The Iowa Interstate's Milan Branch splits off the mainline at Rock Island and works its way into Milan where it splits again. One half goes to the east to serve one industry while
the other half works its way to the west towards Andulusia. The Milan Branch is served by the day shift of the Rock Island SWitcher. RISW goes on-duty around 0800 Monday through Friday. Although the RISW
can go out onto the branch at any time, the branch is usually served during the late morning/early afternoon hours. Listen to IAIS channel 161.220 for an IAIS locomotive to proceed from 24th Street Rock
Island to 17th Street Rock Island. The RISW is the only IAIS train to use this portion of the "BNSF Industrial" with the others being the BNSF local and ICE local to access the Crescent Bridge. The RISW was
always operated with the IAIS' only SW1200, #250, but as of September 2003, any engine on the IAIS roster can be found working the switcher. The 250 has been relocated to Council Bluffs and it is uncertain
whether or not it will ever return. For now, here is a look at the industries you'll find on the Milan Branch.
The first stop on the Milan Branch is at Holcim, located at 2nd Ave; RI and at the foot of the Crescent Bridge. Holcim receives covered hoppers of dried cement for unloading and is
usually switched a few times a week. The next industry to be served is E&J Metals, a junk yard located of 24th Ave; RI. I'm not sure how often E&J gets switched, but they ship gondola loads of scrap for Ipsco
across the river in Montpelier, IA. At 37th Ave; RI, you'll find the Sara Lee Bakery. Sara Lee receives car loads of flour, at least one a week. Prior to crossing the Rock River, you'll see River Stone Group's
rail spur. This former cement mixing site hosts the stone that is mined out of the quarrey across the river and across from US Rte 67. The IAIS receives much of its ballast from the River Stone Group, so you'll
see IAIS company ballast cars on spot to receive ballast. The next stop is the Milan depot. The depot is located at 4th Street and 4th Ave in Milan. This is also where the branch splits. The depot still stands
and wears red and yellow paint, much like the way the Rock Island painted it when they were still in business. The depot is currently vacant, but used to host the "Creation Station" as evident by the "Creation
Station" signs adorning the property.
The east leg of the branch works its way across US Rte 67 to serve Roberts & Dybduhl, a lumber company. R&D receives cars loads of various lumber products on lumber cars and boxcars and
is generally switched a few times a week. This end of the branch used to work its way into the coal mines at Coal Valley and eventually all the way to Peoria, but the track was cut back in the 1950s. The spur
is still in place to the old Eagle Foods warehouse, but it now stands vacant.
The west leg of the branch is former Rock Island Southern trackage that worked its way through Andulusia to Monmouth. After passing under I-280 and across Andulusia Road (78th Ave), the
branch's first spur is for Interstate Chemical. Interstate Chemical receives tank cars and is switched a few times a week. The next spur is owned by Brandt Construction and is rarely ever used, although the switch
is still in place. Next up, you'll find the R&D Concrete spur nestled behind the Rock Island Fitness Center. R&D Concrete is now receiving carloads of sand for concrete block manufacture. Sister company Country Stone
also uses this spur and receives hopper loads of lava rock from Colorado for bagging prior to commercial sale. Country Stone seems to be more of a seasonal switch, but when cars come rolling in, the switcher is kept busy!
Next up is Miller Container. Miller receives an occasional load of rolled paper. The steel warehouse is located at the end of the branch. The steel warehouse receives coil steel cars and is switched a few times a week.
A day on the Milan Branch can bring a little or a lot of switching, so pay attention to the outbound RISW! I have witnessed the RISW go on the branch for only one industry while I've also
seen them go out with cars for just about every industry on the line. Just depends on the day!