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A new view of an old train-watching site

Although “Outdoor recreational activity” was allowed here in Kansas under the state’s “Stay at Home” order, I didn’t really feel a reason to get out of the house until last Saturday, when I headed out to Pomona to check out an old spot that has changed quite a bit since the last time I was there.

Recently, BNSF replaced the truss bridges over the Marais des Cynges River between Pomona and Quenemo. The eastern bridge at MP 69 is right next to the Arkansas Terrace crossing.

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The new bridge was constructed immediately south of the old one. Here, I’m standing where the main lines originally crossed Arkansas Terrace. The tracks clearly take a gentle S-bend to the south. If I turn around 180 degrees, I’d still be straight down the tracks. Right now, I see a train a-coming. If I want to shoot the train in the best light, I’d better get back across the tracks before the gates come down.
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I safely made it back across the tracks before the crossing bell starting ringing. The train turned out to be a westbound “Z” train led by a quartet of identical looking GE locomotives.
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Here’s a shot of the westbound power going across the new bridge.
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Here, with all the Estes and FedEx containers, you can see the S-curve on the west side of the bridge.
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After a bit of a wait, here comes an eastbound, led by a “Tier IV” locomotive.
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Closeup of BNSF 3818.
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In a sea of JB Hunt containers was a solitary Amazon container. According to the USGS, the river was at 12.0 feet.
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About an hour later came this grain train, also led by a “Tier IV” unit.
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Closeup of BNSF 3727 crossing the Marais Des Cynges
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A parting shot of the eastbound grain train.

After this train departed, I got my mask out and headed to the Casey’s in Pomona for a breakfast crossiont. Once I picked up breakfast, I decided to head toward a crossing a mile west of the bridge. There’s a trestle just east of this crossing, but access to it was a bit to muddy for my taste.

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You think you got enough power on this east man?
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In the middle of this group of power is a blue foreigner.. CSX ES44AC 5399.
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Trailing these six-axle behemoths was a smaller four-axle unit, BNSF 2004.
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Four units, not a one of them the same model, lead a westbound hotshot.
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 Parting shot of the westbound power.

After this train departed, and this week’s broadcast of “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” concluded, I decided to take a little walk. I went up the road to where K-68 crosses the former Missouri Pacific, now known as the Flint Hills Nature Trail, just north of Quenemo. Specifically, I was looking for where this line met the line up to Overbrook and Topeka at a junction that the railroad called Lomax. The line to Topeka is also railbanked, but it’s mainly developed in the Topeka area and around Overbrook.

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Looking west toward Lomax junction on the Flint Hills Nature Trail.
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‘m likely standing at the location of the turnout for the Topeka line. As you can see, the railbed and ballast are still in place, but the trail is undeveloped.
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Closeup of the undeveloped Topeka Line.
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A concrete decked pedestrian bridge over a local waterway.
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A concrete pad for what I can only imagine was the eastbound signal approaching Lomax.

After returning to my car, I decided to visit another site of a former rail line: The former Santa Fe Lawrence to Ottawa line across US 56 on the North end of Baldwin City.  The end-of-track for the Midland Railway is located to the south of the crossing, but plans were recently leaked onto Facebook for the railway (or, more specifically, it’s Class III operating subsidiary, the Baldwin City and Southern), to create a new transload platform, public amphitheater, and RV park on the north side of 56. They apparently are planning on applying to the FRA for crossing authority to restore the line over US 56. I don’t exactly know how this is going to work.

What I do know: This crossing was originally a bridge over the roadway, built along with the predesessor to US 56 in the 1920s. The bridge itself was not removed until the early 1990s, long after the Santa Fe had abandoned the line north of Baldwin, and a few years after the Midland started running excursion trains. KDOT and Baldwin have also construted a pedestrian trail to service the Baldwin Elementary School intermediate center, which is where the following shots were taken.

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Looking north across US 56 from the pedestrian path. The trees are obscuring any evidence of an embankment taking the railroad over the highway.
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Looking south from the path. There is a embankment, but the trees still obscure the end of the Midland Railway’s track.

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