On Monday, October 21, 2013, on my way to Kansas City, I stopped at Mason City and visited the Iowa Traction Railroad.
It is the last electrically operated freight railroad in the United States and operates on 10.4 miles of track between Mason City and Clear Lake, Iowa. Our engine this morning will be "motor" number 50.
It is a 600 Horsepower motor and built in 1921. Before we can begin, the knife switch must be thrown to put power on the overhead line.
Here's the engineer's seat, which is identical on the other end and the engineer, Doug, jumps back and forth, depending upon direction of travel.
Don't put your hand in here--you may get a "shock"!!!!
The job today is to pull 19 loads of soymeal out from the soybean plant for interchange with the Canadian Pacific Railroad and bring back 7 empties. Because of track elevation and the small engine, we can only pull 4 cars at a time, so this will take several moves. Here is part of the large AGP Soy Plant that the Iowa Traction services.
Here is our job for today, 4 cars at a time:
This is why we can only pull 4 cars at a time, and that is uphill on a curve, with a small engine.
We pull the cars to this location. Since there is no run-around track, the motor will cut off and duck into the siding. The 4 cars will be allowed to roll by before the motor heads back for another 4 cars. After all loads are on the track to the right, the cars will be shoved to the CP Interchange track.
The loads roll past.
Back to get 4 more of this string.
The Iowa Traction serves the soy plant from the north, bringing in soybeans and taking out soy meal. The Union Pacific serves the plant from the south and brings in tank cars.
OK--all loads are assembled and we shove the string to the Canadian Pacific.
The loads are on the left and we are picking up the empties on the right.
The Union Pacific crosses under this overpass and the sidetrack to the left is the Iowa Traction's interchange track with the UP.
Conductor John protects the shove as the empties are shoved into the plant for loading.
Back at the car barn, there are 2 passenger cars stored inside. Here's one of them (I thought I had taken pix of both).
And Motor #51 is getting new wheels.
Outside, Motor #54 waits to do switching at the scrapyard in the afternoon.
After this ride, I checked out the Mason City sites. Here's the Canadian Pacific station, formerly Milwaukee Road.
They still have a turntable in their yard.
Here's the former CNW depot, near what is now Union Pacific track.
I then head up to Manly, site of a large Iowa Northern yard, and crossing of the Union Pacific. Here's a GREAT Welcome Sign!!
There's still part of the roundhouse and a turntable here. And check out those 2 cars awaiting restoration.
Iowa Northern has a large yard with lots of tank cars here. I think it's an oil transloading facility.
And they are constructing a large loop track, I think for transloading intermodal.
This will be the lead to the loop.
There's some vintage stuff here, I think for Iowa Northern's Dan Sabin's planned Museum.
I had a little time before dark so I sat at the diamond of the crossing of the CP and UP and watched trains!!
Thanks to Iowa Traction's GM Michael Johns and crew members Doug and John for a most interesting ride on the Iowa Traction Railroad!!