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Train Festival 2011 Day 3 -- Excursion to Iowa City ~ July 23rd, 2011

by Elizabeth Guenzler

Today was the much-anticipated all-day steam excursion to Iowa City and beyond to the Homestead Wye. After breakfast at Denny's, we drove once again to the Train Festival grounds in Rock Island and queued up to board the train.

My ticket for today's trip. My assigned coach was North Star Rail 203, one of the Friends of 261 fleet of cars.

The excursion train led by Iowa Interstate QJ 2-10-2 6988.

The Rock Island locks as we started to cross the Mississippi River.

Crossing the Mississippi River as we head to Davenport and beyond.

The steam train rounding the curve in Davenport on a beautiful summer's morning.

Approaching a grade crossing near West Liberty.

Passing the famous Rock Island station in West Liberty, built in 1897. Two photo runbys would occur here on the return trip.

The Iowa countryside as we continued east.

There were several curves on this route that I took advantage of.

Looking to the front and rear of the train.

Whenever possible, I always walk through the train during an excursion. Since Mid-America Railcar Leasing was new to me, I took pictures of their sign and emblem on the doors of two of their coaches.

Iowa Interstate 2-10-2 6988 performed a blowdown before we reached Iowa City.

We stopped at the 1897 Rock Island station in Iowa City.

During the stop here, boxed lunches were loaded onto the train and distributed.

I was now on new mileage as we steamed to the Homestead wye.

A view to the rear of the train as we rounded the curve approaching the wye.

Starting on the wye.

Another blowdown occurred, much to my enjoyment.

The train on the large curve of the Homestead wye.

Stopped at the wye for some passengers to board.

The Iowa River during our trip back. We stopped at West Liberty and many people detrained for the runbys.

Some of the passengers at the Rock Island station.

Amtrak P42DC 66 in heritage livery during the reverse move.

Amtrak P42DC 156 in heritage livery.

The train reversing for the runby at West Liberty.

Ready for the runby.

The first photo runby.

The tank car and Amtrak P42DC 156.

Amtrak P42DC 66.

San Luis and Rio Grande full dome 501 "Nenana" (exx. Sierra Western 523, exxx. Great Western Tours - Eureka Southern, nee ATSF 511). PPCX 800124.

Some of the Friends of 261 passenger cars in the consist.

View of the West Liberty station and part of the train.

High Iron Travel's open-end observation/business car "Caritas" (ex. VIA 2095 "Churchill Falls", nee CN 2095 "Churchill Falls). PPCX 800045.

Milwaukee Road Skytop observation car "Cedar Rapids" MILW 186 at the rear of the train.

NSR 31 "Minnesota River (nee MILW sleeper 31). PPCX 800135.

NSR 68-seat coach 203 "Nokomis" (ex. Algoma Central 443, exx. Central of George 672, nee Central of Georgia 542). Built 1947.

NSR 68-seat coach 202 "Wenonah" (ex. Algoma Central 442, exx. Central of Georgia 671, nee Central of Georgia 541). Built 1947. PPCX 800261.

Reversing for the second runby.

A ground-level view of the Rock Island station between runbys.

The West Liberty sign.

The second photo runby.

A Rock Island wooden caboose on display here in West Liberty. It was built in 1913 as a boxcar and converted to a caboose in 1940.

One of the old crossing diamonds is on display. Everyone reboarded for the return trip.

Iowa Interstate 6988 leading the train back to Rock Island.

Never ignore the rear of the train!

Crossing the Cedar River as we near Davenport.

Entering Davenport.

Street running through Davenport. Between this and tomorrow's chase, I would have the best of both worlds - riding a steam train through the streets and photographing it. The excursion returned to Rock Island and we all detrained.

After the 6988 has been uncoupled, I had to take this photo of Amtrak P42DC 156, which was the first heritage unit I saw just a month before in Mukilteo, Washington. We then walked over to the Celebration Belle for the evening's boat ride, but that is another travelogue.

It had been a marvellous day with Iowa Interstate 2-10-2 6988 and everything that the train offered. An excellent penultimate day to Train Festival 2011.