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Chicago Northwestern Historical Society The High Bridge "400"

by Chris Guenzler

I received an E-mail about the Chicago Northwestern Historical Society Convention to be held in Des Moines in mid May.

I waited for the announcement on their web site and signed up as a member of their Society. Days later, I received my first magazine which is fantastic. Next came the announcement and tickets were ordered. Next my fantastic Travel Agent Carole Walker of Belle Vista Travel got me my flights to Kansas City. These would change from LAX to Minneapolis to Kansas City and to LAX to MSP to KCY then home via Memphis to LAX. This was all caused by the Delta Northwest Merger. A Budget Rental was then reserved as were hotel rooms for the three nights of this trip. I worked at Jefferson Elementary being a CAT Test Proctor up to the day before I took this trip.

Metrolink 681 5/14/2009

I was up at 3:30 AM and after Breakfast I drove down to the Santa Ana Train Station and parked the GEO Metro in the lot then walked over to Track 1 where I bought my Metrolink Ticket for the trip to LAUPT.

Metrolink 681 came into Santa Ana and I boarded the Cab Car for Los Angeles. The train made good time and soon I arrived at LAUPT. There I bought a round trip on the Fly Away Shuttle that got me to LAX in twenty five minutes. Security took less than five minutes and I waited for my first flight of the day.

Northwest Flight 622 5/14/2009

They started boarding at 7:30 AM and people were still coming onto the plane at 8:10 AM our Departure Time. We pulled away from the gate at 8:29 AM. We finally took off at 8:42 AM and I listened to XM Radio Destinations and Hall of Fame Group Songs twice on the way to the Twin Cities. We arrived there on time and soon I made my way from Gate E 24 to Gate C 24. I stopped at A&W on the way there for a late lunch then waited for my flight to Kansas City.

Northwest Flight 1531 5/14/2009

The plane left late due to a late flight from Cedar Rapids. Once we had boarded we left the gate then sat on the Tarmac for nineteen minutes while they waited for their plane weight fraction formula to be given to our flight crew. Once we were in the air it was a quick flight and we arrived into Kansas City only a few minutes late. Another plane was waiting at the gate having problems so we sat for twenty five minutes before we left and the plane could move into the gate. Once off the gate I waited for the shuttle to the Rental Car Offices. There I got from Budget a Versa and loaded up the car for the trip to Des Moines.

The Drive to Des Moines 5/14/2009

I left the Kansas City Airport and made my way to Interstate 35 which I headed north on towards Des Moines. I stopped at the first Rest Area in Iowa then in Osceola at an Arby's for dinner. Road Construction delayed me but I arrived at the Holiday Inn in Des Moines where I picked up my train tickets for the next two days worth of trips. Now I drove back to the south side of Des Moines to the Best Western Airport Inn for my two nights stay. I learned on the way there the Anaheim Ducks lost on a non reviewable disputed goal in Ottawa. Why not? A seventh and deciding game should away have all of the goals reviewed so that no team ever gets short changed. Just my opinion. I called it a night with an early wake up call.


I was up early and after preparing for my day I left the Best Western for the Holiday Inn as the rain poured down. On the way the rain let up so I went to the Casey Gas Station for a Maple Bar. I then walked over to the buses but they didn't put a UP Release in my convention packet. I went back to the registration table where I got one and filled it out. I took it back to the bus and was allowed to board.

Chicago Northwestern Historical Society The High Bridge "400" 5/15/2009

The bus took us to Hull Avenue where we waited for all the buses to arrive. The gates went down and soon I saw something that fit right in to a CNW Historical Society Convention.

ADM switcher 1218 is an ex CNW unit. They then let us all get out of the bus so we could get pictures our train before departure.

The power was the last two unpatched CNW units.

Another view of our train for this morning.

CNW 8701.

CNW 8646

The train pulled up to the grade crossing where we would board.

The train was then ready for boarding. I took a table in the lower level of the Missouri River Eagle Dome/Diner Coach. This train had a consist of CNW 8701 and 8646 GE C44-9W, Power Car 207, Lounge City of San Francisco 9009, Coach Texas Eagle 5483, Dome/Coach Challenger 7015, Coach Katy Flyer 5468, Dome/Diner City of Portland 8008, Coach Portland Rose 5473, Dome/Diner Missouri River 7011 and Business Feather River 114.

The UP blocked the crossing with trucks as we boarded. The train left the Hull Avenue crossing in Des Moines for the Kate Shelley High Bridge. Why was that bridge named after that person? Lets go back to a night in July 1881 when the bridge was known as the Boone Viaduct. A thunderstorm flooded the Des Moines river bottom washing out a bridge over a small ravine east of the river near Moingona. A freight train derailed into the flooded waters killing the fireman who was never found but the engineer survived. A fifteen year old girl named Kate Shelly learned of the washout/ derailment and knew a passenger train would be nearing the washout. During the storm and heavy rains, with a lantern in her hand she crossed the old Des Moines River bridge flagging down the passenger train to a stop. In 1926 the high bridge was dedicated to the memory of Kate Shelley.

The train headed out of Des Moines out into the farming world of Iowa.

Me riding on the Chicago Northwestern Historical Society The High Bridge "400" train.

More of scenic Iowa.

View of the area where I was seating.

View out of the Missouri River Eagle Dome.

Passengers enjoying the Missouri River Eagle Dome.

At South Chicago Junction I started my new mileage of the trip.

West Chicago Junction.

South Kansas City Junction.

There is a lake in the middle of the wye at Kansas City Junction.

At West Kansas City Junction we entered the former Chicago Northwestern mainline that we headed west on.

More of exciting Iowa.

Downtown Ames.

CNW Station in Ames.

Traveling west across the flat countryside.

Soon we were in Boone and here is one of the town's water towers.

Cars of the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad.. After Boone I walked back into the Feather River to get some pictures of our train crossing the Kate Shelley High Bridge

Nearing it we passed beneath this farm road crossing.

A switch to tie in the future mainline across the new bridge being built there.

Concrete ties ready to be installed once the new bridge is done which should be on July 1st, 2009.

New signals at the east end of the new Kate Shelley Bridge. Ballast ready to be used

The start of the new bridge at the east end.

The Kate Shelley High Bridge is 155 miles east of Omaha and spans the Des Moines River Valley. Construction started in early 1899 with the bridge being opened on May 19th, 1901. It has a height of 190 feet and a length of 2685 feet. It has 22 steel formed towers resting on stone pier foundations. The spans range in length from 45 to 75 feet. Across the middle is a 300 foot connected deck truss. Now our train will head across the Kate Shelly High Bridge.

As we were crossing the Kate Shelley High Bridge, this UP eastbound freight also crossed the bridge.

The train has completed crossing the Kate Shelley High Bridge and at the west end they would let us off the train for a wonderful photo opportunity.

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