Rails & Trails Pages

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Operation Lifesaver 2013

On Wednesday, June 20, 2013, the Union Pacific Employees Club, of which I am a member, hosted its annual Operation Lifesaver train to be run out of Altoona.  This train is usually hosted on a weekend but this year was mid-week and so was advertised as being open to Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts.  With not enough Scouts responding to fill two runs of the train, other people were invited by the Union Pacific employees.  Our train consists of 3 passenger cars with an engine on each end.  I will be a host in the dome car.

This train normally operates from Altoona to Chippewa Falls and back but with so many sand trains on that trackage plus work being done on that section, today's train will go to Augusta and back.  But that's GOOD--I have not been on that section of track.  Here's a view of a train passing us before we take off.

 I knew the Employees Club would be short of car hosts since this train was run on a work day so I asked friends Rod Peters and Joe Lewis to help out.  They gladly obliged (they like riding trains also).

Just west of Fall Creek we pass under this neat wooden bridge:

 Friend Dave Voss was on the bridge for pictures during one of the trips:

Entering Fall Creek and passing by the elevators:

Just outside of Fall Creek we go around a curve and parallel Highway 12.

 Curve a mile from Augusta:

A shot from the vestibule of one of the cars:

Just outside of Fall Creek we pass under Highway 12.

And by their water tower:

Augusta is the site of the famous Bush Beans factory.  It's quite large and uses rail to ship product.  The box cars are inside the building so we don't see them here.

 Just east of Augusta we stop before proceeding back to Altoona.  We almost get to the big sand plant but just get a glimpse of it.

Coming back into Altoona, we switch to another main track.  In the old days, this line was double-tracked (2 tracks) from Minneapolis to Chicago.  Now it is single track except for passing sidings.

The Altoona yard is almost always full with cars and engines since the frac sand industry took off.

 The Altoona depot is on the left.

 Here is one of the engines:

 A view from the engineer's seat:

 And the engineer's controls:

 Since this was an Operation Lifesaver train (railroad crossing safety), a display was set up to show the results of a train hitting an automobile:

 A railroad safety talk is given by Union Pacific employees to all passengers.

 At the end of the day we set up for shots of the train crossing the Eau Claire River bridge:

Another fun day of railroading!!