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Hot spots, operations, tips, and more for railfanning within Missouri.

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This pages is used to show where some of the best locations in SEMO are for railfanning. If you want to see a high volume of trains, Poplar Bluff and Dexter are two of the best places with upwards of 50 trains a day.

Note: The ongoing recession has dramtically affected the number of trains through these places. You might see a significantly lower number of trains on some days, while others may seem fairly close to the normal totals.

Poplar Bluff: In downtown Poplar Bluff you will find the 1928 ex-Frisco depot, which is the Mo-Ark Regional Railroad Museum, as well as the 1910 St. Louis Iron Mountain & Southern Railway. The Frisco depot replaced the one destroyed in the 1927 tornado, and the SLIM depot was the original depot for Poplar Bluff. The depot became property of the Missouri Pacific in 1917, which then became Union Pacific in 1982. The depot was donated to a private committee in 1998 that will restore the depot back to its former glory, it is still served by the Amtrak Texas Eagle North and Southbound Trains #21 and 22 each day.

The bridge is a highway overpass over the yard throat offering a unique vantage point of yard operations. The yard is 14 tracks wide at the largest spot.

There are plenty of places under the floodlight tower on a public parking lot, which is a safe accessible location to watch, it is well lit after dark and the lights shine on the trains which makes even some night photos possible! The train frequency here is about 40-60 per day depending on the season, traffic congestion, track work, and service disruptions.

Scanner Frequencies:

UP Hoxie Sub. - Charleston Jct. to Junland: 161.550 (AAR Channel 96)
Junland to Jax: 160.875 (AAR Channel 51) Jax to N. Little Rock: 160.740 (AAR Channel 42)
UP De Soto Sub. - Iron Mountain Jct. to 4th Street: 161.475 (AAR Channel 91)

Dexter: This map is to show some of the best spots in Dexter, there are several good viewing crossings here. The depot has a parking lot on the north side of the tracks and there are about 5 crossings in about a quarter of a mile so there are many horn blasts. There is a highway overpass that is not a great to set up and shoot, but it offers a good drive by look from above the Old Cotton Belt tracks which are now UP on Highway 114.

There is an ex-Mo-Pac railroad bridge over Highway 25 that joins the MP to the old SSW, now all UP. No Amtrak Trains service Dexter. About 60 to 100 trains per day pass through Dexter.

Scanner Frequencies:

UP Chester Sub. - Valley Jct. to Charleston Jct.: 161.550 (AAR Channel 96)
UP Jonesboro Sub. - Dexter Jct. to Pine Bluff Yard: 160.320 (AAR Channel 14)
UP Hoxie Sub. - Charleston Jct. to Junland: 161.550 (AAR Channel 96)
Junland to Jax: 160.875 (AAR Channel 51) Jax to N. Little Rock: 160.740 (AAR Channel 42)
UP Sikeston Sub. - Dexter Jct. to End of Track: 160.320 (AAR Channel 14)

North Dexter: The 4 lane highway 60 crosses the 2 track ex-MP/SSW mainline. The parking lot is really the former site of the new crew depot. The crew depot was built there in 1998. Local government and citizens ended up forcing UP to move it about 1 mile north in 2000. This is one location that requires some directions. Do not follow the small gravel road along the rails, this is RR property, and it is not appriciated when you drive this without permission, just use the following directions. On U.S. 60 1 mile east of the highway over railroad overpass, turn north on Stoddard County Road 531. Go 1 mile north until you come to T-Intersection. To your right is a paved highway, to the left, you see County Road 570, which is gravel. From there follow 570 west to a right turn, where the road becomes CR 527. Follow that and you will drive right up to the crew depot, remember not to trespass on UPRR property and don't be in the way of the many crew vans that enter and leave this busy crew change point. The CR 527 Crossing just to the north offers a good vantage point. The north side of the tracks is a good spot for night photos when southbound trains stop there in the dark for a crew change.

Scanner Frequencies:

UP Chester Sub. - Valley Jct. to Charleston Jct.: 161.550 (AAR Channel 96)
UP Jonesboro Sub. - Dexter Jct. to Pine Bluff Yard: 160.320 (AAR Channel 14)
UP Hoxie Sub. - Charleston Jct. to Junland: 161.550 (AAR Channel 96)
Junland to Jax: 160.875 (AAR Channel 51) Jax to N. Little Rock: 160.740 (AAR Channel 42)
UP Sikeston Sub. - Dexter Jct. to End of Track: 160.320 (AAR Channel 14)

Sikeston: This is the home of one of the only set of diamonds in the area. The Mo-Pac and the SLSF (Frisco) used to cross here. It is still home to the old Missouri Pacific depot that now houses a museum with history and railroad items from the region. A BNSF coal train dumps a trainload of coal 3-5 times a week at the Sikeston Municipal Power Station, and early in the morning you can often witness the unloading process from afar. The grain elevator is served by UP and they have their very own GE 44 tonner switcher! On UP there are only 3 trains per week. On the BNSF there is about 15-25 per day including the coal. Amtrak does not service Sikeston.

Scanner Frequencies:

UP Sikeston Sub. - Dexter Jct. to End of Track: 160.320 (AAR Channel 14)
BNSF River Sub. - St. Louis to Memphis: 161.385 (AAR Channel 85)

Scott City (Illmo): This town used to have a huge railroading past, there was a beanery that survived due to the railroads, they even hung crew's meals on mail racks where they picked them up at speed just as they would mail! Even a part of the town was named by the railroad (Illmo) for Illinois/Missouri. There was once a large yard that now has 3 or 4 tracks, and the beanery is gone. Now, it's just a wide spot in the (rail)road. There are several crossings with parking and a view (of the tracks). There is the Interstate overpass to hide under for those rain showers (or severe thunderstoms and tornadoes, keep track of your weather forecasts and keep an eye to the sky on days that severe weather is possible) and the hot sun in the summer. East about 2 miles is the huge Thebes Bridge that crosses the Mississippi River. The SEMO Port Railroad also serves Scott City, as well as Motive Rail, both shortlines. About 80-100 trains a day go through on the UP and 1-4 on Motive Rail and SEMO Port Railroad. Amtrak does not service Scott City.

Scanner Frequencies:

UP Chester Sub. - Valley Jct. to Charleston Jct.: 161.550 (AAR Channel 96)

Chaffee and Rockview: Chaffee is a railroad town, there are things all over named for the Frisco Railroad. Such as, Frisco's Bar, Frisco Park, Frisco Avenue, just to name a few. Chaffee is a crew change point on the BNSF between St. Louis and Memphis. As you can see on this map, the diamonds are located directly under the highway bridge at Rockview, a smaller town about a mile north of Chaffee. You can take surface streets to get down by the UP/BNSF Diamonds, park on the street and it's a short walk from there, remember, stay off company property, or at least far enough clear of the tracks as not to bother train crews. Always ask permission first if you encounter a railroad employee. The crew change point isn't hard to find, it's a pinkish building in downtown Chaffee. The UP line just up north of town is busier than the BNSF though. About 80-100 trains pass through on the UP line, and on the BNSF line there is about 5-15. Thanks to Ron Wolfe for a little help on this location.

Scanner Frequencies:

UP Chester Sub. - Valley Jct. to Charleston Jct.: 161.550 (AAR Channel 96)
BNSF River Sub. - St. Louis to Memphis: 161.385 (AAR Channel 85)

Between Poplar Bluff and Ives on Highways B and 51, you can pace trains easily. However, the track speed is 60, which is 5 mph over the highway speed limit, which is 55. On Highway 25 between Dexter and Bernie, you can pace trains very easily, and the tracks speed is 70, which is 10 over the highway speed limit of 60.

Scanner Frequencies:

UP Chester Sub. - Valley Jct. to Charleston Jct.: 161.550 (AAR Channel 96)
UP Jonesboro Sub. - Dexter Jct. to Pine Bluff Yard: 160.320 (AAR Channel 14)

All text, photos, and descriptions 2004-2009, Zachary Pumphery - SEMO Rails