many years, the TamaTower
stood near Mile Post 133 just west of Tama Iowa
protecting our crossing with the Milwaukee Road.All that changed one Sunday when the tower
was completely destroyed just before
at about .The date was February 5, 1978 and a 77 car eastbound Milwaukee
Road freight train was approaching.7 cars derailed and careened into the it,
leveling the tower and tearing up the side track and connection with the
northern Iowa route to Toledo
appeared that the front trucks of a car containing potash left the tracks,
causing that car and the following 6 cars to derail.The potash car was 6 cars behind the engine.Art Steffler, the operator, was on the ground inspecting
the passing train when suddenly he heard an unusual noise and ran, escaping the
falling debris.Art moved faster than probably he ever had in the past to get clear
of the diamond and the Milwaukee Road
tracks.Good thing he did, as confirmed
by the photos below.The Milwaukee
Road engineer was Bob Rogers.
the Tama Tower on 09/27/76 with a train led by C&NW units passing on the
Milwaukee Road tracks.This photo is
from Mark Llanuza.
is the tower at about 12:00 noon on 02/05/1978
shortly after the accident.Art will tell you there is a darn
good reason for the rule requiring the operator to be on the ground to
inspect passing trains.
The North Western tracks were repaired and back in service
by Sunday evening.The Milwaukee took a
little longer but they were open for business
by Monday morning.Photos are from the
collection of Merrill Price unless noted.