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Steam & Excursion > Frisco 1522 excursion, 1988.


Date: 08/02/22 14:29
Frisco 1522 excursion, 1988.
Author: hank

On October 22, 1988 Frisco steam engine 1522 led an excursion from St. Louis, Missouri to Decatur, Illinois and return.  I was aboard and captured some video.  First clip leaving St. Louis Union Station  and climbing the elevated TRRA track.  Second clip continues on the TRRA  and yields a different angle view of the Gateway Arch.

Thanks for viewing.

Ron Hirsch
Springfield, Mo.

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Date: 08/02/22 15:30
Re: Frisco 1522 excursion, 1988.
Author: gbmott

Gosh Don, if you'd had a diesel along you wouldn't have had to work so hard (don't hit me, just kidding).

Gordon



Date: 08/02/22 15:34
Re: Frisco 1522 excursion, 1988.
Author: Frisco1522

NS wouldn't let us run the engine on excursions on their line.  That's Bobby Saxtan running.



Date: 08/02/22 19:31
Re: Frisco 1522 excursion, 1988.
Author: Bob3985

Nice videos. Always enjoyed running UP steam over MacArthur Bridge too.

Bob Krieger
Cheyenne, WY



Date: 08/02/22 19:49
Re: Frisco 1522 excursion, 1988.
Author: ironmtn

Neat video, Ron -- thanks. Lots of memories there of what was an important trip for the 1522.

I was at the time Trip Director of the St. Louis Chapter NRHS, which sponsored the trip in collaboration with the St. Louis Steam Train Association (SLSTA), the operators of the 1522.  I made the arrangements for the trip on behalf of the Chapter and to some extent SLSTA with Carl Jensen, who headed the NS steam program at the time, and who many of us knew. Previously, I had tried to negotiate post-restoration break-in runs on NS on behalf of the SLSTA, but NS was adamant that they would not host any break-in trips. But Carl always left the door open.....ever so slightly (with emphasis on slightly - very, very, very slightly) to possibly allowing a trip on NS if the 1522 had successful break-in trips elsewhere.

After successful break-in trips on C&NW and Wisconsin Central, negotiated through the good offices of North Western's Chris Burger (which he has written about it in Classic Trains), NS finally agreed to an excursion trip. Carl did not want to send the NS excursion train all the way west to St. Louis, something which both he and his predecessor at Southern, Jim Bistline, were oriented to do only every several years, preferring to keep the cars more in the heart of the system than out at its western end. So we cobbled together a trainset from various sources and owners, something which many of us who have planned and run steam excursions have experience in doing. Some of the cars were pretty rough, but they did the job. I particularly recall several coaches whose interior lights would not stay on during the return trip, which due to delays in Decatur was after dark. When we finally got them working, there were audible groans from the passengers, who simply enjoyed the sound of the engine running at speed while sitting in the dark (and in fact it was pretty neat). Or, from couples, who were finding the experience to be quite romantic (I get that, too!)

As we had previously operated a couple of times west to Moberly, Mo. (ex-Wabash) and east to Mt. Vernon, Ill. (ex-Southern) with N&W and Southern engines, and the market for those trips was a bit tapped-out, we decided on Decatur as a destination. Carl also liked Decatur because the entire route was still double track. If we had any problems, we wouldn't tie up a single track railroad with passing sidings which hosted some hot freight, such as the automotive blocks on the ex-WAB to Moberly and on to GM and Ford assembly plants at Kansas City. Or trains 111-112 on the ex-Southern through Mt. Vernon to Louisville, then as still today two very important freights on NS.

The 1522 crew was of course very disappointed when they learned that NS insisted that its own steam crews run the 1522. I had all but begged Carl Jensen to allow the SLSTA crew to run the engine, for at least for part of the trip, with the NS guys in the cab supervising, and of course with an NS pilot. But the answer was a polite but firm "no".

From the start of discussions, I always felt that there was some potential interest in more future operations with the 1522 on NS once it had proven itself. In the past, both Jim Bistline and Carl Jensen had allowed how much they wanted to "show the flag" on the western end of the system, particularly in St. Louis and Kansas City, but always found it a little tough to work into the schedule with the Southern and N&W engines, and make the numbers work. I always had the sense, ever so very slightly (and Carl played his cards very close to the vest, to be sure) that if the 1522 proved itself, other trips and more frequent trips on NS could potentially follow. And indeed one later did, when we ran a roundtrip on ex-NKP track to Coffeen, Ill. and return. That trip was much easier to negotiate, and I can recall Carl saying how the 1522 was a real puller and performed well. And he later allowed use of the NS trainset for the 1990 NRHS convention in St. Louis, along with the UP excursion / business train cars, and the 1522 later ran to Atlanta on NS for the NRHS Convention there.

The sense of anticipation before the Decatur trip was unbelievable. I can recall sleeping very fitfully the night before. I had long forgotten my feelings as the train left Union Station and climbed the sharp, curving grade of the old UD Bridge up to Gratiot Tower, but Ron's video brought it all back. I was back in a vestibule somewhere as we got ready to walk the train on the ticket lift, and listening to every one of those exhaust beats tied my stomach in knots.

"Please...don't slip or stall", I remember muttering under my breath, worried that a slip or worse, a stall, would be seen as the kiss of death for any future NS trips. Bob Saxtan took it very slowly, and honestly I could see why. The 1522 crew had run up the UD Bridge (or trestle, or ramp, if you prefer) a few times by that point and knew the track, and TRRA had thoroughly checked clearances (which were tight) previously. But even for an experienced engineman, it had to have been a bit intimidating for a first trip on that track.  And even more so to be doing it on a new engine you had never run before  -- and with a pretty heavy train, to boot. Others may feel differently, but that's the way I felt that day, and later as well.

The TRRA ran a hi-rail truck out in front (you can see it briefly in Ron's video), and they may well have placed a slow speed restriction on the movement (this was the first full-length train with the 1522 on their railroad, too, so they were cautious). There would be a second grade to climb up the west approach to the Merchants Bridge over the Mississippi, and we would take that one a little slow, too. But my recollection is that by that point Bob and the TRRA hi-rail truck were feeling a little more confident, and we took that grade a bit closer to regular track speed, which as I recall was 30 mph. And by the time we climbed out of the Mississippi floodplain on the former Wabash and up the hill from east of Poag, Ill. to Edwardsville, Ill., Bob had enough feel for the 1522 to let her run closer to track speed (45 mph, as I recall), and we climbed the hill with aplomb. But the knots in my stomach still didn't untie themselves until somewhere around Litchfield.

Much more could be said, but I'll leave it at that. Others can surely add more, and please do. A very memorable, and important trip, for an engine that so many of us came to remember and revere. Thanks for the video, Ron, and thanks for the memories. Even of the knots in my stomach.

MC


 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/02/22 19:55 by ironmtn.



Date: 08/02/22 20:36
Re: Frisco 1522 excursion, 1988.
Author: Off-pending

Great story ironmtn

I was a 13 year old lad that day anticipating the trains arrival in Taylorville. Then later that evening I was allowed to go down to the depot to watch the train return with some local fans. As you recalled it was very late. Imagine our surprise as the train pulled up to the depot and stopped. Briefly. And then was quickly on its way again. Do you recall the reason for the stop?

Posted from iPhone



Date: 08/02/22 22:00
Re: Frisco 1522 excursion, 1988.
Author: ironmtn

Off-pending Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Great story ironmtn
>
> I was a 13 year old lad that day anticipating the
> trains arrival in Taylorville. Then later that
> evening I was allowed to go down to the depot to
> watch the train return with some local fans. As
> you recalled it was very late. Imagine our
> surprise as the train pulled up to the depot and
> stopped. Briefly. And then was quickly on its way
> again. Do you recall the reason for the stop?
>
> Posted from iPhone

Thanks - glad you enjoyed it. I had forgotten about the stop in Taylorville, Ill. on the return trip. Sorry, but I do not recall the reason for it. However, I don't think it was to fix those lights in the....ahem, "romantic" coaches.

I might add a few more comments on Ron's video for those not familiar with things in St. Louis. The train left from one of the remaining few tracks at St. Louis Union Station, which by that date was no longer used by Amtrak, and had been redeveloped into a shopping, hotel and entertainment complex.

After leaving the station, we briefly ran on Amtrak trackage past the temporary Amtrak station (unlovingly known as the "Amshack"), and onto Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis (TRRA) track. Just east of the Amtrak station, we climbed the old UD Bridge, seen in the video (or UD trestle, or ramp, if you prefer - it went by all of those names). "UD" stood for "Union Depot", technically the name of St. Louis' first, and way-too-small passenger station at about 10th and Clark, which had preceded the grand St. Louis Union Station, built in 1894. But "UD" was also a general reference to the later Union Station. Wabash also had a passenger line into St. Louis from the northwest to serve Union Station known as the UD Line, and which is today used by the MetroLink light rail system.

The UD Bridge had the function of taking the east approach tracks for Union Station on the north side of the Mill Creek valley, and swinging them up to Gratiot Tower, and over extensive TRRA and MP yard and running tracks down in the valley. The tower is located on a low hill on the valley's southeast corner, and is seen in Ron's video.  It was later demolished.  By the date of Ron's video, most of the TRRA and MP tracks in the eastern part of the Mill Creek valley beneath the UD Bridge had been abandoned, as can be seen in the video. A few years later, TRRA would demolish the no longer needed UD Bridge, and replace it with an earthen ramp up to Gratiot Tower (pronounced "Grah-shut" in St. Louis, as for the major street in Detroit). It is still used today by both freight trains and Amtrak.

At Gratiot, trains could take a route north along the riverfront to the rail-only TRRA Merchants Bridge over the Mississippi, located a few miles to the north of downtown. This route, which the Decatur trip used, was known as the Merchants Elevated, or Merchants Line. Or, trains could take a route up to the lower rail deck of the MacArthur Bridge, at the time still owned by the City of St. Louis (it's today owned by TRRA). As Bob Krieger mentioned, UP steam has operated over MacArthur when visiting St. Louis. The MacArthur Bridge, with its lower rail deck and upper highway deck, is visible in Ron's video.

Just after the train passes Gratiot Tower, the MP "high line" can be seen paralleling to the right. This track carried MoPac trains from Gratiot to MP's Lesperance Yard, located south of downtown along the riverfront.

When the Gateway Arch was built, the old steel Merchants Elevated trestle above Wharf Street along the riverfront was demolished, and a new double track TRRA line on the same alignment was put through the Arch grounds in three tunnels with open cuts between them. Those are the tunnels and cuts, with views of the Arch, seen in Ron's video.

Thanks again to Ron for the really interesting and memorable video. And enjoy the sights and sounds of the 1522 climbing the UD Bridge, one powerful (and steady!) chuff at a time. Quite the show. No knots in the stomach needed.

MC



Date: 08/03/22 06:18
Re: Frisco 1522 excursion, 1988.
Author: Frisco1522

Good coverage of the trip Mark.   It was a long day!  I think we got back to Union Station very late.
As a prankster, those late nights at Union Station were a good time to blow 1522's whistle under the highway bridge and set off car alarms on the late night revelers.
One night we returned late and there was a car parked across our track and four of us got down and "bounced" and moved the car.  Bet the owner wondered what happened.



Date: 08/03/22 12:12
1522 stop at Taylorsville-my thoughts
Author: gregscholl

We chased 1522 that trip.  I had done all the Chicago and Fon du lac trips, and had even gotten it running at the museum in April.  This was the final piece to our video we were working on called "Frisco 1522".  Pat Cravens was the head guy during 1988, and he had promised me a cab ride, which did not materialize on the Wisconsin Central.  However he said I could do it on this trip, and the plan was ride the beginning of the return trip out of Decatur.  My wife and 1 year old daughter dropped me off, and we still did more switching in Decatur as it was starting to get dark.  I knew Saxton from the NS steam program, and had ridden the cab of 1218 with him in September of 87, which turned out to be his first weekend as the head engineer as Frank Collins just retired.  He had been at the throttle for a huge amount of time, and said to me-"The worst thing about this engine is there is no coal in the tender to take a leak".  NS speed limit was 40 mph on their system at the time, so that was top speed.  My video has never been put on DVD, but I did use the cab segment in a video called Steam Cab Rides.  There is a preview of the show here.
https://www.gregschollvideo.com/steam-dvds.html#40
As for the video clips in the beginning, we shot across from the arch on the Illinois Side as 1522 ran along the river, then we hussled up to the Merchants Bridge, and shot it crossing.  It was a slow slog with good sound.  We shot more broadside from Illinois side.  So the video clips were reminding me of that shot we did which would have been just after the video clip this poster showed us.
It was pitch dark as I got off the engine at Taylorville, and had to find my ride.  It was a late arrival back in St. Louis for sure.  We caught it a couple more times just to enjoy it, with no video.  In those days the cameras, even pro ones, were not good with low light.
Thanks for the memories.
Greg Scholl
http://www.gregschollvideo.com.

PS After that trip I only saw the engine again at the NRHS convention on the trip to Newburg, and the doubleheader back to the museum with 844.  That was a nice ending.



Date: 08/03/22 12:20
Re: 1522 stop at Taylorsville-my thoughts
Author: Off-pending

So we’re you the reason for the short stop in Taylorville?



Date: 08/04/22 15:10
Re: 1522 stop at Taylorsville-my thoughts
Author: MaryMcPherson

Hopewell lost a camera on the leg to Decatur.  I'm thinking they must have had a recording deck in the cab with the camera portion "on a stick," and as they were getting some running gear shots they found the end of a plate girder bridge.  The shot is freeze-framed in their show just before the camera bought the farm.

George Redmond was also chasing that trip, as he did with 1522's later trip to Moberly.  His footage from those trips made for our first 1522 show.

1522 On Wabash - Home (divergingclearproductions.com)

Mary McPherson
Dongola, IL
Diverging Clear Productions



Date: 08/05/22 05:53
Re: 1522 stop at Taylorsville-my thoughts
Author: Frisco1522

I remember the camera trying to take the bridge down.  It failed miserably.
There were some really bad coaches in that train.  My wife and Bro in Law were in one of them.  I don't remember exactly what caused us to be so late coming back.  There was a box lunch area in Decatur where the passengers ate.
All in all, it was a very frustrating trip with all the delays.  1522 performed like a trouper though and we were happy with that.



Date: 08/05/22 12:57
Re: 1522 stop at Taylorsville-my thoughts
Author: train1275

Very nice video. I was wondering after watching the scene filmed in the cab, the coaches were set up for graduated release?  By the looks of the movements of the automatic brake valve.

MaryMcPherson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Hopewell lost a camera on the leg to Decatur. 
> I'm thinking they must have had a recording deck
> in the cab with the camera portion "on a stick,"
> and as they were getting some running gear shots
> they found the end of a plate girder bridge.  The
> shot is freeze-framed in their show just before
> the camera bought the farm.
>
> George Redmond was also chasing that trip, as he
> did with 1522's later trip to Moberly.  His
> footage from those trips made for our first 1522
> show.
>
> 1522 On Wabash - Home
> (divergingclearproductions.com)



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