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.




BNSF predecessors helped promote national parks

It’s National Park Week!  Did you know one of BNSF’s predecessor railroads helped create a national park?

 

Great Northern Railway (GN) helped to promote legislation to designate Glacier National Park in 1910. In 1913 Glacier Park Company, a subsidiary of GN, built Glacier Park Lodge. The lodge was the first in a series of hotels that served visitors brought to the park by the railroad.

 

Glacier National Park was a major attraction given its central location to “Dude Ranch Country” in Montana and Canada. Travelers could board the renowned Empire Builder passenger train for a scenic ride along the southern border of the park. This brochure published by GN highlights the attractions of visiting dude ranches.  

 

Learn more about GN and Glacier National Park in this video

 

 

 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited the Two Medicine Valley in Glacier National Park on Aug. 5, 1934, when he gave a national radio address in which he expressed the wish that “every American, old and young, could have been with me today.”  

 

 

 

Another BNSF predecessor, Northern Pacific Railway (NP) played a major role in attracting early visitors to Yellowstone National Park. NP began rail service to Yellowstone in 1883 and shortly afterward began a “Wonderland” advertising campaign based on Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.” This photo shows one of the brochures produced as part of the advertising campaign. It included a fictional letter written by a grownup Alice traveling on an NP train. 

 

Northern Pacific Railway brochure photo courtesy of National Park Service.

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BNSF predecessors helped promote national parks

Industrial Products employees lend a helping hand to Fort Worth community organizations

BNSF employee Levi Graci at Tarrant County Animal Shelter

BNSF's Industrial Products business unit fanned out across Fort Worth, Texas to spend the day helping a good cause on April 21. The annual volunteer event, Day of Caring, brought 170 employees from all around BNSF's rail network to 10 community organizations that needed a helping hand. "This special day demonstrates BNSF's commitment to making a difference in our community," said Dave Garin, group vice president of Industrial Products. 

Employees spent the day working at Tarrant County Animal Shelter, Habitat for Humanity, the Northside Boys & Girls Club and other locations, completing jobs like caring for dogs, building benches, painting walls, planting flowers and trimming shrubs.

Jim Cherry and David Alegria build benches for a pavilion at Casa, Inc.

Jim Cherry and David Alegria build benches for a pavilion at Casa, Inc., a housing facility for low-income elderly and people with disabilities.

 Employees tackle an overgrown garden at the Northside Boys and Girls Club .

Employees tackle an overgrown garden at the Northside Boys and Girls Club before mulching and planting flowers.

Employees assemble prosthetic hands at Enabling the Future.

BNSF employees assemble prosthetic hands created with 3D printing technology at Enabling the Future.

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Industrial Products employees lend a helping hand to Fort Worth community organizations

BNSF honors Employees of the Year for 2014

BNSF's Safety Employees of the Year for 2014

BNSF recognized a special group of employees for their outstanding achievements in 2014 at an awards ceremony on April 13 in Fort Worth, Texas. BNSF’s annual Employees of the Year event recognizes employees who embody the company’s vision and values. Their achievements positively impact BNSF customers, fellow employees, owners and the communities served by BNSF. Of the 48,000 team members across the company some 100 employees received this special recognition.
 
“Our Employees of the Year recognition is a way to thank our people for truly exceptional efforts and results. I’m grateful for their hard work and dedication. From rendering aid in an emergency to implementing business processes that will forever make our railroad better, this distinctive group of employees deserves this special recognition and BNSF’s gratitude,” said Carl Ice, BNSF president and chief executive officer. “All of the men and women who work for BNSF do so with commitment and dedication. Every day, all year long, they bring incredible focus and perseverance to BNSF’s goal of serving our customers and delivering on the important role we play in moving our global economy forward.”
 
This year’s award recipients’ actions span a wide range of achievements and reflect valuable contributions to some of BNSF’s most important initiatives. Examples of their efforts include the reduction of rail congestion in heavily populated areas, the successful training of more than 800 employees in advanced track inspection that improves safety and the opening of the Big Lift Automotive Facility, which will help BNSF meet the increasing needs of automakers to get their vehicles to markets across the country.  
 
Pictured are the five Safety Employees of the Year: Montserrat Beamon, Gary Sage, Tessa Collins, Mike Warrington and Clintel Betts.
 
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BNSF honors Employees of the Year for 2014

CIO Jo-ann Olsovsky discusses building a diverse workforce in STEM fields at White House roundtable

BNSF Railway Vice President Technology Services and Chief Information Officer Jo-ann Olsovsky, center, participates in a roundtable discussion hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in Washington, D.C. on April 7.  Olsovsky is an advocate for encouraging minorities and women to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields. She described BNSF’s growing need for technically skilled employees and its efforts to hire a diverse technical workforce.  These include joint programs with schools and universities and Technology Awareness Day, an annual event on the BNSF headquarters campus designed to spark interest in technical careers among high school students in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

 

“The question persists: Where and how is America going to identify and prepare the talent to fill the need for technology based professions? Investing in and developing strong math and science talent in America’s youth is paramount to our ability to innovate for years to come,” Olsovsky said. “We understand the importance of finding answers to this question. From our perspective, those answers will help strengthen and advance America’s transportation industry as well as all others, which is vital to our nation’s global prominence. “

 

Later the same day, BNSF Mechanical Foreman Oscar Vazquez spoke to a group of students and educators from the Washington, D.C. area. Vazquez was one of four resourceful high school students who won a 2004 national underwater robotics competition against the odds, beating out major universities like Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The group was treated to a screening of Underwater Dreams, a documentary film about the competition. The story is also retold in the feature film Spare Parts, starring George Lopez and Jamie Lee Curtis, released in January.

BNSF employee Oscar Vazquez speaks to students and educators from the Washington, D.C. area at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on April 7.

BNSF Vice President Technology Services and Chief Information Officer Jo-ann Olsovsky listens during discussions at the Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C.

From left to right, Alejandra Ceja, executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics; Richard Voyles, assistant director for Robotics and Cyber-Physical Systems, Office of Science and Technology Policy; Oscar Vazquez, mechanical foreman at BNSF Railway; and Joe Faust, regional public affairs director at BNSF Railway.

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CIO Jo-ann Olsovsky discusses building a diverse workforce in STEM fields at White House roundtable

A&P roundhouse at Needles, California

The Atlantic & Pacific Railroad (A&P) was incorporated in 1866 and authorized by Congress to construct a railroad between Springfield, Mo., and the Pacific. After building west from Springfield, the railroad would enter what is now Oklahoma, then continue to the Colorado River at Needles, Calif., where it would meet the Southern Pacific. A&P completed only 327 miles of track from Missouri into Oklahoma before a financial panic in 1873 put a halt to their transcontinental plans. 

 

The owners of A&P incorporated the Saint-Louis and San Francisco Railway (Frisco) in 1876. In the 1880s, the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway (ATSF) and Frisco financed A&P’s stalled expansion of tracks westward from Albuquerque, N.M., in order to establish a direct route to California. Frisco continued to operate the central division in Oklahoma, while ATSF operated the westward division. 

 

A&P entered Needles on Aug. 3, 1883, and soon built a roundhouse to service its engines. The photo above, taken in 1890, shows the A&P roundhouse in Needles. Roundhouses featured a semicircle design because early steam locomotives did not function well going in reverse. Instead, a turntable turned the locomotive around and then it was pulled into a stall for maintenance work. The square building to the left of the roundhouse is the water tank.

 

In 1884, A&P gained the Mojave Division and trackage rights over Southern Pacific to San Francisco. The transcontinental A&P line was never completed due to its continued financial troubles. Instead, its two detached segments included one connecting St. Louis to Tulsa and one that connected Albuquerque to San Francisco. A&P was dissolved in 1897. Its Western Division in New Mexico and California was incorporated into ATSF, and A&P’s Central Division in Missouri and Oklahoma became part of the Frisco.

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A&P roundhouse at Needles, California

Great Northern in Missouri River Canyon

James J. Hill, George Stephen, Donald A. Smith, Norman W. Kittson – known as “the associates” – with the support of John S. Kennedy and Company, organized the St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba Railway (SPM&M) in 1879.  The railway was formed upon the acquisition of the St. Paul & Pacific Railroad, which had 565 miles of completed track and a total of 667 miles under construction in Minnesota. James J. Hill became general manager of the railway and was instrumental in the creation of a transcontinental railroad.

 

SPM&M completed construction from St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minn., to several miles west of Minot, N.D., in 1886. Hill formed the Montana Central Railway in 1886 to construct a line connecting Havre, Great Falls and Helena with the point several miles west of Minot. This section of track was known as the Montana Extension. 

 

Montana Central completed the last section of the 643-mile line between Minot, N.D. and Helena in 1887. The line was completed in just one year, an impressive feat considering its great distance. 

 

Initial grading and surveys of the 643-mile line began in 1886. Construction began on April 2, 1887, and the line reached Helena on November 18 that same year. Eight thousand men and 3,300 teams of horses worked on the grading, and 225 teams and 650 men completed the timber and track laying. On August 11, workers laid 8.2 miles of track, setting a record for the longest section of track laid on the Montana Extension in a single day. SPM&M purchased the Montana Central in 1888, formally connecting the Montana Extension with SPM&M’s existing track.

 

The Great Northern Railway Company (GN) was incorporated in 1889 and acquired SPM&M in 1907. This photo shows a steam locomotive leading a GN passenger train through the Missouri River Canyon, located between Great Falls and Helena, Mont., in 1910. This section of track was part of the Montana Extension and provided scenic views of the rugged Montana terrain. GN operated the line between 1907 and 1970, when it merged with Burlington Northern. BNSF continues operations in Montana, and many of its routes follow trails blazed by the original SPM&M and GN.

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Great Northern in Missouri River Canyon