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  Trip Report: QJs for Flood Relief - Chapter 5
  18 Oct 2008, Part II
Saturday afternoon's charity passenger runs
  From: QJs for Flood Relief
Dates: Oct 14-19, 2008 Author: Nathan Holmes

On August 14, 2008, Railroad Development Corporation and Iowa Interstate announced a weekend of steam operations as a fundraiser for the Salvation Army, as a way of thanking and supporting them for their relief efforts during the record-breaking summer floods of 2008. The railroad would run four sets of trips out of Rock Island, IL - two runs towards Walcott, IA, three runs towards Silvis, IL, a dinner train to Walcott and back, and a Sunday trip from Rock Island to Iowa City - with all proceeds going to charity. All costs - operations, food (in the case of the dinner train), and staff - were donated either by the railroad, their partners, the City of Rock Island, or individuals so that every dollar raised went straight to the Salvation Army.

In addition to the passenger trips, IAIS planned to run what was billed as a "record setting" amount of tonnage behind steam on Saturday morning. Well, record-setting for the 21st Century, at least, since much more tonnage was routinely handled before mainline dieselization. Since the railroad needed to get 6988 and 7081 from Iowa City to Rock Island anyway, they just attached what appeared to be the regular freight from ICRI (the IC-RI turn) on the back, totalling 62 cars and some 6950 tons. The weather was supposed to be beautiful for a chase, but Saturday broke with a dense fog overlying most of the route. Still, though, there were good spots where the sun broke through, such as West Liberty and Walcott, and by the time the freight reached Rock Island for the main events, the fog had all burned off.

The afternoon consisted of five shorter runs: three from downtown Rock Island towards Silvis at 1200h, 1400h, and 1600h, and two towards Walcott at 1300h and 1500h. One steam engine, four passenger cars, and a GP38-2 (for the reverse move) were assigned to each. In addition, for those waiting on their train or just watching the activities, Iowa Interstate had IAIS 502 on display in the downtown yard. Looking at ticket sales before the event, the Walcott trips were selling reasonably well, but the Silvis trips looked to be struggling a bit. I don't know how exactly it panned out, but those observations were mirrored by the number of people I saw on board.

On Saturday night, the railroad ran a dinner train consisting of IAIS 7081, BNSF 45 (Powder River), IAIS's own 100 and 101 (Hawkeye and Abraham Lincoln), and IAIS 716 on the back for the shove from Walcott. (Note: 716 was likely following and not added until we started back from Walcott.) The chefs for the occasion were all either RRDC or IAIS employees, representing four different sites on the globe - Robert Pietrandrea, President of RRDC (Pittsburgh), Mick Burkhart, IAIS Chief Transportation Officer (Cedar Rapids), Hugo Avila from RRDC's Ferrocarril Central Andino (Peru), and Joel Lopez of RRDC's Ferrovías Guatemala. In addition, a wonderful selection of wines for the evening was provided by Dmitri Papageorgiou of Dmitri Wine & Spirits. If any of the chefs happen to see this, I want to both thank you for volunteering your time and talent, and commend you on what has to be the best charity dinner I've ever eaten.

One final charity trip was made Sunday morning - the return run from Rock Island to Iowa City with both QJs on the front end, followed by the coaches, and bought up in back by IAIS's pair of business cars. The train ran just a hair late, not clearing West Davenport until a bit after 0900h (scheduled departure was 0830h), and arrived in Iowa City at around 1115h, with the full fan contingent trailing behind.

I'd just like to thank everyone RRDC and IAIS once again for putting on this weekend and for donating so much in support of the Salvation Army. It's a phenominal thing for a railroad to come out and put on such a grand affair, all in the name of charity. I'm glad to have been a part of it.

I'd also like to encourage my fellow fans who were there, particularly if you didn't get the chance to contribute during the event, to consider make a donation through [their website].



Photo 85
Also on display in Rock Island was IAIS 502, one of the dozen new ES44ACs IAIS is acquiring. Al Hunt, IAIS's Manager of Car Hire and one of the original founders of the IAIS railfan list, was on hand to solicit donations for the Salvation Army and to shut the bell off every couple minutes.
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Photo 86
The inside of 502, looking at the engineer's control stand and chair.
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Photo 87
The back wall on the engineer's side, with all of the various breakers and control switches.
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Photo 88
The conductor's side of the cab
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Photo 89
And looking across the front of the cab from the conductor's side
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Photo 90
Here's 6988 pulling up to the loading point for a run towards Silvis. The runs didn't actually get to Silvis, but instead stopped just short of the East Moline switch, where the IC&E, BNSF, and IAIS all leave joint trackage.
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Photo 91
The first Silvis train pulls out of the downtown yard. Each trainset consisted of the steamer, several old Montreal commuter coaches, and in order to accomodate the long reverse moves, 700-series GP38-2 (717 for the Silvis runs, 716 for the Walcott runs).
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Photo 92
The first Silvis train heads out of downtown Rock Island, with the arches of the Centennial Bridge in the background.
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Photo 93
Here's a Silvis run passing the John Deere building in downtown Moline.
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Photo 94
The eastbound train passes under the Arsenal Island access road.
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Photo 95
A Silvis run out between Moline and East Moline
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Photo 96
...and 717 bringing up the rear
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Photo 97
On the opposite hours from the Silvis runs, the other steamer would depart with a run towards Walcott. This is actually the second run, but it's creeping along eastbound behind the QC Botanical Center towards the Rock Island yard, where it will reverse directions and head west over the Government Bridge.
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Photo 98
The star of the show, 7081, actually brought up the rear for the first mile or so until they took the main down at the yard.
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Photo 99
The Walcott run eases around the corner from the Rock Island yard out on to the Sylvan Slough bridge.
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Photo 100
A side-on shot of 7081. I always forget just how high the boiler sits on these engines until I'm up next to them.
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Photo 101
Crossing the bridge to Arsenal Island.
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Photo 102
Catching the pseudo-street running in West Davenport. I tried to chase it back towards Walcott for another shot, but failed miserably, so I just went to change clothes for the evening's dinner train.
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Photo 103
Coming up the bluff and about to pass under the Locust St. bridge on its way west. (Danny Holmes photo)
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Photo 104
Contrary to popular opinion, I do actually clean up rather well from time to time.
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Photo 105
The final Silvis train of the day comes back into the downtown Rock Island yard.
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Photo 106
The sun sets on a great day of steam-powered fundraising. They've already got 7081 attached to BNSF's Powder River and IAIS's two business cars, Abraham Lincoln and Hawkeye, for the evening's dinner train.
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Photo 107
An interior view of Hawkeye's main room. In addition to this elegant room, the car is also equipped with several sleeping compartments. Tonight, the railroad brass and their guests will be dining here, but we all got to walk through and look, since Abraham Lincoln does not have vestibules.
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Photo 108
Another look at Hawkeye's interior, since most people who don't work for the railroad never get to see this beautiful car's interior.
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Photo 109
The chefs for the evening are all RRDC employees. Skipping Mr. Posner, they are Mick Burkhart, IAIS Chief Transportation Officer (barbeque pork), Hugo Avila from RRDC's Ferrocarril Central Andino in Peru (the lomo saltado and tacu-tacu), Joel Lopez of RRDC's Ferrovías Guatemala (the Tres Leches cake), and Robert Pietrandrea, President of RRDC (the lasagna). Not seen is Robert's wife, Christine, who made some of the best crab cake appetizers I have ever experienced.
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Photo 110
A copy of the evening's menu
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Photo 111
Also not seen in the previous photo is our sommelier for the evening, Dmitri Papageorgiou of Dmitri Wine & Spirits in Rock Island. I thought I'd post the evening's wine selections in addition to the menu.
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Creative Commons License This work is copyright 2008 by Nathan D. Holmes (maverick@drgw.net), but licensed under a Creative Commons License. This allows and encourages others to copy, modify, use, and distribute my work for non-commercial purposes (only), without the hassle of asking me for explicit permission or fear of copyright violation. I encourage others to consider CC or other Open Content-style licensing of their original works.

All photographs in this trip report were taken with a Canon EOS 40D using either a Canon 24-105mm F4 L IS/USM, Sigma 18-50mm, or a Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS/USM.