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Challenger Across The Heartland / Rondout, Illinois Hot Spot

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All pictures displayed are video captures from actual program footage unless noted.

Program 133
Challenger Across The Heartland / Rondout, Illinois Hot Spot

For this program we follow the world's largest operating steam locomotive on a series of excursions across Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin. The first one, sponsored by Omaha, Nebraska based Camerail Club, begins in Council Bluffs, Iowa and runs north through the Missouri River Valley to Sioux City.

Next is a pair of excursions sponsored by the 20th Century Railroad Club and the Chicago Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. These ran between West Chicago, Illinois and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

And finally, mix Amtrak, Metra, the Canadian Pacific Railway, and the Elgin, Joliet, & Eastern Railway all together and put that concoction 32.5 miles north of Chicago and you'll get Rondout, Illinois. This storied junction has a long and colorful history than stretches back more than 100 years.

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Resting quietly on a siding in Council Bluffs, Iowa, the 3985 has just come in from locomotive’s base in Cheyenne, Wyoming

Even though the 3985 is capped and locked up for the night, Trackside host Dave Reed can still feel the heat from the fire and smell the hot lubricating grease from the running gear.

Freight trains roll passed the slumbering 3985, but tomorrow morning the giant will be wide awake, leading a Camerail Club excursion to Sioux City, Iowa

Here we go.  The 3985 swings north out of the yard in Council Bluffs for a rare mileage trip over former Chicago & Northwestern trackage.

On the return trip to Council Bluffs, the train paused for a photo runby. Here the 3985 is decelerating after completing the last of three runbys.

The 3985 shows off its articulation following the completion of the excursion.

Almost there. More than a few were anticipating the 3985 passing through Rochelle on its way to Chicago in 2002.

About an hour later the train crosses the Fox River at Geneva, Illinois.

Going like 60, the 3985 bears down on the camera on the way back to Chicago.

Rondout, Illinois. Here a southbound Canadian Pacific freight with a Soo Line SD60 on the point is about to cross the Elgin, Joliet, & Eastern. This angle is from atop the former, Chicago, North Shore, and Milwaukee right-of-way.

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