Cimarron Valley Railroad here for communities
by C.F. David

The Cimarron Valley Railroad’s familiar white on blue locomotives carry a variety of products through three states. The Y-shaped line runs from just west of Dodge City, Kan., to just east of Boise City and Springfield, Colo. The Western Group purchased the line from Burlington Northern Santa Fe in 1996; however the railroad, the roadbeds and tracks, were built in about 1912.

The Western Group, is a Ogden, Utah company specializing in class 1 railroads; it’s ownership include a passenger excursion train in Clarksdale, Ariz. and three different ranch entities. Cimarron Valley and it’s 16 employees are supervised by Henry Hale, a former Santa Fe employee.

“I began working for Santa Fe in 1970. So I’ve been in railroads for...33 years,” Hale said by phone. “But I enjoy short line railroads. We are better able, more capable, of accomplishing the small things.’ “Class 1 railroads started in the mid-1980s with spin-offs,” Hale explained. “These were marginal branch lines that were either being sold off or abandoned by larger rail lines,” he added. “We operate to four miles west of Dodge City, with permission to go into Dodge and within four miles east of Boise City with permission to go into Boise City.

Also, at Satanta, Kan., we branch off and go almost into Springfield, Colo.,” Hale said. According to Hale, the small line has a very supportive and diverse customer base. “We haul grains, carbon black and plastics,” Hale said. “We use GT 30 locomotives and pull anywhere from 10 to 120 cars on a train,” Hale said. “The rail line owns some cars, but most are supplied by private companies,” Hale explained.

Hale cites the relationship between the rail line and its customer base, and the larger rail lines as the single most important thing and reason for its success. “We have an excellent working relationship with our customers; and with BNSF,” Hale said. “We like to think of ourselves as part of the community in places like Keyes. We try to be there 100 percent for them. We want to help all we can to help both parties, (community and railroad) to expand.

Asked if and when Nathaniel Energy begins operations at the old Federal Helium Plant four miles east of Keyes, if Cimarron Valley could accept the larger volume of business, Hale quickly answered, “Yes.” If all goes as presently planned for Nathaniel, Cimarron Valley might be expected to haul in tires for combustion; grain for conversion to Ethanol and tomatoes away from the proposed greenhouse sites.

“Our line can handle heavy axle traffic,” Hale said confidently. “Our people are what makes this thing work.”
We want each of our customers to know we are here for the long haul.”