Rapid City Pierre and Eastern Railroad summary
The Rapid City Pierre and Eastern Railroad (RCPE) is a regional railroad that operates across South Dakota. It’s owned by Genesee and Wyoming Incorporated. Operating 743 miles of standard-gauge tracks, the RCPE spans the Mount Rushmore State east to west from western Minnesota to northeastern Wyoming and northwestern Nebraska.
The Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern has seen its fair share of ownership changes over the years. Beginning in 1867, the line was once part of the Winona & St. Peter Railroad running west from Mankato, Minn., before being purchased by the Chicago & North Western Railroad. Over the next 40 years, extensions were made as far as Rapid City, S.D. The line was sold off to local investors, and the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern was formed in 1986. The Canadian Pacific Railway purchased the DM&E in 2007 and retained ownership until putting the west end of the railroad on the block in 2012. Genesee and Wyoming became the successful bidder in 2014, and set forth operating the renamed Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern Railroad from Tracy, Minn., to Colony, Wyo.
Operations under the Genesee and Wyoming have put the Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern Railroad in a position of economic growth. The railroad hauls 60% agricultural products and 25% minerals, mainly bentonite. The 423-mile main line between Tracy and Rapid City provides freight traffic for grain operations, fertilizer distribution facilities, ethanol plants, soybean processors, aggregate customers, lumber yards, and scrap facilities. The west end of the RCPE serves the bentonite plants and cement makers.
As a subsidiary to the Genesee and Wyoming, the Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern use the company’s roster pool of various EMD diesel locomotives. The six-axle units such as the SD40-2s are the most common motive power on the railroad to reserve the G&W’s four-axles for smaller short lines.
Multiple interchanges are made with the BNSF Railway at Wolsey, S.D., Crawford, Neb., and Florence, Minn. The RCPE has trackage rights on the Canadian Pacific Railway at Tracy to reach the Union Pacific Railroad’s interchange at Mankato.
Read more about the Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern in Trains’ April 2015 issue.