Day 4 – Southeastern Nebraska – 2 April 2012

by Jim on 2022/04/02

This is part of the Eastern Great Plains Spring Break 2012 Road Trip series.

Greetings, and welcome to Day 4 of Jimbaux’s 2012 Spring Break Road Trip, which – Day 4, not the trip – starts in Lincoln, Nebraska.

On the previous evening, I arrived in Lincoln after spending the morning in Kansas, a few dozen miles west of Kansas City, and there is a weird personal connection between the places that I visited on this day with the person with whom I did the previous day’s activities in Kansas.

I have no memory of what I did on this morning prior to the pictures.  As I have said elsewhere, I didn’t take good notes on this trip, and I can’t find the audio recorder on which I suspect that I have information from the trip.

The Plan

What do I do?  There are BNSF mainlines – all former Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad lines – leaving Lincoln in four directions.  The two with what I think are the best scenery are the two with, for all I know, the least amount – or the most unpredictable pattern of – traffic.  I am not from here and do not know the lines very well or what different sayings on the radio mean here, I will not be here for more than today, and I want to make sure that I get some trains; so, I just had to go with what was mostly a sure thing, meaning that I went out on the Creston Subdivision, which extends east-northeastward from Lincoln to Ashland, where three lines split further: one up north toward Minnesota, one to Omaha, and one toward the southeast into Iowa (which is actually the continuation of the Creston Subdivision), which is the old CB&Q mainline from Chicago.

Starting The Day With A Coal Train, No Surprise, And An Encounter With A Local Person

Seeing a coal train on this line first thing in the morning was not surprising, as I stopped at Waverly.

There is a convenience store and gasoline station across the highway here, and I got some refreshments there and possibly the entirely of what constituted my breakfast that morning; I don’t remember.  What I do remember is that some local good-ol’-boy stopped to tell me that the first thing that came to his mind when he saw me photographing that train was “terrorist,” that he did intelligence work, etcetera, whatever, okay.

I don’t remember how I responded to this, except that I may have briefly said that I am fully within my rights to be doing what I am doing; I think that he repeated something about terrorism, and I think that he might have been looking for more of a reaction from me, but I didn’t give it to him.  What I did do, however, was reposition myself once some signal tipped me off that the train would be moving soon; move it did.

What’s with the personal names on the sides of these cars?

I move around to 148th Street.

Well, I have a train heading east in the morning; I have my morning assignment!

Another Morning In Nebraska, Another Coal Train

Things will soon get repetitive here, and it makes the Transcon in Kansas seem really interesting, even without telephoto lenses larger than what I own.  Here we are a little bit out of Waverly, with the same elevator seen in the distance.

Remember that I had to rent a sedan for this trip.

This is BNSF Railway coal train C-BKMSLC1-14 eastbound, and these two shots are in Greenwood.

This next shot is something that I recognize as one of the blogger’s shots.

I like that.  As I have said before, broadsides are underdone and underappreciated.

I think that Q told me that the blogger hates carpetbaggers, though I can’t remember if that was on this trip or during my July 2008 visit.

Here is our loaded coal train passing an empty coal train under the Cornhusker Highway east of Ashland and east of the junction.

So, our train is bending southward and will be crossing the Missouri River into Iowa soon.

Corn And Louisville

The drive from Ashland to Plattsmouth was bizarre, but maybe I say that only because of my prejudices about driving along section lines in the plains, as the route of this drive (particularly the first portion of it) was largely dictated by the contours of the path of the Platte River.

When I arrived in the town of Louisville, which seemed unlike much of the Nebraska that I knew, I saw another coal train parked.

This train was facing east, but the cars did not appear to be loaded; I later learned that this was a storage move, coming from Coplant, Nebraska, and apparently going to storage at Dayman, Iowa.  I guess that I got here right as the downturn in the volume of coal traffic was happening.

Soon, the crew of the U-COPDAI turned out the lights, and the C-BKMSLC that we have seen already and will see again came roaring by.

For the above image, it’s important to note that my new version is less cropped than my older version, and my theory about why, that I just want to include some of those background things, like the blue buckets to the right, like I how I care less about getting ‘zinger’ train shots when I am out shooting, particularly in the less-than-ideal conditions under which I made this particular picture.

For lack of anything else to do, I continued chasing this train eastward.  Somewhere on the way to Plattsmouth along Nebraska Highway 66, there was road work, which caused traffic to stop, which allowed me to do this.

There is some deeper meaning there!

Plattsmouth At The Platte’s Mouth

I had feared that the stoppage for road work would put the train too far ahead of me, but this was not the case, except that I was not able to beat the train to Oreapolis; although the delay may have prevented me from getting a shot of the train on the approach to Plattsmouth, I was able to get plenty of shots in Plattsmouth itself.

Hey, look; it’s not a coal train!  Almost as boring, it is a short train with nothing but tank cars and a few lease hopper cars.  The grain hopper cars are on another track, apparently the rear end of an empty grain train preparing to move in the other direction; apparently, there was a three-train meet happening here.

Please forgive the seemingly repetitive nature of these images.  This little train was a local, a surely overpowered local.

This place seemed kind of neat, but, railroadwise, it seems that being here during the CB&Q days would have been significantly more interesting.

Clichéd as it is, I rather like that view.  Next, here comes our familiar coal train, the C-BKMSLC1-14.

Thankfully, we will not see much more of this thing, as I am as sick of it as you are.

I decided that Plattsmouth was where I would turn around and head back east; the fact that it was midday was not the only reason.

This train was about to turn east to cross the Missouri River into Iowa, a state where I had never been; as I recall, I wanted to wait until the next day to enter the state when I was with my pal TS.  Since I wanted to get back toward Lincoln anyway, and since continuing to drive further away from Lincoln would make afternoon foaming with Mighty Quin more difficult, the decision was fairly easy; I would get plenty of pictures in Iowa later in this trip.

Following The Route Of The Rock

On my way back to Lincoln, I used Nebraska Highway 1 until I got to US Highway 34; this allowed me to see some new scenes at a leisurely pace (since I was not in a hurry to return to Lincoln), enjoy the relative intimacy of a lightly-used state highway, and follow the route of the old Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad.

I stopped to take pictures at a place called Murdock.

I don’t know anything about the Oxbow Trail, but I guess that I should.

Oh, heavens!  The starkness of the plains speaks to me so!  One cannot hide among the trees or the hills, as one must confront the sky and everything in it, for the sky extends to the ground for great distances in every direction; one may move only to find that the great big open circle that surrounds him moves with him, the location of its circumference ever elusive or even unknowable.

In some places, though, there are refuges, and there are here at Murdock.

Imagine that the maroon locomotives of The Rock once made noise coming through this little town.

So long, Murdock.


Exactly what I did next, I do not recall with certainty, but I remember eating at the Raising Cane’s in Lincoln once on this trip (and once ever), and this might have been the meal for which I did that.  Now, why did I eat a taste of home here way the heck out in Nebraska?  Well, I just wanted to see what a Nebraska Raising Cane’s experience was like!  The chicken was slightly not as good as it is back home; the place seemed to have many patrons, though.

Back East

After lunch, for whatever reason, I headed back east, back along the Cornhusker Highway; I guess I wanted to save the McCook Line for when Q got off of work.  I figured that I would intercept something out here, and I did.

Well, it is great to see one of those increasingly rare locomotives in the “Executive” paint scheme of the Burlington Northern Railroad; some people hate those things, but I think that they are okay, better than Pumpkins, or at least non-H1 Pumpkins.

I think that it was at about the time that I was out here when taking these pictures that I received a text message from TS that really read my mind.  He asked if I was sick of BNSF coal trains yet.

Oh, hell yes!  I have been here for less than one day, and I am indeed sick of coal trains!

Slightly less boring, here, 10 minutes later, is a grain train.

Why do I do this?  I don’t know.  It is indeed an obsession.

I again returned to Lincoln, and it was probably around this time that I visited The Alien at his shop.

Heading West On The Q With Q In The Afternoon

After Q got off of work, I met him at his house, and we went out (further) west, as I wanted to explore both the Ravenna Line and the McCook Line.  Unfortunately, we did not see any trains, but I enjoyed the ride and the company, and I did get a few pictures.  We went as far as York on the Ravenna Line, then went southward to the McCook Line at Fairmont.  It was at Fairmont that I took the first pictures that I had taken in five hours.

I wish that I had more time to explore here and could see a train here.  This must have been a neat place in the Burlington Northern era and especially the era of “The Q” that preceded the BN.

The McCook Line – which is the Hastings Subdivision from Lincoln to Hastings – is part of a mainline that ultimately goes to Denver.

At Fairmont, we turned back east to head to Lincoln; I had resigned myself to the fact that we would get no train shots, and now I was just (still) enjoying the ride.

We stopped at a place called Friend; I think that we needed fuel, and I got this shot of the elevator and the depot.

Well, we will keep going.

We arrived in Crete.  This interesting city at one time had a substantial Bohemian population, but many of them have left, and a substantial number of Hispanics have moved in.  Since I was in Nebraska, I wanted to eat at Runza, a Nebraska institution serving the runza food that the Volga Germans who immigrated here brought with them. 

All that I remember about the food is that I accidentally ordered something with mushrooms.  I do not like mushrooms and almost never eat them, and I never (deliberately) purchase them; more specifically, I dislike mushrooms.  My only guess about how this purchasing mistake happened is that my little brain confused mushrooms – or the picture showing the mushrooms – for the cabbage that generally comes inside of a runza.  Like with mushrooms, I almost never eat cabbage and do not purchase cabbage, but, unlike with mushrooms, I do not dislike cabbage.  Anyway, if I ever return to Nebraska, I guess I’ll just have to return to Runza and order correctly.

Well, that was fun.  We then returned to Pleasant Dale, and I said goodbye to the friends and the dogs.  I love you guys; thanks.

Coal Trains Ad Nauseum

Yeah, I was sick of coal trains, after only a tad bit more than 24 hours in the Lincoln area.  In the pictures in this article, you saw a total of six trains (you saw, at Ashland, only the cars, no locomotives, for one of the empty coal trains, which might have actually been the same empty that we saw in the afternoon, which would mean that we really only saw five trains today); of those six (or five), all but two were coal trains, and one of those two was another type of unit train, one that, too, is common around here.  The one carload train that we saw today was a local of almost entirely tank cars.  Today was a good day, but, relatively speaking, the trains were somewhat boring, at least once they became repetitive.

Q, at some point on this visit, introduced me to the term “AFCT” as a means of expressing disappointment or dismay at finding a train only to see that it looks the same as most of the other trains around here; I will leave to your imagination the task of inferring of for what the letters “AFCT” stand.

Eastward To Omaha

With the darkness of dusk fallen, I got on the Interstate Highway and headed eastward to Omaha for a reunion with my pal TS; I had not seen him in nearly two years, and those two years were tumultuous.  So, we had plenty on which to catch up, and it was really great to see him.

This has been a great day!

So ends – or so ended – Day 4 of Jimbaux’s 2012 Spring Break Road Trip.


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