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Oklahoma Short Line Railroads

Published: April 26, 2023

By: Adam Burns

Arkansas-Oklahoma Railroad

(reporting mark, AOK):  Also referred to as the A-OK Railroad via its reporting marks, this privately-held short line operates segments of the Rock Island's former Choctaw Route between Howe and McAlester as well as between Shawnee and Midwest City, slightly over 100 miles in all.  

It has been in service since 1996 and steadily increased its carloadings since then.  The railroad's long term goals include opening more sections of the former Choctaw line.

Arkansas Southern Railroad

(reporting mark, ARS): The Arkansas Southern is a Watco property that began service in 2005, leasing 61 miles from KCS via two disconnected lines (Waldron, Arkansas-Heavener, Oklahoma and Ashdown-Nashville).  Its traffic base is unknown.

AT&L Railroad

(reporting mark, ATLT): Owned by the Wheeler Brothers Grain Company, this railroad, started in 1985, operates about 50 miles of former Rock Island grain branches running between El Reno (where it interchanges with UP), Watonga, and Bridgeport.  Its current traffic base includes grain, fertilizer and agricultural products.

Blackwell Northern Gateway Railroad

(reporting mark, BNG): This small shortline is owned by the Blackwell Industrial Authority Oklahoma Department of Transportation while the line is operated by US Rail Partners. 

Its trackage consists of about 35 miles between Blackwell, Oklahoma and Hunnewell, Kansas.  It has been in service since 2002 when it took over operating rights from the South Kansas & Oklahoma.

Cimarron Valley Railroad

(reporting mark, CVR):  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.  Much of the trackage is 10 mph and weed-covered.  Its traffic base is primarily agriculture.

Farmrail Corporation

(reporting mark, FMRC):  Farmrail first began service in 1981 when it leased 82 miles of the Rock Island's former Choctaw Route between Weatherford and Erick to serve agriculture interests.  

Since then it has picked up more trackage with heritage tracing back to the Santa Fe and Frisco.  Including its subsidiary, the Grainbelt (reporting mark, GNBC), its network totals roughly 350 miles. 

Kiamichi Railroad

(reporting mark, KRR):  This large short line operates 261 miles  of track (some of which is trackage rights) running from Hope, Arkansas to west of Durant, Oklahoma along the Red River.  There is also a north-south section running from Paris, Texas to Antlers, Oklahoma. 

The route's history traces back to the Frisco, when it was sold in 1987 by Burlington Northern.  RailAmerica acquired the property in 2002 from States Rail before being purchased by G&W in 2012.  Today, traffic consists of coal, lumber, aggregates, minerals, glass, paper, chemicals, cement, pulpwood, feed and food products.

Northwestern Oklahoma Railroad

(reporting mark NOKL):  This short line has a history tracing back to 1973.  It is situated near the Texas/Kansas border and currently maintains 5 miles of industrial track in Woodward, Oklahoma serving local businesses.  Interchange is provided via BNSF.

Port of Muskogee Railroad

(reporting mark, PMR):  Managed by the Muskogee City-County Port Authority, this short line operates 5.5 miles of industrial trackage in Muskogee, Oklahoma.

Sand Springs Railway

(reporting mark, SS):  This historic company traces its history back to an interurban chartered on February 6, 1911.  It was built to transport passengers from the the suburb of Sand Springs to Tulsa, 10 miles.  However, over the years its developed a profitable carload freight business, allowing it to survive past the end of the interurban era (roughly between 1920 and 1945).  It discontinued electrified/passenger service in 1955 and remains in service today as a short line freight carrier.

Stillwater Central Railroad

(reporting mark, SLWC): Another Watco property this large short line operates more than 275 miles of track between Tulsa, Duke, Pawnee, and Stillwater.  

It has been in service since 1998 and its traffic has steadily grown over the years where today it includes transload services, agriculture, petroleum products, minerals, and industrial products.

South Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad

(reporting mark, SKOL): The SK&O is another Watco regional railroad Tulsa, Oklahoma to several points throughout southeastern Kansas including Winfield, Humboldt, and Pittsburg among others.  

The collection of lines trace their roots back to the Missouri Pacific, St. Louis-San Francisco, and Santa Fe.  Its property totals 404 miles and annual carloads exceed 50,000 moving such products as agriculture, cement, coal, chemicals, steel, and plastics.

Texas, Oklahoma & Eastern Railroad

(reporting mark, TOE):  The TO&E, also a Patriot Rail subsidiary, operates the other half of the original De Queen & Eastern main line from the Arkansas state line to Valliant, Oklahoma.  Its traffic base is predominantly forest products.

Tulsa-Sapulpa Union Railway

(reporting mark, TSU): Another of Oklahoma's historic railroads, the Tulsa-Sapulpa Union connects its namesake cities and dates back to 1907. 

It began service as an interurban but suffered a few bankruptcies during its early years.  In 1918 it completed its 25 mile main line between Tulsa, Sapulpa, and Mounds although the extension to the latter town was pulled up in 1928.  

Its freight traffic surged thanks largely to the oil boom during the early 20th century.  It suffered one additional bankruptcy in 1929 and acquired its current name in 1943.  

Electrified operations were discontinued in 1960 and it currently operates with EMD switchers.  Today, the road's system runs 10 miles between its namesake towns and a 13-mile branch leased from UP between Tulsa and Jenks.

WFEC Railroad

(reporting mark, WFEC):  This short line was built in 1997 to serve the coal-fired Hugo Power Plant at Fort Towson.  It operates 15 miles of track to an interchange with the Texas, Oklahoma & Eastern Railroad at Valliant.  Its traffic is solely coal which is moved to the plant.

Wichita, Tillman & Jackson Railway

(reporting mark, WTJR): The WT&J is currently owned by the Rio Grande Pacific Corporation, running on disconnected trackage in Texas and Oklahoma once owned by the Rock Island and Union Pacific.  It has been in service since 1991.