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CNW Historical Society "Interstate Rocket" 5/16/2009

by Chris Guenzler

I woke up early at 5:30 AM and after getting dressed headed over to near the Holiday Inn. I stopped to gas up my rental car and got a Maple Bar. I then parked in the Holiday Inn Parking Lot and waited out of the wind for the buses to arrive. They sure did, School buses. I boarded the first one for the trip to the Rock Island station in downtown Des Moines.

Today's trip is across the old Rock Island now Iowa Interstate. After the Rock Island went bankrupt, the CNW operated it for a short time. We will travel west from Des Moines to Atlantic which will be all new mileage for me. The buses dropped us off and I started taking my pictures for this trip.

Our train out in front of the Des Moines Rock Island Station.

Des Moines Rock Island Station. We all then boarded the train and I took a seat in the same ex Montreal Commuter Coach 819 that I rode on the Flood Relief Trips last year. The train consisted of Iowa Interstate Engine 721, Coaches RRDX 820, 837, 819 and 838, Abraham Lincoln 101 and Hawkeye 100. At Atlantic the Engine 710 was added to our east end to pull us back to Des Moines.

They were having a Farmers Market in Des Moines this Saturday.

The view from the train of the Rock Island Des Moines Station.

At 8:20 AM our train left Des Moines.

Two views of downtown Des Moines.

The Raccoon River.

The recent connection to the former Milwaukee Road branch for Des Moines to Woodward Junction. Today the Iowa Interstate operates out to Beisser Lumber just south of Grimes.

Out at Valley Junction this former Burlington Caboose is displayed near the Rock Island Depot now preserved as a store.

The main street of Valley Junction which really is West Des Moines.

This was the site of the old Rock Island large roundhouse and shop complex at West Des Moines.

There are several large cement plants at West Des Moines.

Raccoon River Park.

Once we went under Interstate 35/80, we started our trek out into the Iowa Countryside.

The 6,030 foot siding at Booneville.

This farm caught my eye.

We next crossed the Raccoon River.

Van Meter, Iowa was the boyhood home of Baseball Hall of Fame Pitcher Bob Feller who played for the Cleveland Indians. The town has the Bob Feller Museum.

Two views of the Raccoon River.

De Soto, Iowa has this ramp to load box cars with bricks.

Earlham, Iowa which is the boyhood home of Actor John Wayne, who's dad ran a drug store here.

Our route crossed Interstate 80 west of Gerdau, Iowa.

Dexter, Iowa.

The Rock Island Station at Stuart, Iowa.

Main Street Stuart.

The new Hawkeye Renewable Ethanol Plant at East Menlo, Iowa.

Menlo, Iowa.

An interesting lake as we climb towards the M&M Divide at Adair, Iowa. M&M is the Mississippi and Missouri River Divide where the water flows to one river or the other.

A creek we crossed on the way to Casey.

Casey, Iowa. The train passed through Adair and just west of town was where the James Younger Gang robbed the first train in America west of the Mississippi River on July 21, 1873. The gang carried out its first train robbery, derailing a locomotive of the Rock Island Railroad near Adair, Iowa. Engineer John Rafferty died in the crash. The outlaws took $2,337 from the express safe in the baggage car, having narrowly missed a transcontinental express shipment of a large amount of cash.

There were wind generators on all of the hills west of Adair.

I have always likes red barns.

Anita, Iowa.

The local grain elevator in Wiota, Iowa which uses the old Rock Island Depot. The train headed west the last few miles to Atlantic where we all detrained for lunch.

The Rock Island Station in Atlantic, Iowa.

Our train at rest at Atlantic.

Our return motive power Iowa Interstate 710.

Iowa Interstate Jordan Spreader.

The train performed a Photo Runby at Atlantic.

Our train then backed into the station.

Engine 721 then cut off and would stay here.

More views of the Rock Island Atlantic Depot.

With only three bathrooms on the train, these bathrooms were in high demand during our stop at Atlantic.

The Iowa Interstate 710 is now on the point of our train for the trip back to Des Moines. I reboarded the train and waited for our 12:45 PM departure back to Des Moines.

The Rock Island Station in Wiota.

The water tower at Anita.

The Hawkeye Renewable Ethanol Plant at East Menlo.

A former Rock Island Phone Box.

Milepost 400 just west of Stuart.

Former Rock Island Block Signals.

The grain elevator at Stuart.

The Rock Island Station at Stuart.

One of the creeks that we crossed on this trip.

Two views of the lake in Raccoon River Park. The train from here made its way back to Des Moines where we all detrained. Special thanks to the Chicago Northwestern Historical Society and Iowa Interstate Chief Transportation Officer Mick Burkart for arranging our trip today. The school buses hadn't arrived yet so we waited but soon they all came into view. I boarded the first bus back to the Holiday Inn with our bus host pointing out points of interest and some of Des Moines history along the way. Once back at the Holiday Inn I said my good byes before walking to my rental car.

Once I was in my car I headed back to Interstate 35 for the trip back to Kansas City. I stopped at Osceola at a Walmart for a memory card reader and I went to Arby's for a Roast Beef sandwich. From there I drove south to the Best Western Airport Inn & Suites/KCI North where I put the pictures into my CNW Historical Society Convention Kate Shelley High Bridge Story. Once that was done, I called it a night.

Heading Home 5/17/2009

The morning started with a continental breakfast at the hotel then I uploaded all the pictures for the story so they would be on line when I got home. After I gave the keys back I gassed up the rental car before I took it back. I took the shuttle back to the Kansas City Airport. The Northwest/Delta Gates have one line for security for the six gates they use at this end of Terminal B. That line took about ten minutes. At Gate 59 I was seated for about twenty minutes when the gate agent called my name. It turned out they had oversold this plane and needed my seat. They said I could be on the 12:10 PM Plane for MSP and then would put me on the flight to LAX First Class which would get me back ten minutes sooner than flying home via Memphis. I said that would be OK and I was told not to board the flight to Memphis. All the passengers boarded the flight and I was then called and told to board the flight to Memphis. Flight NW 2847 was only about an hour in length and soon I was in Tennessee. I had some ice cream and a pretzel before I boarded NW 177 for LAX. The almost four hour flight was interesting as I saw the Red River for a long way and later Clovis, New Mexico. I saw The Very Large Array (VLA) from the air. The plane arrived into LAX early and I after I exited the plane I went down to catch the Flyaway Bus, I had a chance to catch the 5:10 PM Surfliner home if all went right. It didn't! Bumper to bumper Sunday afternoon traffic into downtown Los Angeles killed that chance. I arrived at LAUPT at 5:16 PM but went up to the platform just in case the train was there. It wasn't. I bought an Amtrak ticket for home then went into the station to wait. When the conductor came out early we walked up the platform and waited for Surfliner 583 to arrive into LAUPT. Once they unloaded he let me board and I listened to music while playing Solitaire. Later Surfliner 590 was boarded just as the Southwest Chief was leaving on the next track over. The train left LAUPT at the new time of 7:15 PM for the quick trip to Santa Ana where I drove home. It had been a great trip to Des Moines for the CNW Historical Society Convention.