Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Today's Train of Thought- A Tangled Webb, May 20, 2014

Today's Train of thought takes us to the Sooner State and one of WATCO's earlier ventures in the shortline business- the 275-mile Stillwater Central.

As a state, Oklahoma is cris-crossed with the rails of numerous fallen flags such as Missouri Pacific, Katy, Santa Fe, Rock Island and the Frisco. With each line's bankruptcy or absorption into a larger railway much of the trackage either abandoned outright or spun off to smaller regional or shortline railroads such as Farm Rail, Cimarron Valley, Kiamichi Railroad, Wichita, Tillman & Jackson or the Arkansas-Oklahoma railroad.

The Stillwater Central is fairly new- although it's fairly short distance from one of WATCO's earliest shortline rail ventures, the South Kansas & Oklahoma railroad. In 1998, the state of Oklahoma owned the ex-Frisco line between Sapulpa and Midwest City, OK to Kansas-based WATCO, who formed the Stillwater Central. A few years later, the WATCO outfit entered into a lease agreement with BNSF over 120 miles of track between Wheatland and Long, OK, with trackage rights into Oklahoma City proper.

Besides agricultural products, the Stillwater Central has also been kept busy with hauling oil from the Anadarko Basin and Bakken Shale handed off by the BNSF to Oklahoma terminals and refineries in recent years, pooling BNSF power in most instances. The Stillwater Central also garnered 2010 Shortline of the Year honors from BNSF.

Here, rrpicturearchives.net contributor SP Grabman caught Webb Asset Management (WAMX) SD50 #5112 leading a mixed bag of Helm Leasing and GATX SD40s as it heads eastbound with the Eagle turn at Lawton, OK in September 2008. By 2013, the #5112 left the property and was shipped to Larry's Truck and Electric in Ohio where it was stripped of usable parts. Currently the line is using mostly former Burlington Northern SD40-2s marked for Webb Asset management and some locomotives from other WATCO properties.

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