The Nebraska Central Railroad Co. (NCRC) has reached its 20th anniversary and plans to hold a series of celebratory activities Sept. 15 in Norfolk, Neb.
The railroad's Ord and Brainard lines were chartered in 1876, followed by the Columbus line and mainlines in 1879. Eventually, all the lines merged into Union Pacific Railroad in 1889. NCRC Chief Executive Officer Richard Bertel leased the railroad from UP in June 1993 and launched the short line with about 20 employees.
In 1996, Bertel extended the NCRC by leasing additional track from UP in and through Norfolk that formerly was owned by the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad.
Today, the short line employs more than 100 and averages more than 130,000 cars interchanged annually. The railroad's largest commodity hauled by volume is corn, followed by sand, ethanol, and scrap and steel manufactured products.
Owned by Rio Grande Pacific Corp., NCRC operates 340 track miles in the central portion of Nebraska from Columbus to Grand Island. The short line's routes include five former UP branch lines and one former BNSF Railway Co. branch. NCRC also retains 70 miles of trackage rights on UP's mainline between North Platte and Omaha, Neb.
The short line created a 20th anniversary seal to commemorate the milestone.
"As we move forward with our vision of providing excellent service for our customers and the community, we need to remember where we have been," said Bertel in a press release.
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