Railfanning/trainwatching totally sucks in central Iowa.


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I spent the summer in Des Moines, IA shopping for a new home to rent. I finally found little Pleasant Hill place to the east of Des Moines in Polk County, IA.

The two train yards in DSM are difficult to access without tresspassing on private property. There is no feasible place to park my automobile and get good views of railroad yard operations. I tried that while I was there already. I move in December 1 to my new central Iowa home. There are plenty of railroads around there though. A slow freight train in east Des Moines stopped me for about 20 minutes back in September. The main RR's in central Iowa appear to be Union Pacific, BNSF and Norfolk Southern.

There is no good place to park a car for the general public and watch trains in the yard. The UP Shortline Yard in DSM is surrounded by private properties and any parking lots near the tracks are private. It's like you need to pilot a drone to train watch there or get permission from the RR to enter the yard with a camera.

However, in Roseville, Placer County, California, there were plenty of places for the public to park near the UP yard and get a good view of the locomotive and switching action while I was living in nearby Sacramento County in the 2010's.
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There's plenty of places here in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to sit and watch trains. And nobody bothers you. UP/BNSF crosses here and I've seen liveries from every Class 1 RR while railfanning. I think it's one of the most perfect places to watch trains. And there's even several nice places to sit and watch the switchers work, too. One time in July, it was a hot day and Sue and I were observing the rail MOW workers replace Ties and one of the team brought us over a bottle of water each!