Welcome to Friends of BNSF!

If any of the following describes you, then this might be just the website for you:

  • You want to know more about how BNSF contributes to our way of life;
  • You or a family member works at BNSF;
  • You or a family member has retired from BNSF or one of its predecessor companies;
  • You want to explore the rich history of BNSF;
  • Or, you just flat out love trains!

From historic photos and videos to a library of resources about BNSF to free downloadables like wallpaper and ringtones, we've got plenty for you to check out. Take a look at the sample stories below. Then, join the site.

Past to present: Chicago, Ill. and BNSF

Photograph by Clarke Sutphin, BNSF Railway.

Railroads were a relatively new phenomenon in the 1840s when the people of Aurora, Illinois were seeking a means to travel and ship goods to the flourishing city of Chicago. Already well on its way to becoming the epicenter of North American rail transport, Chicago’s infrastructure provided a valuable link to markets in the East. In 1849 the Illinois legislature granted a charter to the Aurora Branch Railroad to build a connection between the two cities. The Galena & Chicago Union Railroad (G&CU) had completed its track from Chicago to Turner Junction (now West Chicago) the year before. The Aurora Branch’s charter authorized them to connect with any other railroad as they saw fit, and so they built north through Batavia to Turner Junction in order to connect with G&CU.

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Past to present: Chicago, Ill. and BNSF

Freight by rail with BNSF: A great choice on Earth Day and every day

BNSF train in Montana

BNSF is one of the most sustainable companies in the most sustainable mode of surface transportation. Choosing rail for freight transportation reduces the country’s overall emissions and carbon footprint. Let’s take a look at five reasons why moving freight by rail with BNSF is a great idea for Earth Day and every day.

  • A BNSF train can move one ton of freight 500 miles on a single gallon of diesel fuel.
  • One intermodal train takes the equivalent of 280 truckloads off the highways, easing congestion and reducing emissions.
  • Rail, which carries more than 40 percent of U.S. freight, accounts for only 2.3 percent of all transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Every year, the efficiency of BNSF trains reduces our customers’ emissions by over 30 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. This is equivalent to taking six million passenger vehicles off the road annually.
  • BNSF rail shipments take the place of more than 15 million long-haul truck trips each year. The resulting reduction in fuel consumption is the equivalent of saving 30 gallons of fuel for each of the 115 million households in the United States.

Visit http://bit.ly/cJanFS for more about BNSF and sustainability.

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Freight by rail with BNSF: A great choice on Earth Day and every day

BNSF sponsors 2014 San Bernardino Railroad Days


BNSF Railway sponsored this year’s San Bernardino Railroad Days on April 12 and 13 and provided an Ultra-Low Emissions switching locomotive for the public to view. The steam locomotive Santa Fe No. 3751 was also on hand after bringing more than 200 passengers from Los Angeles Union Station to attend the event, which took place at the San Bernardino History and Railroad Museum.

More than a dozen BNSF employees from several departments took part in supporting the event; some are pictured here.

One of several BNSF booths at the event demonstrated how railroad crossing signals work.

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BNSF sponsors 2014 San Bernardino Railroad Days

Past to present: Minot, ND and BNSF

Minot, North Dakota is a railroad town in the truest sense of the term. Now the fourth largest city in North Dakota with a population of more than 40,000, “The Magic City” began as a tent city of less than 600 railroad workers. Officially established in 1887, the city’s origin goes back further to a brutally cold winter, a defunct railroad and a man who saw potential where others saw only ruin.

In the 1880s James J. Hill’s St. Paul & Pacific Railroad (SP&P) was pushing through Minnesota and into Dakota Territory. Hill saw colonization as the key to rapid westward expansion. The railroad would lay tracks first and then work doggedly to promote settlement in the surrounding area.

By October 1886 the main line reached the Gassman Coulee. Crossing the valley would require the construction of an extensive trestle. Winter was setting in and progress was slow and difficult on the frozen plain. The decision was made to halt construction until the dead of winter had passed. A tent city sprang up overnight. The makeshift town came to be known as “The Magic City” because it appeared so suddenly, as if by magic. Within five months the population had increased from less than 600 to more than 5,000, adding validity to its moniker.

The railroad approached homesteader Erik Ramstad, who had claimed 160 acres on both sides of the Souris River in 1883, about officially establishing a town on his land. Ramstad, who would later become one of the city’s first leaders, agreed to relinquish 40 acres south of the Souris to the now renamed St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba Railway Company (SPM&M). After reaching an agreement with Ramstad, Hill obtained a government scrip laying claim to an additional 40 acres immediately south of Ramstad’s claim. On June 28, 1887, those 80 acres officially became the city of Minot.

Hill named the city Minot after Henry D. Minot an investor, director and executive of the railroad whose analytical and organizational skills were a great aid to Hill’s rapid expansion of the railroad. Minot was also vice president of the Eastern Minnesota Railway Company, a company formed by Hill. Unfortunately, Minot would be connected with the city by name only. He was killed in a train crash in Pennsylvania on November 14, 1890, at the age of 31. Minot had attended Harvard College, where he became friends with classmate Theodore Roosevelt due to a mutual interest in ornithology. Hill could have used the help of a mutual friend at the turn of the century when “The Trust Buster” was thwarting Hill’s attempts to consolidate the Great Northern, Northern Pacific and Chicago, Burlington & Quincy railroads.

SPM&M completed the Gassman Coulee Trestle on May 1, 1887, setting the stage for the railroad to expand west at a record pace. Hill spent the winter months stockpiling supplies for the western surge. With The Magic City serving as its base of operations, SPM&M laid 545 miles of track from Minot to Great Falls, Montana Territory, between April and mid-October 1887. By November, Hill’s 8,000 men and 3,300 teams had laid 641.5 miles of track between Minot and Helena, Mont. No other railroad had ever laid that much rail in one season.

Upgrades to the railroad in the Minot area continued after Hill’s Great Northern (GN) Railway leased the SPM&M in 1890. A new steel bridge across Gassman Coulee, still in use by BNSF today, was completed in 1898. The cutoff between Fargo and Surrey, just east of Minot, was completed in 1912, shortening GN’s transcontinental line by 60 miles. In the 1920s, new signals were installed through Minot, making rail transportation even safer.

James Hill began his great adventure more than a century ago. He knew that the key to a successful railway was to develop the land along the tracks, to be mindful of the people who provided cargo for his trains, and to collaborate with his customers to ensure mutually beneficial relationships. Minot, The Magic City, is a prime example of just how right he was. BNSF is proud to follow in Hill’s footsteps.

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Past to present: Minot, ND and BNSF

A day on the rails with Tie Production Gang 06

Maintaining more than 32,000 route miles of track is no simple task. BNSF assigns scores of Engineering work gangs to projects based on ongoing maintenance and expansion plans. There are section gangs headquartered in specific locations who handle projects within their assigned territory and production gangs that travel systemwide to work on larger projects. These system gangs specialize in tie production, rail production, undercutting and concrete tie production. BNSF’s 11 tie production gangs play a key role in installing and replacing more than 3 million ties a year. One team that has consistently performed their work safely and productively is TP-06. Here is their story.

Tie Production Gang 06 (TP-06) is unfazed by the summer sun as they work their way north from milepost 133.9 on the Spanish Peaks Subdivision near Pueblo, Colo. It’s early June and the 52 workers started with a job safety briefing at 5:30 a.m. Their goal today is to replace 1,560 ties.

The members of TP-06 listen and take notes as Roadmaster Chris Jennings briefs them on the day’s plan.

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A day on the rails with Tie Production Gang 06