Quad Cities Train Festival, 2011
Rock Island, Ill., July 21-24

Photos by Dave Ingles

Promoted by Jason Johnson, the same man who set up festivals in Dennison, Ohio, in 2004, and in Owosso, Mich., in 2009, Train Festival 2011 was set for July 21-24 in Rock Island, Ill., one of the "Quad Cities" that include Moline, Ill., and Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa. He said 11,000 tickets were sold in advance, for either just attendance, short shuttle steam trips, or day-long steam excursions. The site was the 17th St. yard of Iowa Interstate (IAIS) in downtown Rock Island on the Mississippi Riverfront. The key steam-locomotive participants included "home road" IAIS Chinese-built QJ class 2-10-2's 6988 and 7081, Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 765 from Fort Wayne, Ind., and several small tank engines, owned by groups or individuals, all of which had been at the Owosso event, and which travel overland via low-boy truck trailers. Included is the new "1800's style" 4-4-0 Leviathan. Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 261 is being re-assembled after required repairs in Minneapolis, but its group, Friends of the 261, sent down its coaches and other cars to the Quad Cities, on an Amtrak special train. NKP 765 brought some Mid-America coaches from Indiana, and Iowa Interstate has 8 open-window ex-Montreal commuter coaches. 

The event was not all-steam, as Illinois Railway Museum sent its Burlington E5 9911 and Nebraska Zephyr train, plus two other diesels, C&NW F7 411 and CB&Q SW7 9255, from its collection. IAIS, BNSF, and DM&E also displayed modern diesel locomotives.

Our plan was to photograph the unique moves of equipment to the Quad Cites during the week, and Carol and I reserved motel space for 5 nights. We had success in following 4 special moves to the Quad Cities, and photographed one short steam shuttle train and one daylong excursion, but decided that with the oppressive heat wave not relenting, by Friday we'd had enough success, and sun, so we cut the trip short and headed home. (At this point, I must credit a friend of mine with encapsulating the summer weather many of us have been enduring. He claims to have not seen the phrase elsewhere. He is Rich Copeland, of Philadelphia, who with his wife, Elaine, was in Oskaloosa, Iowa, for a circus band convention event of some kind a week ago. They had planned the whole week afterward to return home, but tired of the heat and cut off a couple of days and just drove home. Here's his quote: "We truncated the vacation due to the beastly weather throughout “America’s Hotland” (which followed us home, but I can deal with it better at home!).  I cancelled 2 vacation days, will use them later, and came back to work yesterday." "America's Hotland" surely describes it!) Another factor was that we had "done the Quad Cities" with the Chinese 2-10-2's in fall 2008 when they starred in a small version of this event as a charity event for flood relief for Iowa citizens, especially those in flood-ravaged Cedar Rapids, and the QJ's are expected to star in the 2012 NRHS convention in Cedar Rapids, so the only true "new" thing we would miss would be Sunday's Nebraska Zephyr excursion into Illinois.

Tues., July 19: Follow IRM's Nebraska Zephyr, with the 2 extra diesels, from Rockford, Ill., to Davis Jct., to Kittredge (near Lanark), Ill., on CP's Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern (former Iowa, Chicago & Eastern). When freight congestion and dispatcher incompetence at Kittredge was going to result in a 2-hour (at least) delay to the Zephyr, we "cut and ran" to Bettendorf, encountering 4 freights en route.

Wed., July 20: Go west into Iowa in the morning to intercept the two 2-10-2's deadheading from Newton to Rock Island with a 58-car freight, which included two business cars and a GP38 (in idle) trailing along at the back of the consist. In the afternoon, go east to intercept NKP 765 and its short passenger train, which came west via Peoria on the TP&W to reach the Iowa Interstate.

Thurs., July 21: Follow the first steam shuttle, with NKP 765, to Walcott, Iowa, then go to near Galesburg to follow the Amtrak special from Chicago up the BNSF "Peavine" to the Quad Cities, bringing the Milwaukee 261 group's passenger cars.

Fri., July 23: Chase the NKP 765 daytime excursion on IAIS east to Bureau, Ill. We set up for one westbound photo, then headed for home, shooting Amtrak and BNSF action en route.

Saturday's day excursion was to be with IAIS 6988 to Iowa City and back, and Sunday was to have the Amtrak diesels take the Milwaukee group cars on CP's DM&E (IC&E) to Muscatine, followed by the Nebraska Zephyr's day trip to Bureau and back.

July 19th, Zephyr Across Illinois
July 20th, Steam to Quad Cities
 July 21st, Steam Shuttle
and Amtrak Special
July 22nd, NKP 765 excursion
then home

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