The RJ Corman Railroad Group (RJCR) has only been in service for a
little over 30 years but in that time has become quite famous and
well-respected, ranging from emergency rail services and short line
railroad operations to dinner trains and aircraft maintenance! Rick Corman
started his company in 1973 and he began with little more than a
backhoe and some determination (he initially started out in the rail
services business being called in by railroads to do such things as
re-rail trains or locomotives that had jumped the track) but with that
has built an impressive railroad company, which among other things, now boosts nine different short line railroads in seven different Eastern states. Sadly, Mr. Corman passed away during August of 2013 but he left behind an impressive, well-managed railroad empire.
RJ Corman GP38 #2761 is seen here in Clearfield, Pennsylvania during the fall of 2003. This unit started out on the Southern, which loved hi-hood designs in just about every model.
Although RJ Corman
has been in the railroad business since 1973 it has only been in the
short line business since early 1987 when it acquired the ex-Louisville
& Nashville Railroad’s Bardstown Branch in Kentucky. In just twenty
years in the shortline business the railroad company has amassed over
700 miles of rail lines, its newest acquisition an ex-Chesapeake &
Ohio Railway branch line southwest of Thurmond, West Virginia. To date,
the RJ Corman Railroad Group family of shortlines includes its Kentucky Lines
(RJCC), Cleveland Lines (RJCL), Memphis Lines (RJCM), Allentown Lines
(RJCN), Pennsylvania Lines (RJCP), West Virginia Line (RJCV), and
Western Ohio Lines (RJCW) (these lines come from several fallen flag
systems, that if not purchased by RJ Corman would likely have been
Few other railroad operations work like RJ Corman, which has the look
and feel much more like a large Class I than a moderately sized
short line railroad. Because the company operates a very large and
successful derailment and emergency service it has the equipment available to maintain its lines at or near Class I standards,
something most short line operations can only dream of. Corman also takes pride in its locomotive and equipment fleet. Nary do you find a
locomotive not spic-n-span clean, looking like it just came out of the
paint shop! Its locomotive roster may consist of first and
second-generation diesel power but they all look just like new. Why are the company's locomotives painted a bright red? Well, Mr. Corman's first pickup truck was the same color and as he said, "You're better off if you don't change of lot of stuff that seems to be working."
Here is a bit more information about each of RJ Corman's current lines. Without Mr. Corman's vision to see potential in these properties many would likely be abandoned today:
Allentown Lines: These small collection of lines total
just 14.53 miles in length and operate between Allentown and Fullerton.
They were purchased in three states between the summer of 1996 and the
fall of 1997. The shortline has a connection to NS at Allentown.
Bardstown Line: This shortline began operations in
January, 1987 is about 20 miles in length and operates via a connection
with CSX south of Lousville at Clermont, southeast to Bardstown. This
is also where the railroad operates its popular My Old Kentucky Dinner Train for the general public.
Central Kentucky Lines: Located north of the Bardstown
branch, this operates east of Louisville and began operations between
the spring and fall of 2003. The line is more than 115 miles in length
and has connections to both Norfolk Southern and CSX.
Cleveland Line: Purchased in December, 1988 this branch
operates from a connection with CSX south of Barberton (a southern
suburb of Cleveland) at Warwick to Uhrichsville, on a line that is 55
miles in length. The shortline also has a connection to NS at
Memphis Line: This branch began operations in August,
1987 and runs from a connection with CSX, just south of Bowling Green to
Cumberland City, Tennessee with a spur to Lewisburg. Overall the line
is about 100 miles in length.
A set of five Corman GP38s have a coal drag at the company's yard in Clearfield, Pennsylvania on a fall evening in 2003. Most of these Geeps began their careers on the Penn Central.
Pennsylvania Lines: Currently RJ Corman's largest operation,
this branch was purchased in 1995 and is more than 200 miles in length
connecting Clearfield, Mahaffey, and Cresson. It has two interchange
points with NS to the north and south.
Tennessee Terminal: This terminal railroad was purchased by RJ Corman
in January, 2006 and operates just east of Memphis, sliding into
extreme northern Mississippi. It operates about 47 miles of track and
has a connection to BNSF Railway.
West Virginia Line: Purchased in July 2005 from a defunct
C&O branch near Thurmond this line operates 16 miles of track to
Pax serving a nearby coal mine. It currently has two interchanges, one with NS and another with CSX.
Western Ohio Lines: Here RJ Corman operates two
unconnected sections of track southwest of Lima. The first line, which
is 55 miles in length and connects to CSX at Lima began operations in
1993 while the second branch was purchased in 1996 and operates from a
connection at Ansonia to Greenville..
#2008 - Class QJ 2-10-2: A Chinese-built steam locomotive that was purchased by RJ Corman in 2007. It is fully operational and is used by the railroad for special occasions.
Corman SD40T-2 #8336 and a mate are tied down for the day at the Georgia Pacific plant in Mt. Hope, West Virginia on March 23, 2007. The company's fleet of tunnel motors began their careers out west on the Southern Pacific and Rio Grande.
What’s more, we, the general public can get an up close and personal
view of RJ Corman ourselves! The railroad also operates the very
successful My Old Kentucky Dinner Train excursion train
based out of Bardstown, Kentucky. Led by former Southern Railway FP7s
the train is adorned in a beautiful variation of the railroad’s red,
white and silver livery with a matching consist of dining cars. It also launched the new Lexington Dinner Train during the summer of 2013. Aside from the services already mentioned above RJ Corman also provides rail construction work,
transload facilities, railcar leasing, distribution, and through its
RailPower subsidiary even builds brand new, "green" locomotives. Finally, the company has announced it will also be entering the railroad signaling field. For more information about RJ Corman please click here to visit their official website,
which covers not only their short line operations but also their other
available rail services.