An E8 visits Wisconsin
Feb. 19, 2012

Photos by Dave Ingles

Sunday, Feb. 19, was a day that drew hundreds of fans trackside on CP's C&M (Chicago & Milwaukee) Sub between Chicago Union Station and Sturtevant, Wis., for a special passenger train, operated by the new Iowa Pacific Holdings subsidiary, The Pullman Sleeping Car Company. The train, operated under Amtrak auspices, consisted of E8 6070, a blunt-end C&O lounge observation now in IC colors and named Adirondack Club, two full-length ex-Santa Fe dome lounges, now named Scenic View and Sky View, full diner ex-NYC 448, and round-end lounge observation car Eaton, an ex-IC parlor car and soon to regain IC colors and the new name Pontchartrain Club. The E8 is one of several owned by Iowa Pacific, but the only one painted in SP "Black Widow" colors and lettered for the former IPH subsidiary Arizona Eastern (AZER). The AZER was sold last year to one of the public short-line conglomerate holding companies, so the E8, carrying a number above SP's E9's and which hauled a tourist train on the AZER, an ex-SP branch, soon is to be repainted IC orange and brown and lettered, we presume, Iowa Pacific. This train was the same consist that ran Chicago-Indianapolis via Effingham and Newton, Ill., on the CN/IC and Indiana Rail Road, recently for the Railroad Passenger Car Association's annual meeting. On this February weekend, PSCC sponsored Friday and Saturday night dinner trains, and then this Sunday brunch train, to Sturtevant, where the old "Southwestern Division" wye of the Milwaukee Road still exists, enabling trains and locomotives to reverse direction.

We left home in Waukesha about 10:45, and once south of Milwaukee on I-94, cut over to the CP to photograph Amtrak Hiawatha #333 at 6 1/2-mile Road, at 11:27 with P42 151, 6 Horizon cars, and NPCU ("F40 control cab") 90221.

The sky was 60% clouds and 40% sun, but in case of sun, we drove to the only place in the immediate area that the railroad angles away from due north-south, in Pleasant Prairie, Wis., by the big Wisconsin Electric power plant, where County Hwy H crosses the track. Only two other vehicles were there when we arrived at noon to set up, and we got a "practice shot" when CP #281 came by at 12:06 p.m. behind 8827/8509 with 87 cars. About this time, the passenger special, running as Amtrak 985, was crossing over from track 1 to track 2 at Wadsworth, Ill., to enable easier access to the Sturtevant wye. Carol shot #281 and the E8's train from the van, while I shot slides from behind the van.

Our friend Craig Willett, the only Milwaukee-based Amtrak engineer qualified on the old 24RL brake system the E8 has, was away from his regular Empire Builder assignment and at the throttle for all 3 special trains. We think he wore out that poor old horn on the 6070.

Not knowing what opportunities were ahead, Carol shot all the cars as they flashed by, too.

We took I-94 back to Sturtevant, by which time the special was backing around the north leg of the wye; we parked near the south leg and walked toward the west switch. The Sturtevant Patrol's bedraggled old Soo caboose made for a nice composition with the special. That's TRAINS' Matt Van Hattem squatted down for the photo angle.

We took our cue from Matt!

Blatantly violating CP's no trespassing sign not only are fans in the background, but here in front of me, Classic Trains' Rob McGonigal and Trains' Jim Wrinn; that's Matt Van Hattem at left.

No one was shooing folks away, so we walked on west for a clearer view as the special began to come around the south leg of the wye.

Mr. Willett is at the throttle.

CP GP38 4611, an ex-MILW GP40, is the Patrol's engine, in the background.

Sky View has recently been made Amtrak-compatible.

The Eaton was built as a parlor car for IC's Chicago-St. Louis "Daylight."

The special parked here at 1:15 in a photo-friendly spot to await the passage of Amtrak Hiawatha #336, which he'd follow back to Chicago.

The E8 is ex-C&NW/Metra; C&NW removed the nose numberboards, so these are painted on!

I deliberately passed up the shot "everyone else" went for at Sturtevant—Amtrak #336 passing the static E8 on the wye—in favor of trying for similar across-the-field action shots 3 miles south at County Hwy A, to depict a "today's train" and a "yesteryear's train."  In doing so, I missed an easy action shot of the special, now Amtrak 986, as it backed up to the mainline crossover north of the wye to leave town gaining speed on track 2. Here is Hiawatha #336 at County A at 1:30 p.m., same trainset we shot as #333.

These days, Hiawathas usually have 4 Horizon coaches in the middle with an Amfleet coach at each end. There is a snow problem with the space between the locomotive and a Horizon coach, I'm told, hence the Amfleets, although this set had only one Amfleet.

The perfect composition at 79 mph was pure luck!

The WEPCO Pleasant Prairie power plant's smoke plumes added to the day's pictures.

Which train would you rather ride, today's or yesteryear's? Time here: 1:44.

Since the weather had cleared off, we stuck around for more C&M action. Down at Bain, as is customary over on the UP Milwaukee Sub connection to the Farm Sub branch into Kenosha (the old C&NW "KD Line"), two sets of unit coal train power were laying over, and the middle unit of the easterly trio was a pure, un-patched SP unit, #319. Can't be many of these left!

After grabbing a to-go lunch at White Castle at Hwy. 50 and I-94, south of Sturtevant, we went over to set up at the Bain Station Road crossing for Amtrak #8, running early out of Milwaukee. Just after I saw his headlight to the north I heard noise from the south, and here came CP #277, "the DM&E train," with CITX 3078/DM&E 6076/DM&E 6359 (the "South Dakota commemorative unit," with a fading Mt. Rushmore decal on the flanks). Time is 2:44.

Amtrak #8's engines (170/54/177) met #277's about at the signal visible.

By the time #8 cleared, #277 was also by, as it had only 47 cars. A deadheading Superliner up front gave the Builder 11 cars this day.

After the meet, we went to Somers, where there is a high-wide detector, for Amtrak #7, engines 3/155/177 and 10 cars at 3:11 p.m.

We had not seen the other Hiawatha set yet, and so went to Sturtevant wye, also the old passenger station site, to get him leaving the new station. Time is 3:31, with NPCU 90224, 6 cars, and P42 16 trailing. The old Klinkert House hotel and bar, at right, is being restored inside.

Finally I could get a clean shot, without people or bushes, of the parked Sturtevant Patrol.

After a potty stop at Culver's and across the street at the truck stop's O&H Bakery outlet store for a Kringle, we went back over to Franksville, as we knew CP #276 was out of Milwaukee. Presently he came by Kraut Road, at 4:11, with 108 cars behind IC&E 6431/DM&E 6095/HLCX 8096/NREX 2803. Note the four color schemes (DM&E/IC&E, CP, BNSF, UP).

It was only a short wait for Hiawatha #337, with the "first" trainset of the day, which allowed me to shoot the last 2 slide frames on the day's roll in my N90.

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