|NRHS Inbound Train; Geneva, Ill.; June 17, 2012|
As it got later and later, we got antsier and antsier. Then suddenly the train popped out from under the intersection and we got our shot (above). We then hopped in the car and drove about 70 miles on the interstate at speeds that challenged the speed limit, then popped into the old coaling tower at Nelson, Ill., beating the train there by mere minutes. Had the train not encountered an equipment defect that needed to be checked near Rochelle, we might not have beat it to Nelson.
|NRHS Inbound Train; Nelson, Ill.; June 17, 2012|
|Midwest Central; Mount Pleasant, Iowa; June 18, 2012|
|Midwest Electric Railway; June 18, 2012|
The star of the Midwest Central is Surry, Sussex & Southampton 2-6-0 No. 9 (above), built by Baldwin in 1891 for the Virginia short line. The locomotive now runs on the mile-and-a-quarter loop around the Threshers' grounds, and there are a lot of scenic props along the line for photography, including a small village of vintage buildings.
The Midwest Electric Railway operates a 2.5-mile loop around the RV parking lot and uses an eclectic mix of Iowa streetcars and cars from Chicagoland (a mighty fine heavyweight interurban from the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin) and around the world (one car each from Italy and Brazil are on the roster). Iowa cars include a Southern Iowa Railway express car and a Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern "safety car" (photo above) built by Perley Thomas in 1930 that originally operated in Knoxville, Tenn.
Tuesday's trip from Cedar Rapids headed south to Homestead, then eastward on Iowa Interstate to Davenport, Iowa, and across the Mississippi to Rock Island, Ill. Iowa Northern provided a pair of diesels for the initial leg of the trip (we'll see them in a few more minutes) but at Iowa City the IAIS added its Rock Island heritage unit, ES44AC No. 513. We chased along, but made sure we were in position for the prime shot, passing the former Rock Island depot at West Liberty, Iowa. (Thus we had a Rock Island heritage unit on IAIS's ex-Rock Island main line, passing a Rock Island depot on the way to -- ummmm -- Rock Island.)
|Iowa Interstate; West Liberty, Iowa; June 19, 2012|
|Iowa Interstate; Davenport, Iowa; June 19, 2012|
|Iowa Interstate; Homestead, Iowa; June 19, 2012|
|Iowa Intetrstate; June 19, 2012|
Wednesday's schedule had the train leaving Cedar Rapids and heading south to Homestead once again, but this time the train would go west on the old Rock Island, bound for Newton, Iowa, behind the 6988. Since the light would be bad in both directions for photography, we decided to do regular service railroading (and a visit to some Lincoln Highway historic sites). Thursday saw buses heading to Boone, Iowa, for a visit to the Boone & Scenic Valley, but I had NRHS business to attend to (I'm on the Board of Directors), I had to miss that trip.
|CRANDIC; June 22, 2012|
Friday's trip covered the rare mileage of the Cedar Rapids & Iowa City (CRANDIC) between its namesake towns. The trip originated at Swisher, just south of Cedar Rapids, with Iowa Northern F40PHR No. 461 and F40PH No. 678 (in a Rock Island tribute paint scheme) leading the train north on a roller coaster profile (left). The train proceeded through the sprawling Archer Daniels Midland plant in Cedar Rapids before reversing direction, now with CRANDIC MP15DC No. 122 leading slug No. 125. Heading south, the train passed the Eastern Iowa Airport (below). The trip paused at Oakdale for a photo runby (lower photo) where trees formed a frame or you could shoot in an open field. After arriving in Iowa City, just barely crossing the Iowa River, the train reversed direction and the two Iowa Northern diesels led the train back to Swisher.
|Cedar Rapids & Iowa City; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; June 22, 2012|
|Cedar Rapids & Iowa City; Oakdale, Iowa; June 22, 2012|
Saturday's trip operated on the Iowa Northern from Cedar Rapids to Waterloo, with a stop at the Iowa Northern's shop at the destination. Since the weather was marginal on this day, I opted to spend the day on board, enjoying the ride in a deluxe coach. The trip had IANR's two F40s for power, with No. 461 on the north end and No. 678 on the south end. The configuration was the same for Sunday's trip, which originated in Cedar Falls (not Cedar Rapids) and went to Manly. I enjoyed the ride in Skytop lounge Cedar Rapids (appropriate for this convention) on the northbound trip, then chased the southbound trip back. Has had been the practice for most of the week, we were on ex-Rock Island trackage and photo opportunities included getting the Rock Island heritage unit passing decommissioned Rock Island signals near Nora Springs.
|Iowa Northern; Nora Springs, Iowa; June 24, 2012|
As the day wore on, the sun swung around allowing for "going away" shots of the southbound 461 on the north end of the train. The horses at Shell Rock seemed unfazed by the passage of the passenger train and the four photographers trying to figure out how to shoot them and the train in the same frame.
|Iowa Northern; Shell Rock, Iowa; June 24, 2012|
Arrival in Cedar Falls and the bus return to Cedar Rapids brought an official end to the Convention. There was, however, an outbound train back to Chicago for attendees who had come in on the inbound train a week earlier. This time there was no Chicago & North Western heritage unit leading -- UP simply pulled a regular (and not quite clean) locomotive from the freight pool. We set up for one shot just across the Mississippi River in Morrison, Ill., and then let the train speed away. We would work our way across Illinois at a much slower pace.
|Union Pacific; Morrison, Ill.; June 25, 2012|
While in Iowa, there was plenty to see away from the NRHS Convention. We'll recap those highlights, plus head eastward, in the next installment.