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Short Line Railroad Listings (USA)

Last revised: May 18, 2023

By: Adam Burns

In general, short lines tend to provide the most fascinating operations of any railroad.  As local, centrally based companies they are much more down-home in nature, often friendlier (than large Class Is), and are just more fun to watch than the big roads.  

They also give you a look at what railroading used to be like decades ago, back during the nostalgic era.  The information here features most Class III carriers operating throughout the United States and they have been conveniently broken down by state.  

The guide is compiled in alphabetical order by state (all American Association of Railroads [AAR] reporting marks are also included with each short line) and I hope you find it useful and helpful, particularly if you are planning a railfan outing and are interested in knowing where a short line operation or two can found in a particular area. 

Please note that at the time of this writing (2016) the information here was up-to-date, featuring those companies that were active and in operation. 

As time passes it will be amended accordingly to show any possible closings.  If you happen to know of any short line that has since shutdown please feel free to contact this website.

State Guide

Many short lines operating around the country are now owned by large conglomerates notably Watco, Genesee & Wyoming, and Iowa Pacific.  There are also a handful of smaller such companies including Pioneer RailCorp, Rio Grande Pacific Corporation, Patriot Rail, Pinsly, and Gulf & Ohio

All of these systems are included in the state-by-state list below along with the independent operations although you can also find out more information about them by visiting their respective parent's website listed above. 

Please note that websites for individual short lines is not included within this list although several do have their own online destinations offering more information about their particular service(s).  

Alaska

Alaska Railroad (reporting mark, ARR):  The state's only freight hauler, the historic Alaska Railroad is a Class II, regional, dating back to its founding in 1914, acquiring the Alaska Northern Railroad and tasked with completing the route to Fairbanks. 

Today, the ARR connects that point with Seward and Whittier.  While there have been initiatives to further extend the system these have never materialized thus far. 

The railroad still provides regular passenger schedules along with its extensive freight service.  In all, the system currently stretches more than 500 miles including both main and secondary trackage while annual revenues exceed $160 million.

Delaware

Delaware Coast Line Railroad (reporting mark, DCLR), Defunct:  This short line had been in service since 1982 operating about 25 miles of track in Sussex County (the Milton Branch and Lewes Branch), formerly part of the Pennsylvania's Delmarva Lines (originally part of the Queen Anne's Railroad of 1894). 

The road interchanged with Norfolk Southern in Ellendale and Georgetown.  However, operations were suspended in 2018. 

Delmarva Central Railroad (reporting mark, DCR):  A division of Carload Express, this system began operations in 2016 utilizing 188 miles of former Pennsylvania Railroad/Penn Central/Conrail trackage along the Delmarva Peninsula in Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware. 

It interchanges with NS at Porter, Delaware while trackage rights provide access as far north as New Castle.  Its southerly terminus is Hallwood, Virginia while short branches also radiate away from the main line to interchange with the Maryland & Delaware Railroad.

East Penn Railroad (reporting mark, ESPN):  This privately-owned short line operates over primarily disconnected branches in southeastern Pennsylvania which also reach into northern Delaware. 

The history of the lines trace back to the PRR and Reading, sold by Conrail in the 1990s.  The current road was formed in 2007 through the merger of the East Penn Railway and Penn Eastern Rail Lines.  Currently, it operates 114 miles of track and handles a wide variety of freight.

Maryland & Delaware Railroad (reporting mark, MDDE):  The Maryland & Delaware has been in service since 1977 when it acquired former PRR branches in Maryland and Delaware (more of the Delmarva Lines) soon after Conrail was formed. 

The road currently operates 120 miles of track on four different branches (the Seafood Line, Centreville Line, Chestertown Line, and Snow Hill Line) moving such freight as agriculture, food products, steel, petroleum products, fertilizer, and forest products.

Wilmington & Western Railroad (reporting mark, WWRC):  This operation is well-known for its excursions hauled by steam locomotives, utilizing a former Baltimore & Ohio branch between Wilmington and Hockessin. 

It was formed in 1982 after acquiring the remaining 10.2-mile line from the B&O, renaming it to the original railroad that chartered the route in 1867.  Currently, the W&W handles freight assignments on an as-needed basis.

Chesapeake Western's Alco power, led by T6 #11, has a freight at Keezletown, Virginia on August 27, 1979. Warren Calloway photo.

Maine

Central Maine & Quebec Railway (reporting mark, CMQ), Defunct:  Formerly known as the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic which took over the bankrupt and historic Bangor & Aroostook lines in 2003, beginning operations in the spring of 2014. 

This road was owned by Fortress Investment. Much of its trackage was located in Maine and southern Quebec with service extending into Newport and Richford, Vermont. The CM&Q operated over 500 miles.  It was added to Canadian Pacific's network on June 4, 2020.

Eastern Maine Railway (reporting mark, EMRY): The Eastern Maine Railway is owned by the New Brunswick Southern Railway and together serve a nearly 200-mile railroad between Saint John, New Brunswick and Brownville Junction, Maine in conjunction with allying road, the New Brunswick Southern Railway (reporting mark, NBSR).  The property is primarily former Maine Central and Canadian Pacific trackage.

New Hampshire Northcoast Corporation (reporting mark, NHN): This privately-owned short line has been in operation since 1986, operating the Boston & Maine's former Conway Branch between Ossipee and Rollinsford, New Hampshire right on the Maine border.  Its traffic consists primarily of aggregates.

Pan Am Railways (reporting mark, PAR), Defunct:  See Connecticut.

St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad (reporting mark, SLR):  This short line is another G&W property, operating a large corridor 157 miles in length between Portland and Norton, Vermont at the Canadian border. 

The road handles a wide range of freight including aggregates, brick/cement, chemicals, food/feed products, forest products, intermodal, steel, and scrap.

Turners Island, LLC (reporting mark, TI): This small terminal railroad serves the 14 acre marine-rail cargo terminal located in South Portland, Maine.

Massachusetts

Pan Am Railways (reporting mark, PAR), (Defunct)See Connecticut.

Providence & Worcester Railroad (reporting mark, PW)See Connecticut.

Bay Colony Railroad (reporting mark, BCLR): This small short line serves the area southwest of Boston on former New Haven trackage.  It began service in 1982.

Connecticut Southern Railroad (reporting mark, CSO)See Connecticut.

East Brookfield & Spencer Railroad (reporting mark, EBSR):  This independently-owned short line serves about 4 miles of the trackage in the East Brookfield area providing switching/terminal service where it connects with CSX.

Fore River Transportation Corporation/Fore River Railroad (reporting mark, FRVT): Owned by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) and operated under contract by the Fore River Transportation Corporation, the Fore River Railroad has been operation since 1902 providing switching and terminal service for the Fore River Shipyard at Quincy. 

Grafton & Upton Railroad (reporting mark, GU):  The historic Grafton & Upton began in 1873, then chartered as the Grafton Center Railroad.  Originally a narrow-gauge operation the G&U was born in 1887 and by 1889 and connected Grafton with Milford (16.5 miles).  

During the early 20th century it even operated, electrified streetcar service but this was abolished by 1946.  As the years passed the road languished as traffic disappeared sections of the property sat dormant but not abandoned.  

In March of 2008 the railroad was acquired by Jon Delli Priscoli with the express intent of reviving the system.  Since then the company has set its sights on growing freight business while working to reopen the entire line after years of neglect and disuse.

Housatonic Railroad (reporting mark, HRRC)See Connecticut.

Massachusetts Central Railroad (reporting mark, MCER):  This road first began service in the 1970s over former Boston & Maine and Boston & Albany (New York Central) property, which would have otherwise been abandoned.  The trackage is owned by the state and leased to the railroad.

Massachusetts Coastal Railroad (reporting mark, MC): Also known as the Mass Coastal Railroad this short line operates much of the former New Haven Railroad trackage in the state's eastern peninsula.  The road took over the duties of the Bay Colony Railroad on the line in 2007 providing service to the state's Cape Cod region.

New England Central Railroad (reporting mark, NECR): See Connecticut.

Pioneer Valley Railroad (reporting mark, PVRR): The Pioneer Valley Railroad is owned by the Pinsly Railroad Company operating a short stretch of trackage in southwestern Massachusetts.  It has been in service since 1982 operating between Holyoke, Westfield, and Southampton while interchanging with CSX and Pan Am.

Montana

Butte, Anaconda & Pacific Railway (reporting mark, BAP): The BA&P is a historic short line based in Anaconda, Montana that dates back to 1892. The railroad was once electrified, utilizing a 2,400-volt, DC system until 1967 when diesels took over.

For years it hauled copper ore mined near Butte, to smelters located at Anaconda. Today, the company is owned by the Patriot Rail Corporation, which acquired the property from the Raurus Railway (reporting mark, RARW) in 2007.  

The latter company had owned the property since May 1, 1985 and changed the name but following Patriot Rail's takeover it was returned as the BA&P.  

Today, it continues operating 25.7 miles between Anaconda and Butte with traffic consisting of scrap, copper slag, and copper concentrates.  The longtime interchange with the Milwaukee Road at Butte is no more but the short line connects there with BNSF.

Central Montana Rail, Inc. (reporting mark, CM):  This short line has operated since 1985 when it acquired a section of the Milwaukee Road's former Northern Montana line between Moccasin and Geraldine that once reached Great Falls.  

The rest of the property is former Great Northern.  It primarily moves agricultural traffic while also hosting a seasonal dinner train known as "Charlie Russell Chew Choo."

Dakota, Missouri Valley & Western Railroad (reporting mark, DMVW):  This large, privately-owned system operates more than 500 miles of trackage (including trackage rights) in the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana that was formerly owned by the Soo Line.  The road's traffic is largely agriculture and it has been in operation since 1990.

Mission Mountain Railroad (reporting mark, MMT):  This short line has been in operation since December of 2004 and operates 40 miles of disconnected trackage that was formerly owned by Great Northern.  The property is currently a Watco subsidiary handling nearly 10,000 carloads annually.

Montana Rail Link (reporting mark, MRL) (Defunct):  This large, Class II regional had been in service since 1987 when it leased a large segment of the former Northern Pacific main line between Montana and Washington from then-Burlington Northern. 

At its peak, MRL operated between Huntley, Montana to Sand Point, Idaho with trackage rights stretching to Spokane, Washington.  There were also a handful of branches under its ownership.  In all, MRL maintained more than 900 miles and moved over 400,000 carloads annually.

On January 10, 2022, MRL announced it would terminate its lease with successor BNSF Railway and the Class I would reacquire its property.

Yellowstone Valley Railroad (reporting mark, YSVR): Another Watco shortline, this railroad operates more than 170 miles of former Great Northern trackage in northeastern Montana, stretching into North Dakota.  It began service in late 2005 and handles traffic related to the natural gas industry including natural gas, crude oil, and frac sand.

Nebraska

Brandon Railroad (reporting mark, BRAN): This terminal railroad operates about 17 miles of track around Omaha connecting with Union Pacific and BNSF.  It took over the former South Omaha Terminal Railway in 1978, which traced its history back to 1927.

Manning Rail (reporting mark, MAN): This privately owned short line began operations in 2012 over 7 miles of a former Chicago, Burlington & Quincy/Burlington Northern branch from Burress to a BNSF Railway connection at Fairmont (originally this line reached as far south as Helvey). The line is predominantly used for car storage.

Nebraska Central Railroad (reporting mark, NCRC):  The Nebraska Central is a subsidiary of the Rio Grande Pacific Corporation that originally began service in 1993.  Today, it operates 340 miles of former C&NW and UP trackage west of Omaha.  Traffic is largely grain and general agriculture.

Nebraska, Kansas & Colorado Railway (reporting mark, NKCR)See Colorado.

Nebraska Northwestern Railroad (reporting mark, NNW):  This short line began operations in 2010 over a former section of the C&NW's "Cowboy Line" between Dakota Junction and Chadron (about 7 miles), previously operated by Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern.  

With its ownership of the Nebkota Railway the property totals nearly 12 miles.  The road moves grain and handles car repairs at a former C&NW roundhouse.

Omaha, Lincoln & Beatrice Railway (reporting mark, OLB): The historic OL&B dates back to 1903 as an interurban railroad, which is also well known as the "The Big Red Line".

Today, the short line performs mostly switching duties serving the town of Lincoln with connections to both Union Pacific and BNSF Railway.  Its customers include agriculture companies, cement plants, and lumber companies.  Other services include transloading, car repair, car storage, and track repair. 

Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern Railroad (reporting mark, RCPE): See Minnesota.

Sidney & Lowe Railroad (reporting mark, SLGG):  This small switching road has slowly grown over the years from its start in 1980 to service a car repair and maintenance facility to later handling grain shipments.   It has been owned by Progress Rail Service since 1996.

New Hampshire

Claremont Concord Railroad (reporting mark, CCRR): The history of this short line, built as the Claremont & Concord, dates as far back as 1848 and eventually connected its namesake towns.  

For many years it was a subsidiary of Boston & Maine, and once even offered electrified interurban service.  Today, it operates about 3 miles of remaining trackage in the Concord area providing car repair, bulk transload service, and general freight service.

New England Central Railroad (reporting mark, NECR)See Connecticut.

New Hampshire Central Railroad (reporting mark, NHCR): This privately owned short line operates two unconnected sections of track in western New Hampshire from Littleton to Groveton and also from North Stratford to Colebrook.  Along with general freight service the company offers car storage, car repair, transload, and locomotive repair services.

New Hampshire Northcoast Corporation (reporting mark, NHN): This privately-owned short line has been in operation since 1986, operating the Boston & Maine's former Conway Branch between Ossipee and Rollinsford, New Hampshire right on the Maine border.  Its traffic consists primarily of aggregates.

Pan Am Railways (reporting mark, PAR), DefunctSee Connecticut.

New Mexico

Arizona Eastern Railway (reporting mark, AZER):  The Arizona Eastern is a large operation utilizing more than 200 miles of trackage between Clifton and Miami, Arizona while it briefly enters New Mexico. 

For more many years the property was owned by Southern Pacific before spun-off to RA in 2001.  In 2004 it was sold to Permian Basin Railways, which subsequently sold it to G&W in 2011.  Traffic today includes copper, chemicals, agricultural, and forest products.

Santa Fe Southern Railway (reporting mark, SFSR): This short line provides freight and excursion service over the former AT&SF's Santa Fe branch between Santa Fe and the transcontinental main line at Lamy, 18 miles in all.  It has been in operation since 1992.  It now operates a tourist train known as the Sky Railway.

Santa Teresa Southern Railroad (reporting mark, STS): This short line, a division of Iron Horse Resources, began service in 2012 to serve the Santa Teresa Intermodal Park in Santa Teresa, New Mexico.

Southwestern Railroad (reporting mark, SW): This short line, a division of Jaguar Transport Holding, has operated since 1990 (originally part of The Western Group) over former Santa Fe trackage.  

It began in 1990 by operated the ex-AT&SF property north and west of Whitewater to serve Phelps Dodge's open-pit copper mines at Chino and Tyrone, and the smelter at Hurley.  It then reached Deming to the south in 1994 (27 miles) by acquiring more AT&SF trackage.

In 2001 it picked up 60 miles between Rincon and Deming from Burlington Northern Santa Fe, another former component of the Santa Fe.

Its property forms a rough "V" and its traffic remains based in the copper industry.  The railroad is headquartered in Deming with interchanges carried out via BNSF.

Texas-New Mexico Railroad (reporting mark, TNMR): The Texas-New Mexico is owned by Iowa Pacific Holdings and operates just over 100 miles of trackage (formerly, Texas & Pacific/Missouri Pacific) between Monahans, Texas and Lovington, New Mexico with a connection to the Union Pacific at the former location.  

The trackage is former Texas & Pacific/Missouri Pacific.  It was sold to RailTex in 1989 by UP, acquired by RailAmerica in 1999, and then purchased by Permian Basin Railways in 2002 before its takeover by Iowa Pacific.  

Its traffic currently consist of oilfield chemicals and minerals, construction aggregates, industrial waste, and scrap.  In 2011 the road embarked in a major upgrading of the property to handle increased freight demands.

North Dakota

Dakota, Missouri Valley & Western Railroad (reporting mark, DMVW):  This large, privately-owned system operates more than 500 miles of trackage (including trackage rights) in the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana that was formerly owned by the Soo Line.  The road's traffic is largely agriculture and it has been in operation since 1990.

Dakota Northern Railroad (reporting mark, DN): This short line carrier began operation only in 2006 that originally operated 72 miles of trackage in northeastern North Dakota that is formerly Great Northern and part of which is leased by BNSF. Since then, about 18 miles have been abandoned.  The road is privately-owned by the KBN Incorporated and Independent Locomotive Service.

Northern Plains Railroad (reporting mark, NPR): This privately-owned, short line railroad is mostly concentrated in North Dakota, leasing nearly 400 miles of track from carriers such as Canadian Pacific and Mohall Central Railroad.  The history of its properties traces back to the Soo, GN, and NP.  Its traffic consists primarily of agricultural products and it handles about 17,000 carloads annually.

Red River Valley & Western Railroad (reporting mark, RRVW)See Minnesota.

Yellowstone Valley Railroad (reporting mark, YSVR): Another Watco shortline, this railroad operates more than 170 miles of former Great Northern trackage in northeastern Montana, stretching into North Dakota.  It began service in late 2005 and handles traffic related to the natural gas industry including natural gas, crude oil, and frac sand.

Rhode Island

Providence & Worcester Railroad (reporting mark, PW):  See Connecticut.

Seaview Railroad (reporting mark, SVTX):  This short line is a division of the Seaview Transportation Company.  It connects with the Northeast Corridor in West Davisville and serves numerous businesses at the Quonset Business Park in Davisville with the line splitting to reach the waterfront at North Davisville and Quonset Airport.

South Dakota

D&I Railroad (reporting mark, DAIR):  Also known as the Dakota & Iowa Railroad this system is owned by L.G. Everist, Inc.  The short line operates between Sioux City, Iowa and Dell Rapids, South Dakota with a branch to Beresford, South Dakota via Hawarden, Iowa. 

The property was all former Milwaukee Road trackage acquired by both states in 1981 to preserve rail service.  The D&I operates a total of 138 miles and handles aggregate, distillers grain, ethanol, agriculture, cement, fertilizer, and other general freight.

Dakota, Missouri Valley & Western Railroad (reporting mark, DMVW):   See Montana.

Dakota Southern Railway (reporting mark, DSRC):  This short line began service in 1985 when it acquired 190 miles of the former Milwaukee Road between between Marquette, Iowa and Rapid City, South Dakota.  It primarily handled agriculture and grain products.  The road was acquired by Watco in 2021, and renamed Ringneck & Western Railroad. (Defunct)

Ellis & Eastern Railroad (reporting mark, EE):  This short line operates between Brandon, South Dakota, through Sioux Falls to Ellis.  It is former Chicago & North Western trackage acquired in 1989 by the Sweetman Construction Company, which still owns the railroad.  Its traffic consists of aggregates and construction materials.

Sisseton-Milbank Railroad (reporting mark, SMRR):  This company is owned by the Twin Cities & Western (since 2012) operating between Milbank and Sisseton on property that was once part of the Milwaukee Road.  Its traffic consists of wheat, corn, soybeans and plastic.

Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern Railroad (reporting mark, RCPE): See Minnesota.

Ringneck & Western Railroad (reporting mark, RWRR): Launched in 2021 after Watco acquired the Dakota Southern Railway, the Ringneck & Western plans to reopen the entire 285-mile line between Mitchell and Rapid City.

Sunflour Railroad (reporting mark, SNR):  This short line, which operates only on occasion today, owns 19 miles of a former Soo Line branch between Rosholt and Claire City.  The former provides interchange with Canadian Pacific.

Twin Cities & Western Railroad (reporting mark, TCWR)See Minnesota.

Utah

Deseret Power Railway (reporting mark, DPRW):  Constructed in 1984, this privately-owned, electrically operated railroad (formerly known as the Deseret Western Railway) hauls coal from a mine at Rangely, Colorado to a power plant at Bonanza, Utah owned by Deseret Generation & Transmission Co-operative.  It is isolated from the national rail network.

Salt Lake Garfield & Western Railway (reporting mark, SLGW):  This historic short line, also known as the "Saltair Route," has been based in the Salt Lake City area since its founding in 1891, originally designed as an interurban, electrified operation to carry resort guests visiting the Great Salt Lake. It later transitioned into a diesel-powered freight carrier (abandoning the electrics), in which it remains today connecting with both UP and BNSF.

Salt Lake City Southern Railroad (reporting mark, SL):  This 25-mile short line began operations in 1993 between Salt Lake City and Murray, Utah.  It is former Union Pacific/Oregon Short Line trackage and a division of the Utah Railway, a Genesee & Wyoming property.

Savage, Bingham & Garfield Railroad (reporting mark, SBG): This railroad is owned by Savage and began operations on October 1, 2007 over former Rio Grande trackage near Salt Lake City. The short line's parent company is Savage Industries.  The traffic is primarily coal related but  the railroad does handle other varieties of freight as well.

Utah Central Railway (reporting mark, UCRY): This short line is a Patriot Rail property and operates about 34 miles of track west of Ogden reaching Relico, Stratford, and an industrial park north of Ogden.

 Its traffic consists of agricultural products, asphalt, bio-fuels (ethanol & bio-diesel), chemicals, crude oil, feed grains, food ingredients, lumber, metal and steel products, lumber/wood products, LPG, petroleum products, plastic resin, sugar, and sweetners.

Utah Railway (reporting mark, UTAH):  The historic Utah Railway was incorporated as the Utah Coal Railway Company on January 24, 1912 and changed its name during May of that year.  It was built primarily to handle coal where it connected with the Rio Grande at Helper.  

The railroad has been a G&W property since 2002 and operates, via trackage rights, over much of the former D&RGW from western Colorado to Salt Lake City/Ogden.  Aside from coal the company handles aggregates, brick/cement, building materials, chemicals, and petroleum products

Southern San Luis Valley's homebuilt diesel critter, D-500, in service at the Rio Grande connection in Blanca, Colorado during the fall of 1973. American-Rails.com collection.

Vermont

New England Central Railroad (reporting mark, NECR)See Connecticut.

New Hampshire Central Railroad (reporting mark, NHCR): This privately owned short line operates two unconnected sections of track in western New Hampshire from Littleton to Groveton and also from North Stratford to Colebrook.  Along with general freight service the company offers car storage, car repair, transload, and locomotive repair services.

Pan Am Railways (reporting mark, PAR)See Connecticut.

St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad (reporting mark, SLR):  This short line is another G&W property, operating a large corridor 157 miles in length between Portland and Norton, Vermont at the Canadian border.  The road handles a wide range of freight including aggregates, brick/cement, chemicals, food/feed products, forest products, intermodal, steel, and scrap.

Vermont Railway (reporting mark, VTR):  The Vermont Railway began service in 1964 to sustain rail service over remaining portions of the bankrupt and liquidated Rutland Railway between Burlington and Bennington as well as between Whitehall and Bellows Falls.  

Today, the system also serves Newport and Palmer, Massachusetts, part of which is via trackage rights.  Finally, it operates a short segment between Montpelier and Graniteville.  The railroad handles a wide variety of freight and also offers passenger excursions.  Today, it operates more than 350 miles of trackage and handles more than 25,000 carloads annually.



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