Skip to main content

Recently, I remembered seeing a map in Trains Magazine. It showed which railroad had the most track in each US state - for example, Norfolk Southern was said to have the most track in Ohio, CSX in Virginia, UP in Colorado, BNSF in Arizona, etc.

I was wondering if anyone could maybe direct me to where I could find this same map online.

Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

The best railroad map is already in your pocket. On your phone. Google Earth and Google Maps. Before I go out rail fanning I print off a map on paper and take it with me. When I am in the field I use my phone to check my location with Google Earth.

I can see everything around my present location. This helps me with navigating rail yards . Below is a sample.

1 CN Yard Google Earth

CN Yard - Pontiac, Michigan

2 CN Yard Google Earth

Close-up as seen on a phone or iPad.

Hope this helps. Gary 🚂


Images (2)
  • 1 CN Yard Google Earth
  • 2 CN Yard Google Earth

Last night I dug into the US Dept of Transportation website and found lots of numbers - then realized this morning that the OP question was different than the one I was trying to answer ...!  (so if the OP is willing to reframe his question, here's the answer... actually, I think there may be mileage data by railroad hiding in the DoT website - I didn't go back to try to find it).

In the course of doing this, I stumbled upon a couple of interesting maps and links to data sets - the first is this map showing the changes in the Amtrak routes - 1971 vs 2021  It doesn't show clearly what, if any routes, had been added - though you can figure out what routes got changed in the intervening 50 years.  For example, the California Zephyr used to go to Denver, then up to Cheyenne and then west to SLC -- now it goes west out of Denver, through Grand Junction and then up to SLC via the Price River Canyon.  As a result, Cheyenne - a major stop for UP passenger trains pre 1971 - no longer has rail passenger service.

Another website is interactive and shows a lot of transportation data for each state, including major freight commerce flows in and out of the state, rail and highway fatalities, etc., here:

Finally, I've attached two pdf files that show freight rail mileage by state (not further broken down by railroad corporation) - the website doesn't say explicitly that these data are for all freight rail, not just the class 1 RRs, but I think that is the case (source is  The first pdf is an alphabetical list of the states with miles shown for six years (data for earlier years are also available on the website).  The second pdf shows those data sorted for the year 2019, first ordered by raw miles.  So Texas comes out on top with over 10k miles (you might have expected that the largest states would have the most miles - though the next several states in that ordered list, IL, OH and PA, are medium size in terms of land area.  The next set of columns shows what happens if one 'normalizes' the mileage by the size of the state (essentially rail miles divided by the land area of the state) - in this case, DC comes out on top, followed by NJ, OH and MA.  TX is 35th in this list.  Lastly, I looked at the change in freight rail mileage comparing 2019 (most recent compilation) with 2010) -- RI has had the biggest change - almost a factor of four increase (increase in an otherwise very small number of total miles) - while DC had the largest decrease in miles (again a small number of total miles).

There are a number of ways to look at these data - one that occurs to me but I didn't try would be to look at freight miles normalized by the cost/value of the goods being transported.  Dunno if those numbers are hiding in the DoT data bases.  This site is not the most user friendly in terms of either navigation or extracting useful data into a spreadsheet.  A more skilled user might be able to suss it out better than I.


Add Reply

OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
Link copied to your clipboard.