American freight railroads connect farmers, manufacturers and businesses to markets from coast to coast and beyond. In fact, many American states have deep roots in freight rail history, helping to build the nation we know today. There are also some fun — and surprising — facts about each state you may not know. Explore more below and make sure to tweet support for your own home!
Freight Rail in Your State: Did You Know?
Alabama is sweet home to 26 railroads and 3,227 miles of rail. And did you know that “Sweet Home, AL” is actually an actual historic house in the city of Bessemer?
Did you know that dog sleds use to transport freight and mail across much of Alaska? Today, dogs stick to mushing — Alaska’s official state sport — while freight railroads move commodities like stone, sand and gravel.
In the late 1800s, railroads transformed Arizona more than any other technological advancement. Trains allowed ranchers to easily move livestock & miners to ship ore. Today, intermodal and metallic ores comprise the majority of freight shipments beginning in Arizona.
Bling, bling! 💍 Diamonds were first discovered in Arkansas in 1906. It’s no surprise then that nonmetallic minerals and primary metals make up the majority of freight rail shipments beginning in “The Natural State.”
Wetsuits, skateboards, Barbie, Apple products and Frisbee were all invented in California. And freight rail helps move products like these through intermodal transportation, which makes up the majority of freight rail shipments beginning in California.
Railroads and Colorado grew up together as towns, cities and businesses sprouted and thrived along the first railroads centuries ago. Today, 14 railroads are critical to The Centennial State
West Hartford, Connecticut is the birthplace of Noah Webster, the author of the first dictionary published in 1807. F is for freight rail, the definition of a safe, affordable and efficient transportation solution.
The Delmarva chicken community raised 567 million chickens in 2021. Did you know that freight rail is a critical connector for Delaware’s thriving poultry industry?
District of Columbia
Presidents as far back as Andrew Jackson have traveled and campaigned by rail. Passenger service continues to thrive in the District of Columbia, while freight tracks running through the city are vital to the East Coast rail network.
Florida produced over 67 million boxes of oranges in 2020. 🍊 That’s a lot of juice! Good thing the Tropicana “Juice Train,” cooled to 34 degrees 🥶, carries juice from more than 400 Florida groves to your glass.
Georgia has the most extensive rail network and the largest intermodal hub in the southeast, with intermodal shipments and nonmetallic minerals the majority of rail shipments beginning in the Peach State.
Idaho grows nearly 1/3 of America’s potatoes and is home to nearly 72 types of precious stones. It’s no wonder the top commodities railroads move out of the state are food products and non-metallic minerals!
In Carl Sandburg’s ode to Chicago, Illinois, he says the city is the “hog butcher for the world, toolmaker, stacker of wheat; player with railroads and the nation’s freight handle.” Today, Chicago is still the nation’s busiest rail hub and the beating heart of the rail network.
Did you know that Indiana’s Elkhart County is known as the “RV Manufacturing Capital of the World”? Indiana’s location at the “Crossroads of America” powers manufacturers. So do the state’s 43 railroads that deliver raw materials to businesses and finished RVs to markets near and far.
Iowa produces more corn than any other state – and even more than some whole countries! It makes sense then that food products are a leading commodity freight railroads move out of the Hawkeye state. Hey, pass the popcorn! 🍿
In a year, Kansas grows enough wheat to bake 36 billion loaves of bread — more than anywhere else in the nation! And freight rail is there to move that wheat to market. In 2019 alone, railroads moved 138,900 carloads of farm products out of The Wheat State.
Kentucky is home to the Horse Capital of the World in Lexington. The Iron Horse is another Kentucky hallmark, critical to its status as the number one producer of cars, light trucks and SUVs. Did you know that freight railroads move 75% of new cars purchased in the U.S.?
You might think Mardi Gras when you think of The Pelican State. But did you know that chemicals are used to create party supplies? The chemical industry provides about 1/3 of all of the industrial activity in Louisiana. Chemicals also make up the majority of freight rail shipments beginning in the state.
You might think 🦞 when you think Maine — but 90% of The Pine Tree State is forested, which makes it one of the world’s best paper producers. Six freight railroads moved 16,500 carloads of pulp and paper out of Maine in 2019 alone.
The nation’s first common-carrier railroad, the B&O, had its start in downtown Baltimore. Today, intermodal shipments comprise the majority of freight rail shipments beginning in Maryland with nine railroads operating in the state.
Boston area drivers sat in 50 hours of traffic in 2020 on average. It’s a good thing one freight train can take hundreds of trucks off the road. Massachusett’s freight rail corridor paralleling Interstate 90 & Route 495 connects MA businesses while cutting down on traffic and pollution.
Did you know that Michigan’s leading industry use to be lumber? The state’s economy was tied to the manufacture of carriages and wagons, which gave way to the automobile. Today, freight trains move 75% of the new cars and light trucks purchased in the U.S.
Railroads’ support for Minnesota agriculture, forestry and mining industries adds an estimated $2,000 to the average Minnesotan’s income. That means more shopping at Mall Of America, the nation’s largest mall located in Bloomington, MN. Most consumer goods found in malls move by intermodal rail.
Mississippi’s rail history dates back to 1835 when the West Feliciana Railroad began operations hauling cotton. Today, 24 freight railroads operate over 2,507 miles of track and chemicals are the largest commodity to originate in the state.
Freight railroads sure make a good showing in the Show-Me state! 👀 With Kansas City and St. Louis ranked as the second and third largest rail transportation centers in the nation, Missouri is truly at the crossroads of America’s rail network.
Montana’s population is forecasted to grow by more than 60% between 2005 and 2030. Freight rail already plays a lead role in transporting Montana minerals, ores and grain to global markets and it will continue to be critical as the state accommodates future growth.
Nebraska uses the most amount of land to produce corn and livestock than any other state in the U.S. It’s no surprise that nearly 181,000 carloads of farm products originated in The Cornhusker State in 2019 alone!
Nevada led the nation in 2021 for GDP growth. With the assistance of freight railroads, this trend is poised to continue. Freight rail connections are helping the Silver State attract new warehousing, distribution and manufacturing operations seeking a West Coast hub.
The very first snowmobile was invented in West Ossipee, New Hampshire as a way to keep moving through snowy weather. You’ll find something else plowing through summer’s heat and winter’s cold in The Granite State — ten freight railroads delivering for the local economy.
The phonograph, light bulb and motion picture projector were all invented in the Thomas Edison lab in New Jersey. Today, intermodal is the largest type of freight trains move out of the state — and those containers include headphones, lamps and TVs!
Every October, more than 500 hot air balloons take to the sky during the Albuquerque, New Mexico Balloon Fiesta. What powers those balloons? Liquid propane gas, which comes from crude oil — one of the biggest commodities railroads move out of New Mexico.
From Long Island to Western New York and the North Country, New York’s 41 freight railroads support in-state manufacturers and producers, driving economic opportunity for all New Yorkers. (Not to mention the 3.7 million trucks they replace on New York roads every year!)
Did you know Vicks VapoRub, Pepsi and Texas Pete’s Hot Sauce were all invented in The Tar Heel State? Intermodal, which is the largest type of freight rail shipments coming out of North Carolina, help move consumer products like these to market.
North Dakota farmland would cover over 12 million city blocks and most of the pasta in America is made from North Dakota drum wheat. How does that wheat get to market? With the help of freight railroads!
Ohio has the third largest rail network by track miles, the second-highest number of intermodal terminals in the nation and is home to one of the highest concentrations of rail supply companies. Oh, hi rail! 👋
Oklahoma is the only state that produces iodine, which is used in everything from pharmaceuticals and disinfectants to animal feed supplements and printing inks. Freight railroads help move this commodity to market every year.
One train can carry as much as several hundred trucks. It would have taken approximately three million additional trucks to handle the 54.7 million tons of freight that moved by rail in Oregon in 2019.
About 200 years ago, a quarry railway in Delaware County helped freight rail become the engine that made Pennsylvania an industrial giant in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today’s freight railroads continue fueling economic growth, with 61 railroads operating over 5,180 miles through Pennsylvania.
Did you know that The White Horse Tavern — located in Rhode Island — is the oldest operating restaurant in America? Freight rail is pretty historic in the state too, dating back to 1831 when the Boston & Providence Railroad was chartered to connect its namesake cities. Today, railroads continue to deliver for the Ocean State.
South Carolina Ports have seen record volumes in early 2022. Good thing they utilize South Carolina’s ten different freight railroads to reach markets near and far. These rail movements take 3.6 million truckloads off public roads every year.
Moving freight by rail in The Mount Rushmore State prevented 1.46 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of taking 287,000 cars off South Dakota’s roads, in 2019 alone. 😲
The music industry is big in Tennessee. From guitars to sound equipment, freight rail moves what musicians need to make us all move!
The first 7-11 opened in Dallas, Texas in 1827. It was the first convenience store in the U.S. What helps keep the shelves stocked in convenience stores across The Lone Star State? The 54 railroads that move intermodal containers every day.
In May of 1869, the “golden spike” was driven at Promontory Summit, Utah to commemorate the completion of the first transcontinental railroad. Today, the Beehive State is now a major mid-continent staging area for goods destined to reach consumers all across America.
Vermont is the largest producer of maple syrup in the country, producing 35% of the total market supply. Freight railroads are a vital transportation partner to get that syrup to market.
Virginia has the second-highest concentration of tech workers of any state in the U.S. You know what else is techie? The freight rail industry.; railroads use Big Data and smart computer systems to keep the network safe and efficient.
With a whopping 75 ports, nearly 20% of Washington’s economy is tied to international trade. The state’s 30 railroads and 3,000 miles of rail track are critical corridors for this freight, making Washington manufacturers, producers and communities more prosperous.
Hear that? It’s a train horn calling out in the mountains of West Virginia. Yep, that sound is almost heaven for us railroaders! Railroads built West Virginia and today 11 railroads operate over 2,141 miles in The Mountain State.
Wisconsin’s motto is “Forward.” That’s the direction freight rail is always moving! With manufacturing and agriculture at the heart of The Badger State’s vibrant economy, freight railroads are critical to getting goods and raw materials to market every day.
Wyoming is an energy powerhouse in the U.S. Railroads help energize Wyoming’s economy by delivering these resources necessary for powering homes 🏠 schools 🏫 and businesses 🏢. Each rail car carries enough coal to power 19 homes for an entire year!