Rock Island 630 & 652 Hauled Through Davenport, Iowa!

Two original passenger “E-units” which once led Rock Island streamliners are bound for a new home.

Both units ran to and from Peoria on the Peoria Rocket. The 630, resplendent in a “Golden Rocket” scheme applied for builer Electro Motive Division’s 50-anniversary in 1972, pulled a fantrip from Chicago to Peoria in September that year. A love-it-or-hate-it Bicentennial scheme was applied to 652 in 1976.

These units enjoyed stints at the Midland Railway out of Baldwin City, Kansas. No. 630 had been purchased from the Rock Island by a Kansas City museum in May 1979 and restored in 1988 to a livery similar to its original dress. No. 652 was preserved and then restored to its original paint scheme by the Midland museum in 1994. Both units were sold by the Midland Railway to Sabin’s Manly Junction Railroad Museum in 2009.

Slant-nose E-6A #630, built in 1941, and E-8A #652, built in 1952, are the property of Dan Sabin and have been cosmetically restored to wear an early 1960s-era simplification of the classic crimson-and-maroon livery worn by locomotives which powered the Rock Island’s famous Rocket fleet.

Sabin, president of the Iowa Northern Railway, had worked for the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad for a decade starting in 1968 as a student train order operator, eventually becoming the nation’s youngest dispatcher three years later at age 18. So his interest in the units requires no explanation.

Mid-America Railcar in Kansas City, Missouri repainted both 630 and 652 prior to shipment to Manly. I received word that Canadian Pacific would haul these units on a regular freight train (Kansas City to St. Paul No. 475) through the Quad Cities sometime on Monday, May 22. I wouldn’t get out of work until 3:00pm so the later the better.

Fortunately, 475 was later. I arrived the east side of Nahant Yard in Davenport, Iowa in time to capture it making a set out. Both 630 and 652 presented a splended appearance as they passed before my lens. The appearance of the Eldridge Branch local with two Deere & Company hydraulic excavator loads was icing on the cake!

I waited until evening in hopes of seeing 475’s departure north. Even  better, I caught counterpart 474 (St. Paul to Kansas City) while waiting in downtown Davenport.

Perhaps an hour later, 475 received permission to depart Nahant Yard. Scenes are at West Davenport and in downtown Davenport next to the Government Bridge.

– David P. Jordan

Sunday Train Action!

Iowa Interstate manifest PESI (Peoria IL to Silvis IL) rolls through Mossville, Illinois on May 21, 2017. A trio of GP38-2s 719, 712 and 715 have 111 cars. Tank car right behind the potash empties was an amines load (UN 2734), possibly from Mapleton, Illinois.

A Toledo Peoria & Western Railway eastbound rolls under US 24 at Cruger, Illinois then Eureka (whole train) on May 21, 2017. GP50 #5015 and SD40-3s #3443 and #3442 have 101 cars – 20 nitrogen fertilizer solution loads, a buffer and 80 ethanol loads.

– David P. Jordan

Temporary Delta Connection Frequency Reduction

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According to Delta Airlines’ online timetables, daily roundtrips between Peoria and Atlanta will be reduced from three to two for the period July 1 thru August 22.

The reasons for this are unclear. A shortage of equipment (use of 50-seat CRJ200s continues) or competition from American Eagle’s new Charlotte service are both possibilities.

Fortunately, it appears to be a temporary reduction.

– David P. Jordan

Empty Ethanol Train on the TP&W!

Got a heads up from more than one source that a TP&W westbound led by 3442-3443-5015 was making its way west through East Central Illinois Saturday afternoon.

I decided to intercept, and found the train waiting at Chenoa for the passage of a southbound Union Pacific intermodal train.

Train was untypically short, just 48 cars, including buffers at each end. Scenes are just west of Chenoa, at Gridley, between El Paso and Secor, just west of Secor, just east of Eureka, at Cruger, Washington and the Farmdale Trestle shortly before arriving the East Peoria Yard.

– David P. Jordan

An A-B-A Geep Set on BNSF’s Peoria Local?

Freight B units?

Friday evening, I caught BNSF Railway train M-PEIGAL (Manifest, Peoria IL to Galesburg IL) leaving East Peoria on May 5, 2017 with A-B-A geep set BNSF 2036, BNSF 334, and BNSF 2129 have 20 cars.

The “B” unit may seem odd. They don’t exist in large numbers anyway. The Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe purhased 23 GP60Bs for 1991 delivery. All have been re-lettered, re-painted and re-numbered by successor Burlington Northern Santa Fe (now simply “BNSF”). One of these, has been rebuilt into a standard cab unit.

I knew this A-B-A set arrived Thursday morning on counterpart M-GALPEI, but figured M-PEIGAL would leave late Friday under darkness. Turns out, I got lucky and the dispatcher gave the train permission to depart just as I drove passed the Tazewell & Peoria Railroad’s East Peoria Yard about 6:00 in the evening.

Note the Caterpillar D10T, blade and two D6T loads. Both Caterpillar and Komatsu are ramping up production due to increased demand, which is good news for the local economy, employment and the railroads.

Scenes are at TZPR’s Illinois River Bridge, Darst Street, the through truss bridge just south of Harmon Highway and at W. Farmington Road where a slow order is due to recent flooding.

– David P. Jordan

Flood-related Detours on the Union Pacific

I missed the military train this morning…

…but I did see this northbound manifest, which sort of made up for it.

Due to severe flooding in the St. Louis area, Union Pacific is detouring trains away from St. Louis, and the Peoria Subdivision is seeing a temporary surge in traffic.

Heading home early this evening, I had to wait on a slow-moving* freight at the Alta Road crossing. I chased it to Akron and shot video. UP 5655, UP 7980 and UP 7236 leading 95 cars.

Train symbol is AASNP or Autos, Alton & Southern to North Platte, NE. The “Auto” symbol is appropriate with 33 autoracks blocked on the train’s head end. Normally, this train departs the Alton & Southern’s Gateway Yard near East St. Louis and runs via St. Louis proper and Kansas City.

*Slow-orders of 10mph on some sections, 25mph on others due to bad crosstie conditions. 

– David P. Jordan

Conrail. East Peoria. 1995. (Part II)

Here’s a slideshow showing the last moving Conrail freight train I ever photographed.

I saw this on a sunny Monday morning, December 4, 1995. I noticed this train departing P&PU’s East Peoria Yard and promptly beat it to Farmdale Switch only to wait until it pulled eight cars from TP&W’s Industrial Spur.

When it finally began moving again, train PEHI, led by SD60M 5560, had 44 cars. After six photos, I probably ran out of film, which explains a mad dash to Farmdale Road to capture the whole in train in seven shots!

Outbound loads were typical for this train: wire rod (in gondolas) and fencing and/or nails (in boxcars) from Keystone Steel & Wire; alcohol (in tank cars) and distillers grain (in covered hoppers) from Midwest Grain Products of Illinois; and carbon dioxide gas (in tank cars) from BOC. Numerous gondolas were likely scrap metal empties while the hoppers were metallurgical coal (unloaded at Keokuk, Iowa) or coke (unloaded at Keystone Steel & Wire) empties.

I probably saw a Conrail train (from a distance) while at the U. S. Air Force Museum at Dayton, Ohio in July 1997. For a decade after the Conrail Transaction (June 1, 1999) a pair of Conrail blue units were common power for Norfolk Southern’s D49, and later D46, local turns to East Peoria. On October 31, 2015, I rode a Conrail Shared Assets Organization (CSAO) passenger special out of Newark, New Jersey behind Bennett Levin’s Pennsylvania RR-painted E-8As with then-president Ron Batory onboard. But December 4, 1995 was the last time I’d photograph an actual moving Conrail freight train.

– David P. Jordan

PIA Posts March Record!

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Peoria Int’l Airport posted an all-time passenger record in March 2017.

This as expected, since March is ski season, and Spring Break for college students. According to a press release from April 13, 61,199 passengers were handled last month. This figure not only beat previous March tallies, but the airport’s all-time record of 61,156 passengers in a single month, July 2015.

New service by American Eagle to Charlotte and that carrier’s deployment of larger jets to Dallas/Ft. Worth are also cited for the record traffic. For the year, business is up 8,250 passengers,or 5.5 percent, over 2016. If the trend continues, 2017 should be another record year.

– David P. Jordan