Jacob and I make a "Guy's Trip" to KC!
It has been a long time since I lived and worked in Kansas City (2002-2004). During this time I was fortunate enough to make many new friends and get some exposure to a few of the extraordinary model railroads there. With a little coaxing from Dan Munson, I decided to make a road trip with my son Jacob this past weekend to revisit some old relationships, do some photography, and operate on three railroads. For Jacob, this would be his first exposure to some of these things!
Many thanks go to Dan Munson who coordinated the events, Joe and Tanya Brice who allowed us to stay at their awesome downtown loft, and Joe Kasper, Mark Steenwyk, and Eric Goodman who hosted operating sessions on their railroads. The view above is what we awoke to at the Brices' on Saturday Morning. We had left Fort Worth Friday afternoon after I got off work. The drive was eight hours...really not bad at all!
Saturday, October 8, 2016
Dan picked Jacob, Joe, and myself up at 0900 sharp and it was off to Starbucks for the obligatory morning caffeine injection before heading to Joe Kasper's house for an operating session on his N-scale Burlington Northern railroad.
Most of the crew was already in Mr. Kasper's basement when we arrived. In addition to Joe Kasper and the four of us, the operators on-hand included Paul De Luca, Joel Priest, Steve Priest, Eric Goodman, Keith Robinson, Mike Ditmars, Jacob Ditmars, Greg Murray, and Larry Tiffany.
Joe Kasper is very disciplined with his track geometry! This N-scale railroad operates smoother than many HO railroads. The theme of this railroad is the Burlington Northern--all routes into Kansas City. Represented are operations to Lincoln, Omaha, Brookfield, Springfield, and Tulsa. The centerpiece of the layout is Murray Yard with the complex Ustick interlocking at the south end.
Even more impressive is the home-made CTC panels designed specifically to operate this railroad. Housed on three walls of the tiny dispatching office, the three CTC panels can keep two dispatchers very busy during an operating session!
After the operating session at Joe Kasper's we got some lunch to go and ate next to the BNSF Emporia Sub main line in downtown Olathe (pronounced oh-lay-thə), KS. A unit sand train and a unit ethanol train passed in short order. We checked out the new LPK Logistics Park Kansas City intermodal facility and set up for this shot of westbound BNSF train Q-CHILAC6-08 at West 199th Street in Edgerton, KS:
No more trains were approaching on the BNSF Transcon so we decided it would be best to run south to the BNSF Ft. Scott Subdivision where we expected to find a couple of loaded coal trains. This jaunt landed us south of Paola, KS where we found two coal loads in beautiful sunlight. Scherer, GA bound train C-NRMMHS1-43 was holding off the main road crossing at Henson, KS with BNSF and NS SD70ACes basking in beautiful sunlight. Big Brown, TX bound coal train C-CAMKBB0-25 was stopped several miles behind the Scherer train at the Hospital Road crossing. Below are some of the shots of these two trains:
Though the light was excellent, an operating session on Mark Steenwyk's HO scale Milwaukee Road beer line was scheduled to begin at 1800. We had to make haste to his house after shooting the two coal trains!
Mark's railroad takes up three rooms in his basement and is primarily a switching road with a number of "zones" of industries and yards along the route. There is one job that runs the length of the railroad, picking up and setting out cars along the way. All of the other jobs work in designated areas.
All of the jobs call for two-man crews. Jacob and I would work together on the Gibson Yard switcher. We were given two switch lists. There was a lot of work to do! Several maps of the zones and track numbers assisted with the moves to be made. I think we only got through the first switch list.
Dan Munson and Joe Brice worked the Beer Hauler. This was the only other job we interacted with during the session. They dropped cars off as they passed in both directions. A second trip was begun to pick up all of the outbound traffic we had accumulated during the shift!
Rule G does not apply on this railroad! A great time was had by all. In addition to Jacob and myself, the list of operators included Dan Munson, Joe Brice, Bob Willer, Lou Steenwyk, Paul De Luca, Keith Robinson, Jeff Carlson, Greg Murray, and Mark Steenwyk.
By the end of this operating session it had been a LONG day! As we neared Joe Brice's downtown loft apartment, someone in the vehicle mentioned that the searchlight signals at Grand Avenue were scheduled to be replaced on Tuesday. These signals are on the KCT at the east end of the Kansas City Union Station platform. The searchlight signals at Penn Avenue at the west end of Union Station are also set to be replaced, but at a later date. The new signals were in place next to the searchlight signals at both locations.
Needless to say, instead of calling it a night, we spent several hours taking night photographs around KCUS. A slideshow of those images is below:
Sunday, October 9, 2016
Sunday, October 9, 2016 began with a walk to Kansas City Union Station for breakfast. Harvey's Restaurant is located in the grand waiting room of this amazing building! Not too long ago Union Station was in a state of disrepair with a questionable future. It was wonderful to see that this treasure has been recognized, restored, and turned into the focal point of downtown Kansas City.
We managed to shoot a couple of trains from the bridge in splendid daylight. An eastbound BNSF stack train and a UP coal train made quick appearances. The sit-down breakfast did have Dan Munson suffering from GEVO withdrawal so we charted a course for the BNSF St Joseph Subdivision with the intent of intercepting train M-KCMKCK1-07 which had a pair of GP50's in charge.
The I-435 bridge over the St. Joe Subdivision on the very western edge of Parkville, MO yielded a nice vantage point to photograph this train. BNSF 3160 was in the lead. This is one of five GP50's built with an experimental "extended cab" deigned to offer crews more room. This rare catch looked great in the morning light.
Continuing on the St. Joe Sub we caught two BNSF coal trains meeting at Waldron, MO and then found train H-SIOKCK1-08 rolling through the former double-track bridge at Platte City. CSX ES44AC-H 3180 was in the lead...GEVO withdrawal cured!
Next it was off to Steve Priest's house where we got to take a look and some of the top-secret projects he is working on. Among other things in his basement is his latest HO scale model railroad under construction. This railroad is his freelanced Santa Fe St. Louis Subdivision. As expected, the work going on there is second-to-none!
There was still some more time for shooting before out 1800 operating session at Eric Goodman's house so we headed to Parkville, MO. Here we found Hondo, TX to Columbus, NE train U-HOTCNB7-06 beginning its trek on the St. Joe Sub towards Lincoln. While I was working in Lincoln, ADM Columbus was probably the highest-focus customer we had. It was nice to see this train destined for the Bellwood Sub and Columbus, NE...and not be responsible for it!
We made the obligatory pass by Mid America Car. I was pleased to see BNSF 2701 there for overhaul and painting. This locomotive was assigned to Lincoln yard service while I was there. The 2701 was probably the crew's least favorite because it did not pull very well. It was generally kept in industry service. Regardless it was good to see the 2701 again.
An empty UP coal train caught our attention next. We followed this train across Kansas City, by the River Market area to the West Bottoms and into the Fairfax District. There was nothing special about this train with a particularly ratty looking AC4400CW leading the way, but is was headed the right direction and the light was good.
With the chase ended at Fairfax, we grabbed a couple of shots of a UPRR remote control yard job switching. We had several failed attempts to connect with some friends who were blocked by trains in the west bottoms so we all headed again for Union Station. Some BBQ from neighboring Fiorella's Jack Stack in the Freight House was ordered to go and we tailgated next to the KCT main line. Not a bad evening at all!
The last operating session of this trip was in Eric Goodman's basement. He as built an HO scale Santa Fe Emporia Subdivision layout with some fantastic Santa Fe models! It very quickly brought back memories of the many trips I made see the Santa Fe in the 1990's.
In lieu of running one of the many Santa Fe Warbonnet powered hotshots, Jacob and I took the old Wellington Local with an awesome trio of Santa Fe GP30's for power. These were Proto 2000 models re-powered with Kato GP35 mechanisms. They ran great!
The crowd of operators here was quite lively! We had a blast. Track Inspector Bender even made an appearance on the radio. I think the M-KCDV train spent most of the session in one siding primarily due to the engineer's conduct on the radio...HA HA HA! Let's hope no one pulls the tapes.
We switched our industries at Augusta, El Dorado, and Helix while dodging mainline trains. The Santa Fe office car special even ran with a pair of silver-and-red FP45 locomotives up front. It was a pleasure to operate on the same crew with my son.
Monday, October 10, 2016
This day would be a travel day back home to Fort Worth. We decided that we had some time for a leisurely breakfast before departing. Kansas City now has a streetcar that connects Union Station with the River Market area.
Branded "RideKC", operation began on May 6, 2016. Four CAF Urbos 3 model 100 vehicles make up the entire fleet. With ridership levels considered a success, plans are under way for future expansion.
The was a streetcar stop only a few short blocks from the Brice's loft, so we walked. In short order a car showed up and we hopped on. It is free to ride so there was no hassle buying tickets.
Our leisurely breakfast ended late morning. It was time to say goodbye to Kansas City once more and hit the road. The eight-hour trek home was safe and uneventful. This was a most excellent weekend adventure! Many thanks to all of my friends who coordinated and participated in the events! I believe Jacob had a very good time...