Colorado Railroad Jobs

For a state of its size, Colorado railroad jobs are mostly relegated to the Class Is which serve the state, Union Pacific and BNSF Railway, which make up 80% of its total rail miles.

Amtrak also operates across Colorado, notably its very popular California Zephyr. It is a bit disappointing that just a handful of railroads now operate in Colorado considering the state's rich heritage with trains (such as the venerable Denver & Rio Grand Western Railroad).

Aside from the Class Is just a handful of regional, Class IIs and about the same number of Class III, short lines operate in the state.  Historically, Colorado was always a major obstacle for railroads due to the rugged and impenetrable Rocky Mountains. 

The Denver & Rio Grande/Rio Grande Western was the first to successfully conquer the range through a combination of narrow-gauge and standard-gauge tracks.  

The state is also legendary for operating many well-known narrow-gauge railroads during the 19th century's great silver boom. Today, the Rio Grande's main line remains an important component of Union Pacific.  

The information provided here is to aid job searches in highlighting those railroads which currently operate within the state.  

Rio Grande 4-8-4 #1800 (M-68) departs Buena Vista, Colorado with the train #1, the westbound "Royal Gorge" (Denver - Pueblo - Ogden), in 1950. Robert Le Massena photo.

One thing which I have constantly stressed if you are considering a career or position in the industry is just how hard the job actually is, especially if you are unfamiliar with railroads and how they operate.

In particular this holds true for the large, Class I railroads where, because they operate such a large system an employee can be placed wherever they are needed and work incredibly long hours.

For instance, if you are interested in California railroad jobs but hire on with either Union Pacific or BNSF Railway you might be placed along their eastern regions in states such as Illinois, Texas, or Louisiana.

Lastly, once again I must stress that contacting me concerning potential job openings or inquiring about a particular position is of little use because there is simply not much I can do to help. 

Santa Fe SD39 #4001 was about a year old when captured here in Denver, Colorado in August, 1970. Author's collection.

For more information you will need to contact the individual railroad to see about openings (larger short line conglomerates such as Genesee & Wyoming, Watco, and Patriot Rail requests that all potential job seekers visit the employment page at their respective websites).

While addresses are often included here for many companies, I cannot fully guarantee that the information is completely up-to-date or accurate (please research, yourself, to be sure).

Please note, while many smaller railroads also have websites or web pages, they are not included here. However, by doing a quick search you can find their site on the web. 

Class I Railroads/Amtrak


BNSF Railway

Union Pacific

A set of gleaming Colorado & Southern E5A's, #9955 and #9954 (ex-Chicago, Burlington & Quincy #9914-A and #9913), have the southbound "Texas Zephyr" (Denver - Dallas) stopped at Pueblo, Colorado during the early 1960's. Dr. Denny Anspach photo. Author's collection.

Short Lines And Regionals

Cimarron Valley Railroad: This large short line operates 254 miles of former Santa Fe trackage in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Colorado.

There are two disconnected lines; one from Dodge City, Kansas to Boise City, Oklahoma while the other runs from Satanta, Kansas to Springfield, Colorado. The railroad is one of several owned by "The Western Group," which may be contacted through their website. 

Colorado & Wyoming Railway: This historic road has a history dating back to 1899. Today it operates just 4.5 miles of its original network, serving the area around Pueblo. The company requests all potential job applicants please visit their website for more information. 

A handsome set of new Rio Grande F3's lead the late-era "Exposition Flyer" westbound through Colorado's Glenwood Canyon along the Colorado River on June 14, 1948. Otto Roach photo.

Denver Rock Island Railroad: This privately owned short line first began service in 1993 on trackage once owned by the Rock Island. It currently serves three yard near Denver known as the North Washington Park, Stockyards, and Airlawn. The company does not have a website but their address is: 3400 East 56th Avenue, Commerce City, Colorado 80022. 

Great Western Railway Of Colorado: Not to be confused with the English road carrying the same name, this Great Western dates back to its incorporation on October 16, 1901 by the Great Western Sugar Company to serve its sugar plants in Loveland and Greeley.

Today, it is owned by OmniTRAX and the Great Western operates about 80 miles from Greeley to points west, north, and south. Its traffic base has also changed considerably as it moves a wide variety of freight. For information regarding employment please visit their web page.

Kyle Railroad: This large, Class II, regional system operates more than 500 miles of which most is the Rock Island's former main line between Chicago and Denver.

It was a long-time RailAmerica property before that company was purchased by Genesee & Wyoming in 2012. Its current traffic is widely diversified, handling thousands of carloads annually.

A Rio Grande 4-8-4 (M-68) with the first section of the heavyweight, westbound "Royal Gorge" (Denver - Pueblo - Ogden), through Colorado's scenic wonder for which it is named on June 1, 1947. Otto Roach photo.

Nebraska, Kansas & Colorado Railway: This Class II, regional is another OmniTRAX property and operates roughly 559 miles of disconnected track predominantly based in Kansas but also reaches Sterling, Colorado.

It has been in service since 1996 with traffic largely made up of coal movements while it also handles wheat, corn, and fertilizer. The best means of contacting the company is via their OmniTRAX web page. 

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Wes Barris's is simply the best web resource in the study of steam locomotives. 

The amount of information found there is quite staggering; historical backgrounds of wheel arrangements, types used by virtually every railroad, preserved and operational examples, and even those used in other countries (North America and beyond). 

It is difficult to truly articulate just how much material can be found at this website.  It is a must visit!

Researching Rights-Of-Way

A popular pastime for many is studying and/or exploring abandoned rights-of-way. 

Today, there are tens of thousands of miles scattered throughout the country.  Many were pulled up in the 1970's and 1980's although others were removed long before that. 

If you are researching active or abandoned corridors you might want to check out the United States Geological Survey's (USGS) Historical Topographic Map Explorer

It is an excellent resource with thousands of historic maps on file throughout the country.  Just type in a town or city and click on the timeline of maps at the bottom of the page!