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Keokuk Junction, Burlington Junction founder Warfield passes away


On Feb. 22, John Warfield, founder of the Keokuk Junction and Burlington Junction railways, died while vacationing in Norway, according to the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA). He was 62.

After obtaining a master’s degree from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, Warfield held various positions in the rail industry during the late 1960s, including stints at the Frisco Railroad, Southern Railway and Rock Island Railroad. He later formed Keokuk Junction Railway from remnants of the Rock Island Railroad’s Keokuk, Iowa, operations — the first of several “entrepreneurial” short lines created as a result of the Staggers Act, according to ASLRRA.

From 1980 until 1996 — when he sold Keokuk Junction to Pioneer RailCorp. and retired — Warfield served as the short line’s chairman and president. He also founded and was an initial owner of the Burlington Junction Railway, and served on ASLRRA’s board.

“John cared deeply about the industry and the people who worked in it,” ASLRRA officials said in the association’s March 6 newsletter.

Warfield also played a role in restoring Pullman passenger car “Chief Keocuck” and the Keokuk Union Depot, which later was placed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks, and establishing the Trans-Mississippi Trolley to promote Keokuk as a tourist destination.

Preceded in death by his parents and a stepmother, Warfield has no survivors.