Meet at Chillicothe

A meet between BNSF trains at Chillicothe is a common occurrence since their line is double tracked and quit busy. A meet between Iowa Interstate trains is a rare occurrence.

Last evening, I saw the latter.

The only place the Iowa Interstate can stage a meet in town is at the siding used for sand loading by Galena Road Gravel Co. it is not normally used as a pass, so this does not occur much.

The video shows IAIS 515 and its 72-car PESI (PEoria IL to SILvis IL) race past a 21-car SIPE (SIlvis IL to PEoria IL) behind IAIS 507. Then 507 pulls out with its short train.

– David P. Jordan

Autoracks on the Keokuk Junction Railway?

“Why would the Keokuk Junction Railway be hauling autoracks?”

“I dunno. Do they serve an auto assembly plant or distribution facility?”

“Not that I’m aware.”

“Thought I heard Nissan built cars in Canton.”

“Yeah…Canton, Mississippi!”

I think autoracks are sexy. Certainly, their presence on a freight train offers evidence the line on which they’re running is important to its owner. Motor vehicle traffic is a desirable commodity for railroads, which handle between 70 and 80 percent of finished vehicles shipped from assembly plants and import terminals to dealerships.

So when autoracks show up on a shortline like the Keokuk Junction Railway, it is a big deal. Obviously, the KJRY serves no auto assembly plants. A shift in rail carrier service from a Honda plant in Alabama is believed to be the reason these “Auto-Max” cars were brought to the KJRY for temporary storage.

The video posted above shows the KJRY local coming out of the Tazewell & Peoria Railroad’s East Peoria Yard with a 43-car train, including two “Auto-Max”-type articulated autoracks. These will be set out on the Hollis Pass, just south of the US 24 and Rt. 9 intersection.

– David P. Jordan

Three Iowa Interstate, One Canadian National (and Tazewell & Peoria in the mix)

I was suffering from a bad cold late last week, so with friends offering heads up on local train movements, it was good to have a reason to get out into the fresh air. First up, an 88-car Iowa Interstate freight (PESI, or PEoria IL to SIlvis IL) led by lone ES44AC 510 heading north out of town early Saturday afternoon. Scenes are at Mossville, Rome, Chillicothe and off Rt. 29 near the Hopewell exit.

Late in the afternoon, I encountered Canadian National Railway’s Peoria Local handling a 100-car gluten feed train into Pekin. A mix of video and stills begin at the “interurban”-like 5th Street crossing near South Pekin followed by IC Jct. and by the cemetery on the Tazewell & Peoria Railroad’s Pekin double track. An empty BNSF feed train met the CN a short time later. Final views show this train pulling through Pekin so it can back into Track 2 behind the CN.

Sunday morning, I caught Iowa Interstate hauling this Peoria-bound 105-car potash train past Detweiller Park. Later views show it being handed off to the Tazewell & Peoria Railroad. Scenes from the Bob Michel Bridge and on Sanger Street round out this feature.

Finally, I caught Iowa Interstate’s “Rock Island” heritage unit, ES44AC 513, pulling a 27-car train out of Peoria. A mix of video and stills show the train at Persimmon Street, by the CRI&P’s 1900 and 1967 depots, and finally by the Peoria Fire Academy off Rt. 29.

– David P. Jordan

“Ray LaHood International Terminal”

Peoria Int’l Airport’s newest addition will honor Ray LaHood.

LaHood, who served as U. S. Transportation Secretary in 2009-2013 and as U. S. Representative from the 18th District 1995-2008, will present April 12 for the dedication ceremony for the newly-completed Federal Inspections Service (FIS) facility. The PJStar posted this story today.

The $11 million, 22,000 sq. ft. facility will provide two new gates. The terminal was built to accommodate international flights to leisure destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico. Allegiant Air is believed to be planning such services from Peoria and many other cities.

Current U. S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta will also be present for the dedication.

– David P. Jordan

Another TP&W Eastbound Freight

TP&W mainline operations often occur at night, or in bad light (eastbounds in afternoons, etc.). So when I get the chance to chase in the daytime and good lighting, I jump, er, get in the car and intercept.

Late Sunday morning, TP&W GP50 5010 and SD40-2 3441 led 66 cars out of East Peoria. Scenes are at the US 24 overpass at Cruger, Eureka, Secor, El Paso and just west of Gridley.

The first 40 cars were grain empties that were spotted at Prairie Central Coop elevators in Meadows and Fairbury. The other 26 were mixed freight (loads and empties) bound for connections with Canadian National at Gilman, CSXT at Lafayette (Ind.) and for local customers.

– David P. Jordan

I’m Peeved! (The PJStar Does It Again)

The Peoria Journal Star has done it again. Specifically, Steve Tarter’s Sunday column.

Peoria used to be a rail center. Now we have only freight trains passing through.

Let’s review the facts. Peoria (and its surrounding suburbs) remains a rail center. Nine railroads serve the area, and six (*) of these operate within Peoria’s city limits.

*BNSF Railway
Canadian National Railway
Illinois & Midland Railroad
*Iowa Interstate Railroad
*Keokuk Junction Railway
Norfolk Southern Railway
*Tazewell & Peoria Railroad
*Toledo Peoria & Western Railway
*Union Pacific Railroad

Peoria-based Pioneer Railcorp owns sixteen shortlines. Major area employers such as Archer Daniels Midland, Caterpillar, Evonik Industries, Illinois Power Holdings, Keystone Steel & Wire, Komatsu, NRG Energy and Pacific Ethanol are regular rail users. Several railroad yards in East Peoria, Pekin and Peoria support local switching and train classification.

Most trains serving the Peoria-Pekin area originate and terminate here. That’s because there is a lot of business, even during the present downturn in mining and construction equipment sales. The Tazewell & Peoria RR operates probably six or seven weekday switch jobs (fewer on weekends) while sisters Illinois & Midland and TP&W run about four and three, respectively. Union Pacific also bases a weekday local at Peoria.

Many local industries handle their own switching using locomotives and/or trackmobiles: Komatsu, ADM/ADM Grain Co. (Peoria), Behr Iron & Metal, Alter Metal Recycling, Keystone Steel & Wire, Illinois Power Holdings (E. D. Edwards Station), Mosaic Crop Nutrition, Growmark, Caterpillar (East Peoria Building SS), ADM Grain Co. (Creve Coeur), CHS (Pekin Elevator), Illinois Corn Processing LLC, Pacific Ethanol, American Milling Co., NRG Energy (Powerton Station) and Grainland Cooperative.

Now read this again

Peoria used to be a rail center. Now we have only freight trains passing through.

Embarrassing, isn’t it?

– David P. Jordan

Almost Meet at Edelstein!

Other than those which are staged, capturing over-and-under meets between trains takes a little skill and a lot of luck.

And yet I’ve never been successful at it. Not that I haven’t tried. I’ve actually been close.

There are two places in the Peoria area where meets can be photographed from public areas. The most famous is the Farmdale Trestle. Located on the outskirts of East Peoria, it is where the Toledo Peoria & Western Railway’s mainline to Logansport, Indiana flies over Norfolk Southern Railway’s Bloomington District as it climbs Washington Hill.

The other is the BNSF Railway-Union Pacific grade-separated crossing just west of Edelstein. While not the classic over-and-under meet, I captured on Tuesday, March 15, what I’d call a “satisfactorily creative meet” between a westbound BNSF intermodal train and Union Pacific’s MPECL train. Tell me what you think.

– David P. Jordan

Gritty, Industrial Railroading, Part XVI

Rail service at Caterpillar’s Rubber Processing Facility in Peoria has been previously covered in this series, here, here and here. But catching it in action is not something one can plan. So when I do, I stick around until the end.

On Friday, afternoon, March 11, 2016, I caught Tazewell & Peoria RR 1351 crossing the river into Peoria to deliver a carbon black car to “Cat Tire” and to switch ADM’s Alcohol Tracks. The crew intended to switch “Cat Tire” first, but an undisclosed problem with the crossing at South Street caused them to leave the car on BNSF’s uptown branch near Chicago Street.

The rusty railheads on the branch indicated months of dormancy. As indicated by its rusty wheels, a silica covered hopper sitting near “Cat Tire” hasn’t turned a wheel in a while.

The carbon black car, btw, is identified as ECQX 4842. Shipped from Orion Engineered Carbons LLC in Borger, Texas, it contains 133,500 lbs. of Corax (R) N762, a carbon black pigment.

– David P. Jordan

NS-IAIS Coal Train

Norfolk Southern continues to deliver coal trains to the Iowa Interstate Railroad at East Peoria about once a week or so.

Since the Deer Run Mine near Hillsboro has been shut down indefinitely due to high carbon monoxide levels, it is assumed that either the Shay Mine near Carlinville is supplying all non-Powder River Basin coal to Archer Daniels Midland’s Cedar Rapids, Iowa co-generation plant, or a second mine elsewhere in Illinois, or perhaps Indiana, has taken up the slack.

Anyway, it is great to see this train moving along the IAIS Peoria Subdivision, which it did Thursday evening. And it had something different for a change: two IAIS units leading! Normally, only NS power runs through, but Thursday’s train had IAIS SD38-2 #152 and ES44AC #514 pulling three NS units and 92 cars.

Above video was taken at the Detweiller Park entrance.

– David P. Jordan