Wichita Tillman and Jackson Railway Company summary
The Wichita Tillman and Jackson Railway Company (WTJR) is a short line railroad that operates along the Red River in south Oklahoma and north Texas. It’s owned by the Rio Grande Pacific Corporation, a privately held holding company that specializes in shortline railroading. The railroad serves the wheat-growing regions of Cotton, Tillman and Jackson counties, with 75 miles of standard-gauge track between Wichita Falls, Texas, and Altus, Okla.
The line of the Wichita, Tillman and Jackson Railway was built in 1905 as the Wichita Falls and Northwestern Railway. An extension was made further west and eventually ended at Forgan, Okla. Control of the railroad was quickly transferred to the Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad. By the 1960s, the ex-MKT “Northwestern” line was facing cuts with the Wichita Falls-Altus section being spared for wheat shippers. The State of Oklahoma purchased the line, and the Rio Grande Pacific began operations as the Wichita, Tillman and Jackson Railway on January 14, 1991.
Predominately grain, chemicals and agricultural products make up the principal commodities in the freight traffic on the Wichita, Tillman and Jackson Railway. Late May is when the operation picks up dramatically as long cuts of empty covered hoppers arrive at the Wichita Falls yard for positioning in anticipation for the wheat harvest season. Throughout the month of June, empty cars are quickly spotted to satisfy grain elevator orders. Loaded cars must be moved in a timely manner to make room for more empties on the short elevator tracks. Once loaded, the hoppers head back to Wichita Falls and spaced evenly so they don’t arrive all at once and clog the yard at the Union Pacific Railroad’s interchange.
The motive power on the Wichita, Tillman and Jackson Railway is a fleet of EMD GP7 diesel locomotives, mostly used during the June harvest season. They’re part of the Rio Grande Pacific’s roster pool.
Wichita Falls serves as the interchange for handling the wheat to the Union Pacific and BNSF Railway. The UP utilizes trackage rights over BNSF to make the connection with the WTJR. The short line also interchanges with BNSF, Farmrail Corporation and the Stillwater Central Railroad in Altus; and the Grainbelt Corporation in Frederick, Okla.
Read more about the Wichita, Tillman and Jackson Railway Company in Trains’ June 2010 issue.