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IAIS 1st Sub

     The Iowa Interstate's First Sub runs between Bureau, IL and Iowa City, IA, with access into Chicago on CSXT and Metra trackage rights. This is the former Rock Island double track main to the west. Although only the old eastbound mainline remains today, the Rock Island's presence is clearly visible. The IAIS is track warrant controlled, so pay attention when the dispatcher is talking to a train or maintenance of way! I'll be covering the IAIS from Atkinson, IL west to Walcott, IA.

     Atkinson is located at MP 151.5. A passing siding is located here along with a spur to a grain elevator. Meets between CBBI and BICB are commonly held here in the early morning hours, usually around 0500. US Rte 6 parallels the Iowa Interstate east of town to Sheffield and makes for some nice pacing. Rte 6 west of town, however, peels off and does not follow the tracks very closely although you can still see them in the distance, so its not too hard to miss a train. Also at Atkinson is an old Rock Island signal bridge on the eastern edge of town. The signal heads themselves have been removed, but the poles still stand.

     Geneseo is located at MP 159.1. A local co-op is located on the east side of town and receives seasonal carloads of fertilizer. The old Rock Island depot still stands and is currently occupied by an insurance company. The depot has been added onto, but was done so to match the depot's design as best they could. The depot is painted red with white trim and makes for a nice prop if you crop out the white-picket fence between it and the tracks. Working west out Geneseo, the next town you'll see is Green River. US Rte 6 parallels the tracks at a distance and makes for a nice chase road. There are, however, several backroads that are closer to the tracks. There are several rural crossings between Geneseo and Green River and each provide nice views of the IAIS. At Green River, an old Rock Island tri-light signal still stands, although slightly altered. It acts as the distant signal for the crossing of the BNSF at Colona and is constantly lit yellow. The interesting part about the signal is that it was originally for eastbound movements, but with a few turns of the wrench, the signal head was rotated 180 degress and now warns westbounds of the distant junction.

     Colona is located at MP 169.7 and is where the BNSF's Barstow Sub crosses. A BNSF derailment on November 22, 2003 destroyed the diamond that used to be in place. A switch was installed near the old diamond to allow the IAIS access to their mainline east to Chicago. Since only one switch was initially installed, IAIS trains had to detour from 7th St; East Moline through Barstow and on to Colona. This left the portion of IAIS track west of Colona to Silvis unused until July 7, 2004 when the second switch was installed. The first trains to use the new connection ran on July 9, 2004 with the first daylight train, an extra BUNTXH-10, running on July 10, 2004. The IAIS no longer detours through Barstow. From what I have seen, IAIS trains must call up the BNSF dispatcher when they arrive at Colona and wait for a green signal before they can utilize the switches. The diamond interlocking used to be automatic, but I am uncertain whether or not trains are getting "stabbed" for long periods of time waiting for BNSF traffic to clear. It is necessary to get off of US Rte 6 and head into Colona on IL Rte 84 to stay near the IAIS mainline into Silvis. Just west of Colona is the IAIS' crossing of the Rock River. The open-deck bridge is visible from IL Rte 84 and provides a nice tele-photo shot.

     Another old Rock Island tri-light style signal still stands at Carbon Cliff and acts as a distant signal for eastbounds approaching Colona. The signal is constantly lit yellow. Carbon Cliff is where the Rock Island's Kelly (Silvis) Yard began. All that is left now is a grown over field. A little further west is Silvis. Silvis hosts a lumber company, passing siding, and NRE. Anchor Lumber is located on the south side of the tracks, near the east siding switch. National Railway Equipment Company occupies the former Rock Island diesel shop complex. NRE rebuilds, resells, and scraps various locomotives and even does contract work for the Iowa Interstate and Iowa, Chicago & Eastern. Numberous locomotives of all types sit on NRE's property and adds some color to the area. NRE's spur joins the mainline near the west siding switch and the IL Rte 84 crossing. To continue following the IAIS, continue on IL Rte 92 all the way through the QC.

     The Iowa Interstate, BNSF, and IC&E all come together at 7th Street East Moline and enjoy single track to Rock Island. This portion of the track is maintained by the BNSF while dispatched by the IAIS. All movements receive verbal permission from the IAIS DS prior to movement between 7th St East Moline and 17th St Rock Island. A portion of the old Rock Island mainline remains in-tact in Moline and acts as a 6066' siding. Midland Scrap and Midland Paper are located off the siding. Moline siding is also the most common place where the BNSF and IAIS interchange unit trains of feed and ethanol, each out of ADM in Cedar Rapids.

     The Iowa Interstate's Quad City yard is located in Rock Island, at MP 181.3. Rock Island yard consists of several yard tracks sandwiched between the IAIS mainline/siding to the south and BNSF mainline/siding to the north. The west end of the yard was reconfigured when the three roads consolidated to one track. All IAIS mainline trains generally pull in on the "BN Main" while the BNSF local utilizes the "Iowa Main". It is here at the west end of the yard, known as "Terminal Jct", where the IAIS mainline splits off from the Industrial tracks. The Milan Branch continues right along with the BNSF into downtown Rock Island where they split at 17th Street. Westbound freights will get their warrants to proceed from Rock Island to somewhere west, while the Rock Island Switcher will get permission from 24th St RI to 17th RI.

     Continuing west, the mainline crosses the Sylvan Slough and enters the Rock Island Arsenal, skirting its western edge. The Arsenal maintains a spur off the IAIS and has received military related shipments in the recent past. The IAIS crosses the Mississippi River on the historic Government Bridge (or Arsenal Bridge depending on who you talk to). This bridge is unique in that the railroad is suspended over vehicle traffic. The IAIS remains elevated through downtown Davenport as it slowly works its way out of the valley. At Taylor Street, the IAIS maintains the former "Golden State Route" which now acts as an interchange track to the IC&E. The tracks continue to climb out of the valley and crest the hill at Farnam. Phoenix Closures is located here and receives several tank cars a week. Turn onto US Rte 67 for the trip through Davenport to regain access to US Rte 6 to follow the tracks west of Davenport.

     On the western fringe of Davenport, the mainline goes over Wisconsin Ave. This overpass is unique as a small black Rock Island herald is painted onto the silver girder, making for a nice photo. A little further west, the mainline goes over I-280. Just west of I-280 is the start of the passing siding at Walcott. The west siding switch is located on the eastern edge of Walcott. Walcott also hosts a grain elevator and receives seasonal carloads of fertilizer.

First Subdivision





Atkinson 5,430
159.1 Geneseo  
169.7 Colona
BNSF X-ing
173.7 Silvis 5,930
178.9 Moline 6,680
181.3 Rock Island
Jct w/BNSF
2,810 & Yard
182.0 Miss. River 3,150
186.9 Farnam  
194.9 Walcott 6,600

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Revised: 5/28/07