Saturday, January 30, 2010

Derailed at Chariton

Wouldn't you know that most of us in the neighborhood slept right through the most excitement we've had for some time, a derailment involving the last nine cars and rear engine of an east-bound Burlington Northern & Santa Fe coal train at about 3 a.m. today. Of course we're so used to trains here that we don't think much about them, but I'm told I missed a mighty bang.

I live something more than a block west of the tracks --- Iowa's busiest --- and for better or worse didn't realize anything was wrong until I noticed far more traffic than usually goes up and down this street on a Saturday morning. Then I investigated and after walking down the alley a ways noticed two trains stalled side by side, one east- and one west-bound, a blocked street and dozens of people and pieces of large equipment.

Of course it's too early to know exactly what happened --- this is the first derailment in town that I can remember. The tracks curve tightly among houses and businesses and so it's impossible to view the entire scene except from above, I suppose. The engine was off the tracks, but not tipped over, two and a half blocks north, right beside the new hardware store that just opened last fall. I had to stop in and kid about that as I'm sure half Chariton already had --- move your store off the square (actually just across the alley but right beside the tracks) and that's what you get --- a train in "lawn and garden." Actually there was no damage and no injuries.

At least one coal car was off the tracks south of the Court Avenue overpass, but fortunately none of the cars went off the overpass and down onto the street.

Now of course there are hundreds of repair personnel swarming along the tracks picking up coal first, clearing damaged cars second and finally repairing the line. The cars and engine tipped off the east-bound tracks across the west-bound tracks, so both were damaged. Three semi loads of ties are parked a half block north. The BN&SF guestimate is that one-way traffic will resume at about 5 p.m. but I wonder about that.

So it's an interesting day down south and a bad one for rail traffic, since this will disrupt east-west travel nationwide on the BN&SF. Somewhere out there are frustrated Amtrak passengers since it doesn't look like either east-bound or west-bound is going to make it through Iowa today.


Ed said...

Having lived only a block from very busy tracks in Ames, I know the feeling. Train...what train?

Anonymous said...

I have noted several time in the past Amtrack has used the UP tracks further north which pass through Carroll and Denison on the way to Omaha. So, perhaps those folks are not quite as unhappy as the customers waiting for their coal.

Frank D. Myers said...

That's the route the morning east-bound took, but of course that's little comfort to those who planned to embark or disembark along the usual route between Omaha and Chicago. Haven't heard about routing of the afternoon west-bound, but only coal trains seem to be piled up behind the two still idling in my back yard, one of which is a freight.

Anonymous said...

It was a sight to see--I also said Train..what train. I never heard it happen from 3 blocks away.

Anonymous said...

0940 31 Jan 2010 the east bound Amtrack passed by Denison at a rather slow pace as I was enjoying a cold winter walk along the county road. So I am guessing you are still having work done on the tracks in your area. Not sure the lone deer, which I also viewed during my journey, took in the unusual sight of the passenger train or not as coal and freight pass our way each hour. Yet I did take a few minutes from my meditation to wonder just where those on board were going and if they enjoyed the "different than normal" scenery as they paralleled the Boyer River.