Oklahoma railroads date back to 1871 (36 years before Oklahoma
officially became a state) when the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, long
known in late years as The Katy, entered Indian Territory (as it
was then known) heading south to connect to New Orleans. The railroad
dated back to the Union Pacific Railway of 1865, intended to connect
Junction City, Kansas with New Orleans.
The railroad changed its name as the Missouri, Kansas & Texas
Railroad in 1870 to better reflect its goals as the company would never
reach New Orleans. It became part of Jay Gould's empire in 1880 through
the Missouri Pacific system. However, it would connect St. Louis with
Kansas, Oklahoma, and much of Texas. Following the Katy, Oklahoma would find itself home to several classic lines by the early 20th century.
Today, Oklahoma is predominantly made up of the BNSF, Union Pacific and Kansas City Southern Railway
although there are also a number of short lines. These smaller
railroads include Class II, regional South Kansas & Oklahoma
Railroad as well as short lines Arkansas-Oklahoma Railroad, Arkansas
Southern Railroad, AT&L Railroad, Blackwell Northern Gateway
Railroad, Cimarron Valley Railroad, Grainbelt, Farmrail, Hollis &
Eastern Railroad, Kiamichi Railroad, Northwestern Oklahoma Railroad,
Stillwater Central Railroad, Sand Springs Railway, Texas, Oklahoma &
Eastern Railroad, Tulsa-Sapulpa Union Railway, and the Wichita, Tillman
& Jackson Railway.
Oklahoma's railroad network currently consists of over 3,200
miles of trackage. This total is about 49% of the state's peak mileage,
that reached nearly 6,600 miles in 1920. Most of Oklahoma's losses
since that time have mostly been due to the abandonments of unprofitable
secondary and branch lines centered around farming and agriculture.
For more information about Oklahoma, in terms of its route mileage over the years please have a look at the chart above. In any event, if you tire of watching the live freight railroading
then be sure and visit one of Oklahoma's many museums or tourist lines.
For instance, the Farmrail short line system operates an excursion train
and the Oklahoma Railway Museum offers train rides and features a large
collection of railroad equipment.
the state does not have a lot of museums to choose
from although there are a few including the Cimarron Valley Railroad
Museum Frisco Depot Museum, Oklahoma Railway Museum, Railroad Museum of
Oklahoma, Waynoka Air-Rail Museum, and Yukon's Best Railroad Museum.
Also, excursion trains include the Farmrail Tourist Train and the
Oklahoma Railway Museum offers rides. In terms of Oklahoma's passenger
rail operations it has had a slight resurgence since 1999 when Amtrak
began operating the Heartland Flyer that connects Oklahoma City to Fort Worth.
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