Oklahoma Railroad Jobs

Header Photo: Drew Jacksich

While Oklahoma has lost about 3,000 of its peak rail mileage (which occurred in the 1920s), today it still boasts nearly 4,000 miles. If you are interested in Oklahoma railroad jobs the state is home to three of the seven Class Is (Kansas City Southern, Union Pacific, and BNSF Railway), one Class II (South Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad), and more than a dozen, Class III shortlines (which themselves make up nearly 33% of Oklahoma's current rail mileage). Interestingly, despite the state being known for its agriculture, farming makes up only 10% of originated freight for railroads as chemicals and non-metallic minerals derive the majority (68%).

Please understand that a career as a railroader is something not everyone can handle. Working in the industry requires one to be able to cope with criticism well and, especially in the case of operating the trains themselves, an ability to deal with stress. This, of course, doesn't even include the constant fatigue issues and long hours away from home one must also deal with. If you are lucky enough to hire on with a smaller railroad, such as a shortline or regional, given their smaller size the hours and schedule will probably a little more predictable. However, they cannot match the pay that Class Is offer (which is partly just due to all of the hours you work).  In the end you will need to make the decision yourself on whether being a railroader is truly a career you are interested. 

Class I Railroads/Amtrak

Amtrak

BNSF Railway

Kansas City Southern

Union Pacific

Short Lines And Regionals

South Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad: The SK&O is owned by the Watco Companies (which owns a large number of small railroads), and operates more than 400 miles of track (originally Missouri Pacific) north of Tulsa through southeastern Kansas, and into Liberal, Missouri. Please visit Watco's website regarding careers with the company. 

Arkansas-Oklahoma Railroad (A-OK Railroad): This railroad began operations in 1996 over former Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific (Rock Island) trackage east of Oklahoma City. Overall, they own just over 70 miles of railroad. The independently-owned system maintains its own website. 

Arkansas Southern Railroad: Another short line owned by Watco, this railroad operates over 60 miles of branchline trackage between Ashdown and Nashville, Arkansas and between Heavener, Oklahoma and Waldron, Arkansas. 

AT&L Railroad: Owned by the Wheeler Brothers Grain Company, this railroad, started in 1985, operates about 50 miles of former Rock Island grain branch. To contact the AT&L; 505 West Main Street, Watonga, Oklahoma 73772. 

Blackwell Northern Gateway Railroad: This privately-owned short line, which maintains its own website, operates just over 35 miles of track Blackwell, Oklahoma and Hunnewell, Kansas which is owned by the state of Oklahoma. The railroad has interchange connections with both BNSF and UP. 

Cimarron Valley Railroad: This short line has been in operation since 1996 and is owned by the Western Group. It currently operates nearly 250 miles of track (originally owned by the Santa Fe) from Dodge City, Kansas to Boise City, Oklahoma and Pritchett, Colorado. Please contact The Western Group regarding employment opportunities. 

Farmrail: As its name implies, this short line serves agricultural interests in western Oklahoma connecting such towns as Clinton, Weatherford, Erick, and Elmer. The railroad also runs excursion trains for the public during the summer months. It maintains its own website where contact information can be found. 

Kiamichi Railroad: The Kiamichi Railroad is owned by Genesee & Wyoming, and operates more than 260 miles of track between Hope, Arkansas and Lakeside, Oklahoma with branches reaching Antlers as well as Paris, Texas. 

Sand Springs Railway: The historic Sand Springs Railway dates back to 1911 and was once an interurban and electrically powered although it switched to diesel locomotives in 1955. Today, the railroad is owned by Gerdau Ameristeel and still operates between Sand Springs and Tulsa, its original main line. It is currently a division of OmniTRAX via a holding company. Please visit their website to learn more about employment and potential openings. 

Stillwater Central Railroad: Another Watco property this large shortline operates more than 275 miles of track between Tulsa, Duke, Pawnee, and Stillwater. 



Texas, Oklahoma & Eastern Railroad: The TO&E is a historic shortline dating back to 1910. Today, the railroad operates between Valliant, Oklahoma and De Queen, Arkansas, where it is headquartered and is owned by Patriot Rail Corporation. Currently the railroad owns about 87 miles of track. 

Tulsa-Sapulpa Union Railway: Another of Oklahoma's historic railroads, the Tulsa-Sapulpa Union connects its namesake cities and dates back to 1907. It remains independently owned and information regarding job openings may be found at their website. 

Wichita, Tillman & Jackson Railway: The WT&J is currently owned by the Rio Grande Pacific Corporation, running on trackage in Texas and Oklahoma once owned by the Rock Island and Union Pacific. Please visit their website to learn more about job opportunities. 




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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 Survery'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!



Studying Diesels

You will be hard pressed at finding a better online resource regarding diesel locomotives than Craig Rutherford's TheDieselShop.us.  The website contains everything from historic (fallen flags) to contemporary (Class I's, regionals, short lines, and even some museums/tourist lines) rosters, locomotive production information, technical data, all notable models cataloged by the five major builders (American Locomotive, Electro-Motive, General Electric, Fairbanks-Morse, and Baldwin), and much more.  A highly recommended database!



Electro-Motive Database

In 1998 a gentleman by the name of Andre Kristopans put together a web page highlighting virtually every unit every out-shopped by General Motors' Electro-Motive Division.  Alas, in 2013 the site closed by thankfully Don Strack rescued the data and transferred it over to his UtahRails.net site (another fine resource).  If you are researching anything EMD related please visit this page first.  The information includes original numbers, serials, and order numbers.