RJ Corman Railroad Group

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.  Sadly, Mr. Corman passed away during August of 2013 but he left behind an impressive, well-managed railroad empire.

The future at RJ Corman appears bright as the company continues to expand operations.  It now maintains 37 rail-served operations (switching or short lines) within 15 states across the country.  In addition, the company has material sales, signaling services, distribution centers, and construction availability to complement their highly regarded emergency response teams (derailments, severe weather issues, etc.).

RJ Corman SD40T-2 #8718 (ex-Southern Pacific #8518 built in 1978) sits beside a trio of former Conrail SD80MAC's part of a Norfolk Southern consist at the yard in Cresson, Pennsylvania on October 30, 2005. Wade Massie photo.

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 abandoned).

RJ Corman GP38 #3804 (ex-Southern #2756 built in 1969) and SD40T-2 #8799 (built as Southern Pacific #8254 in 1980) have the westbound "Ingot Train" at Eastwood, Kentucky on July 22, 2010. Doug Kroll photo.

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."

RJ Corman Lines: Where To Work

Today, RJ Corman is spread out across the eastern U.S. with operations in several states.  If you are interested in a job and/or career with Corman here is a bit more information about each of their current operations.  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 Louisville at Clermont, southeast to Bardstown. This is also where the railroad operates its popular My Old Kentucky Dinner Train for the general public.

RJ Corman SD40T-2's #5361 and #8799 sit wait to build their train at the riverfront yard in Louisville, Kentucky on June 20, 2009. Doug Kroll photo.

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 Massillon.

RJ Corman SD40T-2 #8336 (ex-Southern Pacific #8336 built in 1979) sits tied up in Cresson, Pennsylvania on September 25, 2005. Wade Massie photo.

Carolina Lines:  Added to Corman's growing list of operations it officially opened for business during the last week of March, 2016.  The new system utilizes 90 miles of what was the Carolina Southern Railroad, a short line that had operated the former Atlantic Coast Line properties between 1995 and 2011 after acquiring the trackage from CSX Transportation.  Its route stretches from Mullins, South Carolina to roughly Chadbourn, North Carolina with a long branch from that point make its way to the popular resort of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Childersburg Line:  This unique property is actually owned by the United States government, running 13.32 miles between Childersburg, where connection is established with Norfolk Southern, and a CSX connection to the north.  RJ Corman took over operations in September, 2019. 

Lehigh Railway: Acquired in August, 2020 from Steve May the Lehigh Railway comprises 56 miles of former Lehigh Valley trackage running along the Susquehanna River between Athens and Mehoopany, Pennsylvania.  

Luzerne & Susquehanna Railway:  Acquired in August, 2020 from Steve May the Luzerne & Susquehanna operates roughly 60 miles of track situated to the southwest and northeast of Pittston, Pennsylvania.  The property was originally Delaware, Lackawanna & Western/Erie Lackawanna and Lehigh Valley trackage.

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.

Nashville & Eastern Lines: Comprising 130 miles of the historic Tennessee Central Railway, the Nashville & Eastern began service in 1986.  The short line was acquired by RJ Corman in late 2018 and took over operations in January, 2019.  In addition to freight service the railroad is also planning to host commuter service for the city of Nashville as well as a historic steam locomotive; Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis 4-8-4 #576.

Owego & Harford Railway:  Acquired in August, 2020 from Steve May the Owego & Harford owns 26.7-miles of railroad between Owego and Harford Mills, New York, originally owned by the Lehigh Valley.  

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..

RJ Corman SD40T-2 #5372 (built as Rio Grande #5372 in 1975), along with four Norfolk Southern units, assist an empty PPLX train on Corman's Irvona Secondary at Dysart, Pennsylvania on October 20, 2009. Wade Massie photo.

RJ Corman Railroad Group Locomotive Roster

Diesel Locomotives

Builder Model Type Road Number Notes Quantity
EMDGP9209, 9001-9010Ex-B&O, Ex-C&O11
EMDGP161601-1608, 1713, 1731, 1737-1739, 1804-1807, 1824-1832, 1856, 1858-1859Unknown29
EMDFP71940-1941Ex-Southern2
EMDGP382754, 2761, 2781, 2792Ex-Southern4
EMDSD40-2R3314, 7895Ex-UP2
EMDSD40-23438, 3478, 3576, 3944Ex-MP, Ex-UP4
EMDGP35M3501Unknown1
EMDGP38-23801-3806Unknown6
EMDGP20E4119, 4121Ex-SP2
EMDSD40T-25353, 5361, 5372, 5409, 8307, 8336, 8569, 8718, 8861Ex-SP, Ex-D&RGW9
EMDGP387681, 7697, 7709-7710, 7908, 7918Ex-PC6
RailPowerGreen Goat1212-1213Ex-BNSF2

Steam Locomotives

#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. Wade Massie photo.

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 2013Aside 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 job and career 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. 




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Header Photo: Drew Jacksich




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!



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