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Blair Kooistra's Cimarron Valley Photo Gallery

Under the Weather

Blair Kooistra's Cimarron Valley photo gallery


Cimarron Valley RR westbound, west of Dodge City

Dodge City Turn westbound, approximately 8 miles out of Dodge, en route back to Satanta, KS, with 23 cars behind CVRR 3020 and SWRR 28. May 9, 2000.

Cimarron Valley Railroad: High-plains GP30s

In the wake of branchline-pruning following the 1996 Burlington Northern Santa Fe merger, the Cimarron Valley Railroad was created, operated by the Western Group of railroads (which includes the Southwestern Railroad in New Mexico and the Texas panhandle and the Arizona Central shortlines). Operating between Dodge City, Kansas and Boise City, Oklahoma (the former Santa Fe C.V. District) and Satanta, KS and Springfield, Colorado (the former Manter district), the CVRR is largely a granger operation, busiest during summer's wheat harvest, most of which moves to BNSF interchange at Boise City. Agricultural traffic prevails: covered hoppers for the many elevators on line; tank cars of agricultural fertilizer; flat cars of farm implements. The Manter district is largely inactive west of Ulysses, KS, where the large Columbian Carbon Black manufacturing facility keeps a daily switch job out of Satanta busy. Satanta is the railroad's operational hub, and features a new steel engine house. The usual operating scheme finds turns originating there bound to and from Boise City, Ulysses and Dodge City. The appeal of "high plains" railroading is subtle: there's no killer grades or huge trestles or numerous s-curves to burn film on--just lots of farm equipment trackside, many grain elevators to serve as backdrops, and wide vistas of open wheat fields. The motive power fan will note that CVRR's entire roster is second-hand GP30s from the Rio Grande; they look great in their "Western Group" family color of medium blue. On the day I took these photos, four ex-D&RGW GP30s were on the property, along with the Southwestern Railroad 28 (an ex-Phelps Dodge locomotive of the same number), which trailed on the Dodge City turn's return trip. Management and crews of the CVRR are quite friendly and good with information. A call to (316) 649-3280 ahead of time will save you a bit of driving.

click on photographs for larger image!!!

May 9, 2000: an afternoon following the CVRR's Dodge City Turn back to Satanta from Dodge City. At 6pm, the 23 car train departed the BNSF's yard toward the C.V. District, past the Santa Fe brick depot. . . CVR at Dodge City
. . . shortly afterwards, CVRR 3020 and SWRR 28 turn the train southward, headed toward the Arkansas River bridge, leaving large grain elevators behind. . .  CVR 3020 leaving Dodge City
. . . approximately 45 minutes later, the train passes the elevator and seed storage bins in Ensign. . . CVR at Ensign
. . .and outside of town, skirts dormant corn fields and rolling sprinklers. . . CVR westbound passes irrigation equipment
. .  .the concrete Co-Op grain elevators at Haggard tower over the matched GP30 set (this is a personal favorite location of mine, simply for the namesake coincidence with one of my favorite musicians!). . . CVR at Haggard
. . . then the train passes through Copeland, past the classic Santa Fe-style station signs. . . CVR at Copeland, KS
. . . at  times, the CVRR's pace is less than swift--the train rarely exceeds 25mph, which gave me a chance to get ahead of the train once more a 1/2 mile west of the Haggard elevators for this shot. Notice the SWRR 28 is making all the smoke this day--the former Rio Grande 3020 is running with a clean stack (D&RGW always did take great care of their locomotives). . . . CVR west of Haggard
. . . the turn crosses Crooked Creek bridge, the largest such structure on the eastern half of the old C.V. Looks like the Santa Fe rebuilt this bridge using concrete beams and piers. While I was photographing the train, the Highway Patrol, on the other side of the tracks, was curious about my car parked along the highway. This elicited a good laugh from the train crew. . . . CVR westbound crosses Crooked Creek Bridge

rolling cow billboard, Dodge City, KS

The plains, despite their flat, boring geographical nature, are filled with whimsey--where else but Dodge City are you going to find a large, four-wheeled cow billboard for rent--at $200 a week! A bargain? You better have a pretty good message for all that moo-lah. . .

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All photographs this page Copyright 2000 by Blair E. Kooistra. All rights reserved