Trip to Arkansas, Sept. 2010
Heading South, Sept. 7-8

Photos by Dave Ingles

For the Sept. 10-11 weekend excursion on the Arkansas & Missouri, set up by Bart Jennings and run under the auspices of the Southern Appalachia Railroad Museum, plans were made to drive down with Rick Moser. In preparation for meeting him near Rochelle, in Lee, Ill., where I would leave my vehicle at friend Mike Schafer's house, I drove to Rochelle on Tuesday late afternoon, Sept. 7th. About the only action at Rochelle in my hour of daylight was this eastbound BNSF train, photographed from the newly completed road overpass south of town -- just south of I-88 -- where he was waiting for an undetermined reason to proceed on east to Steward, Lee, and greater Chicago. In the background is the city's fairly new ethanol plant, served by an extension of the locally owned Rochelle Railroad, which is operated under contract by Burlington Junction. The RRRR track is visible to the front of the lead BNSF unit; note the second unit is an ex-Santa Fe "Warbonnet" SD70, 8272.

BJ has this ex-CN Montreal-built switcher and smaller, ex-Army end- cab unit 3238, of indeterminate origin and builder, assigned to Rochelle. (See the section on the Web page for my March 2010 visit to Rochelle and BNSF's C&I line for a photo of the ex-Army 3238.) The units are kept in the far eastern end of the southeast industrial park, accessible by going east from the corner of Caron Road and Steam Plant Road; toward the east end is a grade crossing, with the units kept to the south, best photographed in the morning, as this shot shows, made on Wednesday morning.

The morning's primary goal, met first, was to photograph the local BNSF switcher, 2050, one of the former EMDX (ex-LLPX) leaser GP38's BNSF has had for years. Apparently it, and perhaps all, have been purchased, as this is renumbered (from the 700 or 800 series) and given BNSF markings. It's sort of a "new" BNSF scheme :-). I had seen and photographed it the evening before, with a bad light angle, so made sure to get him first in the morning before heading south to meet Rick Moser and transfer my belongings to his van.

Rick and I left Lee before 10 a.m., and the only rail action we saw en route down I-39 and I-55 was this coal train on the Illinois & Midland, going under the Interstate (and old Route 66) at Glenarm, so we pulled off on Illinois 104 and went over to Cimic, the switch where the former Chicago & Illinois Midland branches off the former Illinois Central -- hence the junction name. The train, Powder River Basin coal loads bound for the power plant a few miles to the east, near Kincaid and Pawnee along 104, is an I&M train, running on CN (IC) on trackage rights. Speed: 10 mph. The crewman, who might have been a CN pilot from Springfield, detrained and got into the truck; the switch for the I&M had already been aligned.

We're looking east on 104 toward the I-55 overpass as the lead unit crosses 104.

The DPU unit clears the switch. An interesting glitch on highway protection was evident, as the two sets of flashers, on both the I&M and CN, were activated. As the coal train crept by, I told the driver in the stopped Ameren (a utility) truck that the CN track was OK to cross, but despite having no gates in front of him, the driver would not move, which would violate the flashing red lights and could earn him a ticket. No police were in evidence, even in unmarked vehicles.

Finally the DPU cleared 104.

These historic photos were on the wall of the Collinsville Steak n Shake, our late-lunch stop. With the Waukesha and Wauwatosa stores now closed, SnS is once again a "treat" as the chain has left Wisconsin for the second time.

This billboard has always marked the "official entry" to St. Louis, the Gateway City, for me. Used to be, prominent lettering would advertise how many SnS outlets were in the metro area, but you have to look closely to see the "46" these days.

We met private car owner Tony Marchiando at his workplace to leave with him pillows for our ride on this sleeper, Cimarron River, later in September on special out of Pueblo, Colo.

Tony's workplace is adjacent to the Bi-State light-rail station at Grand Avenue, so Rick dropped me off there so I could ride the relatively recent Blue Line extension west and south to Shrewsbury, right near I-44, our highway out of the city. The extension traverses some ex-Rock Island and TRRA rights of way, and so to me "counts" as "mileage." Some photos from the ride follow.

This is west of the Forest Park area, where we are now off ex-Wabash right of way (the line to the airport) and on the Blue Line extension.

Now we have turned south and are following the ex-TRRA branch, which tied into the Frisco just west of Lindenwood Yard, still a BNSF facility

A short ways south of I-44, where the TRRA branch went onto the old Frisco, we are nearing the endpoint Shrewsbury terminal, one stop away.

Just out of the light-rail parking lot, this underpass on the BNSF ex- Frisco "River Line" to the south still has the identification on it from the 1960's, when I and Webmaster Mike Condren shot the remnant of the Sunnyland's St. Louis-Memphis section heading south one morning (May 1, 1965). That's the Frisco "coonskin" emblem at the right of the "Get it Going Frisco" slogan.

We tried to track down a BNSF local at St. Clair, Mo., but had no success; this caboose is on display at the depot site in the center of town. From here we went on to Rolla, Mo., for overnight. The photographer's suspicion that this is not an ex-Frisco car is confirmed by the Webmaster, who says the cupola side windows are wrong for Frisco and the trucks are wrong for that Frisco number. We speculate it's just an ex-BN car. It's the thoughts that count.

Thursday morning we encountered heavy rain around Springfield, Mo., the remnants of storm Hermine, and pulled off briefly in the city for a break. Turns out we were across the street from BNSF's offices, the Frisco's last pre-merger office building in the city. The rain was blowing sideways -- look at the flag. We are bound for Eureka Springs, Ark., to meet Mike Condren and ride the little tourist line tourist line Eureka Springs & North Arkansas, running on a remnant of the old Arkansas & Ozarks, formerly the Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway and later the Missouri & Arkansas.

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