My friend Dale Jacobson suggested that I supplement the article on the Cherokee Strip with the few images I have of the Blackwell Northern Gateway Railroad. Although obviously not part of the gigantic BNSF system, the BNGR does operate over a former AT&SF branch line that ran from Ponca City, Oklahoma, to Wellington, Kansas, providing a connection of sorts between Santa Fe's north/south mainline from Chicago to Texas, with the railroad's transcontinental mainline from Chicago to California. I doubt, however, that the line ever saw much use as a connector. In any event, the line from Blackwell to Ponca City was abandoned years ago. Well, AT&SF is close enough to BNSF for me. Plus, Blackwell was settled in 1893 as part of the Cherokee Strip Land Run. So I herein include a brief discussion of this tiny shortline.
That is all I know about this tiny operation. Dale and I visited it one fall day in 2017 and found no activity other than a single employee finishing paper work. At that time, the railroad leased three locomotives parked at various locations. One was in Blackwell, one in Hunnewell, and the third in South Haven, Kansas. None was operating.
|This unit was parked in Blackwell and looked as though it had been sitting, unused, for a few months. If you look closely underneath the cab window, you will see the symbol EWLX, which stands for "Everywhere West Leasing," a small company that leases old locomotives to short lines. According to the company's web site, which can be found at ewlocomotives.com, this unit is EWLX 1617, a GP-7, built for the CB&Q Railroad, then "passed through several owners before coming to Everywhere West Locomotive Leasing. When EWLL obtained the 1617 it was not in running condition due to numerous water leaks. EWLL went through and resealed all power assemblies and put the locomotive back in service on the Blackwell Northern Gateway Railroad, where it has been very reliable."
So there you have it -- my homage to the Blackwell Northern Gateway Railroad.