. At Herington I was going to continue north to Junction City. At the last minute, I decided to head west through Hope and eventually Abilene. Unfortunately, I turned down a gravel road that soon turned into deep mud due to heavy rains. It took me a few moments to realize what was going on, but by then it was too late. Try as I might, I couldn't get any traction. I tried breaking off tree branches and stuffing them under my tires but that didn't work. Ultimately a guy had to come down from the Abilene area with a tractor to pull me out enough to drive away. That really got things off track and cost me a pretty penney unfortunately. However, once I got going the sun finally came out and I felt a lot better. I ran north to Enterpise, then to Abilene and Salina, before turning north to Fairmont NE (with a stop in Concordia to hose me and my car off), then west to Hastings, then north to Grand Island. Once checked into my hotal I ran west in the dark to Gibbon before calling it a night.

Today I got up early to find a dreary cloudy rainy day. I packed up and drove west to Kearney and spent a little time there before beginning my journey east to Council Bluffs. The first train heading out to Kearney was I believe a Frac Sand train with an Olympic Torth unit as second in consist. At Gibbon a WB empty coal train was just rolling onto the Overland Route with an ex-SOO SD60 as the second unit. I had planned to hang out near the flyover in Grand Island but the UP dried up and BNSF had a coal train parked on the bridge. So I continued east. I seemed to hit a real dead time for the UP, though down the line I found a Loram machine on Main 2 so that was obviously affecting things. In Central City I got a pic of a parked NCRC unit. I finally encountered an eastbound coal train which I had seen earlier. It had a patched SP unit as second in consist.

By the time I got to Fremont the sun had really started to come out and I was getting in a better mood. I enjoyed tootling around Fremont before deciding to head to Missouri Valley before Council Bluffs. I will say this: The Fremont to Missouri Valley segment of the UP is perhaps my favorite. I really loved the scenery through here as well as the overall feel of the area. I stopped at the Missouri River bridge and hung out for a while waiting for a train to come to no avail. As usually happens for me, I got in my car and drove less than 1/2 way up the side street before a stack train blasted by EB. As it turned out, I would catch this train at several spots as far east as Woodbine.

I turned back from Woodbine to Missouri Valley before heading south to Council Bluffs. A quick note was that at Missouri Valley that same coal train I'd seen in several spots earlier was just starting to pull onto the Overland Route from the Council Bluffs leg. There also looked to be a freight right behind it that I thought I also saw earlier near Grand Island. Would they have routed these Fremont-Omaha/CB-Missouri Valley, or was there another thing at play here?

Heading south I happened upon a very short CN freight heading towards Council Bluffs. I got off the freeway at Honey Creek and got a quick video of it. It had an SD70ACe and I think 9 cars, including 3 empty flats. Nice to see it. Now I'm at my hotel. My room looks right out onto the BNSF Bayard line. Doubt I'll see anything pass by in the next 12 hours but that's ok. I'm not expecting it.

Tomorrow I'll spend the day around teh area but I don't have any specific plan. After visiting KC, This area seems a bit easier to get around in so I hope to be able to check a few boxes off my list before flying out in the evening.

Until then. :)

Well, at 4am I was awoken by the blast of a horn so grabbed my phone and ran to the window. The inbound BNSF Bayard local was slowly rolling by so I grabbed a cellphone video of it. It's was very dark out so the video will be of lousy quality. The train had the 517/2572 (warbonnet and blue/yellow) for power and was doing maybe 10 mph. It took over six minutes ofr the lengthy train to roll by, during which time my right arm started hurting from the weird stance I had taken to hold the camera. Oh well, you do what you gotta do. lol Lots of what I believe were soy bean hoppers, plus some tanks and other cars.

Then it was back to bed. :)

Changing planes in DEN so will just share a quick close on today. I woke up to a beautiful day, which was awesome. Turns out my hotel was just over the hill from the IAIS yard so I started there with a few pics. THere were a couple of GE's and a few other units but not much else going on. I then drove around the CB side of the river before crossing over and hanging out for a bit at the Amtrak station. Several trains went by there, then I headed back and checked out of my hotel. Decided to hit up Cracker Barrel for breakfast then head north to Missouri Valley. I took the Old Lincoln Highway (?) and ended up pacing alongside a UP freight, getting a few pics of it crossing under the CNIC.

In Missouri Valley a WB stacker was just pulling in for a quick crew change. I waited for it to depart and took a few pics. It had a UP EMD, UP GE, KCS grey GE, and SP patch GE - nice consist! I then drove east out to the Persia cutoff and parked just south of the UP crossing to get some shots. A few went by, but I also heard a horn that seemed to the southwest of me. Not wanting to miss a possible CNIC move I ran over there to find the approaching EB train with a single SD70ACe leading a healthier string of cars. I shot some video of it here then decided to chase it east. Of course, Uncle Pete sent a freight east before I could get back across the crossing so I was delayed in getting the chase on. I ended up arriving in Woodbine at the same time as the CN but there was no way to shoot it here. The UP ended up getting ahead of it at this point too. I drove east further, ultimately deciding to park in the Dow City cemetary. I waited there for a long time, shooting a WB UP, but I needed to catch my flight so decided to leave. Of course, 5 minutes down the road, just east of Dunlap, it came along so I grabbed some shots and then continued on my way.

I flew out of OMA on Southwest - what an easy airport to get through. I heard people complaining about the line at security. I just wanted to laugh and ask "Have you been to Seattle yet?" lol.

Omaha itself, as viewed from around the Amtrak depot, really reminded me a lot of Tacoma (for anyone who's been there). Just the feel and the blend of old and new. Nice city.

So, ended on a nice note the last 24 hours with much improved weather, lots of variety, and some nice successes. The only thing I didn't see were any UP heritage units (no big deal) or a moving IAIS freight. However, seeing the CN twice was great, as was catching the KCS south of Kansas City while there. I also appreciated the BNSF bringing the Bayard local by my room while I was there - bonus. :)

Ok, as soon as I can get pics downloaded somewhere and I can remember how to post them, I'll get them added to the thread. Thanks for all the input and suggestions - it really exceeded my expectations! If I've added too much commentary here, I apologize. It will hopefully help me remember things when I get home. haha

Great to hear you had a good time in spite of the Kansas mud. Today was a beautiful day and to see the CNIC twice was bonus. We did have a bunch more rain than usual. Also I feel the same about the airport. I don't know why anybody complains about it.
As I said, I'll have to upload some videos and share those on here as well. I'll see if I can do that today or another day, not sure.


You did a great job there Dave. That area east of Mo Valley is also one of my favorites. It has those hills in the background and the railroad meanders a bit along the Boyer River. Corn in the summer and fall and enough trees that the leaves will be pretty in a few weeks. Looks like a good trip. Tom
Thanks Tom.

The pic of the empty coal train curving around towards the crossing was I believe about 2 1/2 miles east of Arlington, Nebraska. I had to GoogleEarth it just now because I didn't take any notes.

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Forgot to post a picture (but will skip it since it's otherwise unnoteworthy) but I also saw an eastbound loaded coal drag that had 11 tank cars tacked on at the end after the dpu. I'd never seen that before and was wondering if this was a normal type of movement or just the UP's way of getting these cars where they were going?

Looks like a good trip!

There also looked to be a freight right behind it that I thought I also saw earlier near Grand Island. Would they have routed these Fremont-Omaha/CB-Missouri Valley, or was there another thing at play here?

Lower priority Eastbound Trains often get routed through Omaha. Westbounds mostly stick to Blair
After staring at the picture from east of Arlington I know where now. The last time I was there, there was no grading for the second track but they were digging and moving dirt west of where you were standing. It is very near the top of the hill known as Marshall. Named after the tree farm/nursery that was located there. There was a cut near the top too. I will have to go visit it again. Tom

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