October 31, 2012 Travis Dewitz

369 Railroading and Coal Powder River Basin Photographs

369Powder River Basin Coal Train Silloutte
One of my favorite places to be is the expense of Wyoming’s landscape located between Gillette to the north and Douglas to the south. It is in a very busy, middle of nowhere 113 mile stretch. The lonely stretch of highway 59 runs north and south between Gillette and Douglas with the only other town of Wright in the middle. Well, unless you call the shanty store and railroad crew hotel in Bill a town. This is northeastern Wyoming at its finest with long rolling golden grasslands that seem to go on forever. The area is known as the Powder River Basin and it is the largest coal producing area in the United States. The sub-bituminous coal is located near the surface which makes it easier and more cost effective to extract than deeper underground seams. The coal is extracted from large open pits mines by huge draglines. The coal is then transported to crushers that break the coal up into smaller chunks by very large coal haul dump trucks. Conveyors then take the coal from the crushers to tall silos. These large concrete silos are also known as coal loadouts which gravity fills 110 plus car trains. Almost all of the coal is exported by rail to shipping ports and power plants. BNSF and Union Pacific railroads operate on this section of tracks between Gillette and Douglas which serves 10 coal mine loadouts. More coal mines are served to the north of Gillette al the way into Montana. The coal in the Powder River Basin is from prehistoric inland seas that existed here. As the land rose, the seas drained out leaving swampland. The peat in the swampland is what was transformed into the coal they mine today. This coal subbituminous, which is low in ash, and low in sulfur. This is what makes it much cleaner to burn than other types of coal. The drawback is that it has a lower BTU rating which means more has to be burned to create as much energy as higher BTU rated coal. The Powder River deposit is one of the largest coal deposits in the world but only about 6% of the coal can be mined affordably as the rest of it is buried too deep. A curious oddity of underground coal seams are the fires. These underground coal fire can burn for years such as one north of Gillette on the Pee Gee Ranch which has been burning for over 70 years. A famous coal fire in the United States is the one in Centralia, Pennsylvania which has been burning since 1962. One fire in New South Wales, Australia has been burning over 2,000 years and is now about 500 feet below the surface of the earth.
24112 Mile View of UP Train and Black Thunder West

The area is amazingly peaceful and you truly feel like you are in the middle of nowhere even though the roads and rails can be extremely busy with truck and train traffic. All of that traffic disappears if you pull of any of the main roads that service the mines. The wildlife is the Powder River Basin is very abundant including what seems to be thousands of Antelope. Elk and Mule Deer are also very common to see. The Powder River Basin is also home to the Thunder Basin National Grasslands which covers roughly 572,000 acres. The region is named after the Powder River River which is known for being a mile wide and an inch deep. The river was named from the gun powder colored sands on its banks. The long rolling hills of the area make the landscape in front of you appear much closer than it really is. What seems to be a few miles in front of you can sometimes be 15 miles. The large open feeling, waving tall grass from the ever so common breeze, and pastel colors of the Powder River Basin can put you into a trance of relaxation. This is why I love this area as I have not found another like it. The parade of coal trains humming in the distance is just adds to the experience for someone like me that is engulfed in fascination by the coal industry.

192480 Volt Power Box Sits Along the Orin Sub 353263 Haul Truck in Wyoming Basin 1Loaded Coal Train Climbs the Hill 2Winter Weather Settles In Over the PRB 3American Flag Union Pacific Coal Train at Dusk 4Coal Train in Shawnee Wyoming at Dusk With Abandoned House 5Black Thunder Open Pit with Cat Grader 6Three Points of Light Can Be Seen in the Distance Above the Gas Plant 7Horses Play With Each Other 8Union Pacific Coal Train on Reno Sub and Black Thunder West Loadout 9Stored Bags of Grain 10Union Pacific Coal Train in Powder River Basin Winter 11A White Horse Walk Towards the Camera as Coal Cars Roll By in the Distance 12Wet Dirt Wyoming Ranch Road 13BNSF Coal Train Near Orin Jct. 14BNSF Power Sits at Guernsey Yard 15Cattle and Coal Cars 16Train Heads Through Wyodak Power Plant 17Coal train and Oil Jackpump 18Rainy Powder River Basin Day 19Trains Meet Before First Light on Logan Hill 20UP Coal Train South of Bill Wyoming 21An Old Water Pump Stands With the Wild Grass Along the Mainline 22BNSF Coal Train Rounds the Curve in the RAin 23Jacobs Ranch Coal Mine 24Loaded Coal Train Leaves North Antelope Mine 25Powder River Basin Cactus 26UP Coal Train and MOW on Logan Hill 27Abandoned Wyoming Farm 28View of Black Thunder West Through Window Sill 29Coal Train Derailment 30Dramatic Clouds Over BNSF Train 31Loaded Coal Hoppers Fly Through the Snow Past Signals in the PRB 32BNSF Coal Trains Pass in the Rain 33BNSF MOW Truck at Railroad Crossing at Wyodak Plant 34BNSF Coal Train at Antelope Mine 35Crane Next to Black Thunder West Concrete Silo 36Jackpump Cows and Coal Hoppers 37Trains Meet on Logan Hill 38Winter Wyodak Scene 39Mixed Coal hoppers in Powder River Basin 40Loaded Coal Train Leaves Black Thunder South 41Union Pacific With New Coal Hoppers 42Cordero Mine and Coal Cars 43Low Clouds at Sunrise Near Coal Mine 44Union Pacific Train Near Abandoned Cafe at Shawnee Wyoming 45Coal Hoppers Head South Out of Bill Wyoming 46Union Pacific Train and MOW Equipment 47Coal Creek Mine On Wyoming Landscape 48Coal Hoppers Pass a Dead Tree 49Black Thunder West Under New Construction 50Black Thunder Coal Haul Truck Under Railroad Bridge 51Coal Haul Truck Dumps Coal Into Crusher 52Coal Silos and Power Lines 53Union Pacific Train on Logan Hill 54The Black Thunder West Concrete Silos Tower Over the PRB 55Union Pacific Power Heads Past This Abandoned Property 56Abandoned Railroad Tracks South of the Powder River Basin Along Highway with Semi 57Old Wood House Near Train Tracks 58Coal Silos at Night 59Cat 7930 Coal Dump Truck 60Powder River Basin Coal Drag in Pit with Coal Hoppers 61Loaded Coal Haul Truck in Basin 62Loaded Coal Train Grinds Up Wet Rails in the Rain 63Black Thunder Open Coal Pit 64Coal Train with Black Hoppers 65Coal Trains Meet in the Curves 66Entire Coal Train in Snow Covered Wyoming Landscape 67A Lone BNSF Unit Sits on the Reno Sub 68Two Coal Trains Hit the S Curves 69Industrial Wyodak Coal Complex 70Black Thunder Cat Coal Haul Truck 71BNSF Coal Train at Sunset 72An Entire Coal Train Can Be Seen Snaking Down Grade South of Gillette Wyoming 73BNSF Coal Trains in the Rainy Powder River Basin 74Run Down Home Outside of Gillette Wyoming 75Entire Coal Mine Complex Can Be Seen Along the Powder River Basin Mainline 76Horse Stands in the Wind 77Sunflower Coal Hoppers Near Glendo Wyoming 78Dog Sits at Front Door in the Powder River Basin 79Sheep and Coal Hoppers 80A Green Door Stands Open Letting In Some Sunlight 81Burlington Northern Coal Hoppers 82Wish I knew the Story Behind This Abandoned Building 83UP Coal Train Crosses Wyoming Highway 59 84Coal Train and Dragline 85BNSF on the Powder River Basin at Night 86BNSF Starts the Logan Hill Climb 87Sunrise Over Wyoming Coal Mine 88Rain in the Powder River Basin 89Trains Converge at Black Thunder 90UP Loading at Black Thunder West 91Wyoming Grassland Open Pit Coal Mine 92Sante Fe Units Speed Towards Donkey Creek Jct 93Looking Out the Window at a BNSF Locomotive 94Coal Silos of Antelope Mine 95Loaded BNSF Train Leaves Reno Sub 96Mule Deer Roam the Wyoming Powder River Basin 97UP and SP Locomtives Push in the Rain 98Dawn Blizzard Conditions Cover Orin Sub 99Union Pacific Locomotive Tagged with Grafitti with Oil Jackpump 100Pumpjacks and Cows 101New Signals on the Orin Sub 102BNSF Coal Train Passes Open Pit Mine 103Unique Rock Near Nacco Jct 104UP Coal Train at Shawnee WY 105Cold Winter Day on the Powder River Basin 106PRB Mailboxes 107BNSF in the PRB Near Converse Jct 108Brand New Coal Loadout 109Coal Hopper and Switch Stand 110BNSF Coal Train Near Douglas Wyoming 111Circular Tunnel Under Railroad Tracks - Gillette Wyoming 112More Coal Tonnage Passes This Abandoned Home 113Old Wooden Table 114Coal Hoppers Roll Through Douglas Wyoming 115Oil and Gas Tanks Along Train Tracks 116Tank Truck and Union Pacific 117Union Pacific Train Near Shawnee Wyoming School House 118BNSF Executive SD70MACS in the Snow 119Coal Snow and Ice 120Cordero Mine at Night 121BNSF SD70ACE 122Cordero Mine Complex and Silos 123Sheep Watch BNSF Coal Train 124Orin Sub and Hilight Road String Across the Wyoming Plains 125Cows Graze Wyoming Ranch Land in Winter 126Trains on Logan Hill Near Bill Wyoming 127Old Homestead is Home to Some of the Only Large Trees in the Grasslands 128Loaded Coal Hoppers at Arch Coal Tunnel Enterance 129BNSF Train Flashes Past Wyoming Windmill 130Ghost Town of Shawnee Wyoming 131Haul Truck Goes Off into the Sunset 132UP Coal Train Heads Towards Reno Junction 133Coal Trains Pass Along Wyoming Highway 59 134Unique Large Mail Boxes in the Powder River Basin 135Laramie Range South of Douglas WY 136Union Pacific Coal train at Sunset with Signal Bridge 137DPU Pushes Tonnage Up the Grade as Snow Falls Before Sunrise 138Loaded and Empty Aluminum Coal Hoppers Curve Through the Landscape 139UP Train Heads North Towards Gillette 140Cranes Work on New Power Plant in Wyoming 141BNSF Coal Train Gets Loaded at Black Thunder Mine 142Burlington Northern Executive Scheme Locomotive Kicks Up Snow on Logan Hill 143Many More Coal Cars Than Trees in the Coal Fields 144BNSF MOW Pick Up Inspects the Orin Line 145Loaded Coal Hoppers Flash by Codero Rojo Mine 146Coal Cars Fly By Colored in Red Light 147Ex Southern Pacific Locomotive in the Powder River Basin 148String of Coal Hoppers 149Wet Coal Train Meet in the Rain 150Open Coal Mine Pit in Grassland 151PRB Landscape 152Union Pacific Train Sweeps Across the Long Rolling Hills 153BNSF Train at Reno Junction 154New Coal Power Plant Under Construction 155Cordero Mine Haul Truck 156Oil Jackpumps Dot the Wyoming Landscape Along The BNSF UP Joint Line 157The Yellow Glow of Lights Reflects Off the Tall Concrete Coal Silos 158Aluminum Coal Hoppers Stretch Across Wyoming Landscape 159BNSF Train Loads at the New Black Thunder West Silos 160Jackpumps Pull Oil From the Coalfields 161Old Chevy Nova Sits in Bill WY Trailer Court 162A Lone Helper Set Slowly Travels Towards the Crossover 163BNSF Speeds Through Railroad Crossing 164Black Thunder West Silo Construction 165The Cordero Mine Complex Towers Over the Snow Covered Grasslands 166White Faced Cow 167BNSF Train Waits to Get Loaded 168Power Boxes Sit Across the Vacant Hilight Trailer Park 169Wyoming Ranch Land BNSF Train and Horses 170Abandoned Property Near Wright Wyoming 171BNSF Coal Train Sits Outside Black Thunder West Coal Loadout 172Coal Hoppers Move Through Wyodak Plant Complex 173Parade of Heavy Haul Trucks 174Clouds Move Over Aluminum Coal Hoppers 175Black Thunder West Near Wright Wyoming as Coal Train Work Up the Hill 176BNSF in the PRB With Black Thunder West Coal Load Out at Reno Jct 177Coal Haul Dump Truck at Dusk 178Union Pacific Coal Train Works Up Logan Hill 179An Union Pacific High Tonnage Coal Train Works Hard Up the Hill 180Remnants of a Baseball Field Stand in a Field Where the Hilight Trailer Court Once Stood 181BNSF Coal Train Crosses Wyoming Highway 59 182Wyoming Mountain Range 183Sheep Graze as a UP DPU Pushes the Grade 184Coal Hoppers Get Filled at Black Thunder West 185Old Thunder Basin Coal Company Sign for Coal Creek Mine 186Open Expanse of the Powder River Basin at Dusk 187A BNSF Coal Train Thunders Across the Basin 188Coal Trains in Wyoming Thunderstorm 189Mirror Shot at Union Pacifics Bill Yard 190Sunrise on Logan Hill 191Incredible Coal Train View Near Bill 193Union Pacific Trains Pass on the Steep Grade 194BNSF Coal Train Heads Across Powder River Basin Near Antelope Coal Mine 195Four Track Mainline Up Logan Hill 196New Construction in the Powder River Basin 197Union Pacific Coal Trains on Logan Hill 198Sunrise Over Union Pacific at Converse Jct 199CNW Unit Leads Coal Train as Seen Through a Snow Fence 200Dusty and Windy Day in the Powder River Basin Near Black Thunder Mine 201The PRB Landscape 202White Coal Haul Truck 289 203Mitts Bear mailbox Near Bill Wyoming 204Coal Trains Stack Up Outside the Black Thunder Loadout 205Hilly Wyoming Landscape with Trains 206Dramatic Rainy PRB Photo 207Wyodak Power Plant at Night 208BNSF Trains Meet at Black Thunder mine 209Endless Coal Cars Pound the Rails Outside This Abandoned House 210The Powder River Basin 211The Tracks in the PRB Look So Graceful as They Sweep Across the Landscape 212Powder River Basin Coal Train 213Sunrises Over Wyoming Coal Mine 214The New Black Thunder West Loadout Under Construction 215Black Thunder West Coal Loadout Stands Tall in the Powder River Basin 216Cordero Mine Property 217Hilight Trailer Court Stands Almost Empty 218Tanks Above Open Pit Coal Mine 219An Old Homestead Borders the PRB Mainline 220Fully Loaded Hoppers of Coal Flash by the Cordero Mine 221Pre Dawn Antelope in the Basin 222Coal Creek Mine Can Be in the Distance as Union Pacific Powers Coal North 223Coal Train Passes Run Down Trailer Park 224UP Coal Train Side Profile 225Old House and New Coal Loadout 226Two UP Coal Trains Race Up Logan Hill 227Powerlines and Coal Silos 228Collapsed Abandoned Farm Building Lay in Piles of Debris in the Snow 229BNSF Coal Train at Converse Jct 230Sunset Over Black Thunder West 231The Vast Powder River Basin 232BNSF Coal Train on Loop Track 233Southern Pacific DPU Pushes a Loaded Coal Train Past the Vacant Site of the Hilight Trailer Court 234Union Pacific Coal Train Rolls Under the Black Thunder West Conveyor 235A Windmill Stands Above the Speeding Coal Hoppers 236Coal Hoppers by Wyodak Power Plant 237BNSF Under Conveyor Under Construction 238Coal Train Near Coal Creek Mine 239Wyoming Coalfields 240Rain on the Powder River Basin With Southern Pacific Locomotives 242Abandoned Snow Covered Train Tracks Along the Powder River Basin 243BNSF Train Passes Union Pacifics Bill Yard 244Logan Hill Before Sunrise 245Coal Trains at Converse Junction 246Railroad Crossing and Coal Cars at Night 247Trains Meet at Converse 248BNSF Train in the Rain 249BNSF Coal Trains Serve the Fort Union Dry Fork Eagle Butte Coal Mines North of Gillette 250Busy Railroad Crossing in Douglas Wyoming 251Loaded BNSF Coal Train Travels Up the Orin Sub 252Black Thunder Coal Mine Fills Two BNSF Trains 253Coal Hoppers Roll Through the Wyoming Landscape 254Coal Train Glides Across the Basin 255Sante Fe Units in Gillette Wyoming at Dust Near Otherside Bar and Grill 256Coal Cars Fly Along Orin Sub During Snow Storm 257Cordero Rojo Rio Tinto Mine 258Head on of BNSF Coal Train 259A String of Coal Cars Travel Along the Red Rock Dirt Hilight Road 260Coal Train Before Dawn Near Bill Wyoming 261Low Clouds Cover Most of the Coal Creek Silos 262Sante Fe Units Lead Burlington Northern Caboose Outside Gillette 263BNSF Coal Train Kicks Up Snow as it Heads North Up the Orin Sub 264The Bill Store and US Post Office 82631 265Large Coal Mining Equipment Krupp 266Old Steel Gas Structure in Field 267The Long Grades of the PRB and Needed Infrastructure Can Be Seen From This Angle 268What an Impressive Sight to See These Huge Coal Facilities 269Antelope Sunrise in the Snow 270BNSF Locomotive Powers Loaded Coal Hoppers Up the Hill 271Busy Converse Junction 272Newly Built Black Thunder Loadout with BNSF DPU 273Wide Open Snow Covered Powder river Basin 274Cold Windy Winter Day on the Powder River Basin 275The Sunrise Rises Into the Clouds Behind the Coal Conveyor 276Train Poles Conveyor 277Covered Wagon Mailbox With Cowboys 278Union Pacific Ex Southern Pacific Locomotive Flashes Along the Powder River Basin 279Coal Silos From the Dry Fork Mine Tower Over another Coal Train 280Coal Trains Load at Coal Mine 281BNSF Train Rounds the Curve 282A Union Pacific Train Pulls Across the Wet Rails 283Tanks and Trains Near Bill Wyoming 284Well Drilling in National Grasslands 285Coal Train Passes the Newly Built Black Thunder Loadout 286BNSF Coal Train Near Antelope Mine 287Coal Trains Leaving the PRB Near Douglas Wyoming 288Trains Meet at Sunset Near Cordero Mine 289Almost Everything is Gone From the Vacant Hilight Trailer Park Near Wright Wyoming 290Union Pacific Coal Train Sails Down Grade 291Haul Truck Loaded With Overburden 292Never Too Far From Coal 293Union Pacific and Gas Collection Facility 294Abandoned Industrial Oil or Gas Facility 295Blue Storage Tanks Sit Along the Orin Sub Along With a Helper Set 296BNSF Coal Train at New Crossover 297Loop Track at Cordero Mine 298Wyoming Coal Seams 299BNSF MOW Worker Inspects Rails 300Snow Fences Across Wyoming Landscape 301BNSF Train Under Cordero Coal Loadout 302Coal Trains at Antelope Mine 303Black Thunder West Can Be Seen Towering Over the PRB in the Distance and Gas Plant 304Coal Hoppers Can Be Seen Through the Window 305Large Hills Stand Above the Grasslands as a Train Stretches Across the Landscape 306Coal Mine South of Montana Border 307Power Utility Company Truck in the Grasslands 308Roads Seem to Go On Forever Across the Powder River Basin 309Black Thunder Mine Complex 310Infrastructure Choas 311Wyoming Lanscape at Dusk with Windmill 312PRB Mainline View From the Trailer Court 313UP Coal Train Comes Down the Hill 314The View of the Powder River Basin Coal Fields 315BNSF DPU Near Wyodak Mine and Power Plant 316New Black Thunder Loop Track Built Near Reno Jct 317Coal Miners Head to Work at Sunrise 318Antelope Running Along Loaded Coal Hoppers 319BNSF SD70MACs 320Large Haul Truck Tows Huge Coal Bulldozer 321Loaded Coal Cars Climb the Hill 322Rock Outcropping Along BNSF Orin Sub 323Aluminum Coal Hoppers Outside Snow Covered Trailer Houses 324Antelope Mine Complex 325BNSF Coal train Arrives at the Northern Rawhide Mine 326Codero Rojo Coal Loadout 327Coal Cars and Dragline 328Railroad Crossing at Night Near Donkey Creek 329An Old Shack With Green Trim is One of the Only Buildings Along the Mainline 330Trinity Coal Car Shop in Bill Wyoming 331BNSF SD70MACs in the Rain 332Power Lines Wind Mill and Coal 333Clareton Highway Bridge Construction Forces Cars Across Haul Truck Road 334Coal Train with UP and SP Power 335The Towering Black Thunder West Silos 336Coal Train at Nacco Junction 337Coal Trains Sit at Antelope Mine 338Semi Tanker Travels Down Hilight Road While the Moonlight Reflects Off the Snow 339Trains Along Hilight Road 340Cordero Mine White Tube Conveyor System 341Hazy Sweeping Railroad Tracks 342BNSF in the PRB 343Derailed Coal Hoppers at Car Shop Near Bill Wyoming 344The Coal Fueled Dry Fork Station Near Gillette 345Homestead Near Reno Jct 346Another Train Sets Up to be Loaded With Coal at Black Thunder West 347Trains Meet at Nacco Jct 348Union Pacific Hauls Coal Past Bill Trailer Court 349Moon Light Bathes an Abandoned House Near Reno Jct 350Trailer Houses and Dumpsters 351Two Coal Trains in PRB Coal Fields 352Mountainview Near Douglas WY 354CAT Bulldozer pushes Coal Overburden Near Concrete Coal Silos 355Aerial View of Black Thunder West and Reno Jct 356Exhaust Blown by Wind on Logan Hill 357Loaded Coal Hoppers Sit Behind Abandoned Home 358Industrial Detail Photo of Wyodak Plant 359Coal Creek Stands Behind the PRB S Curves 360Old Haul Truck Outside Black Thunder Mine 361Running Elk in Wyoming Powder River Basin 362Huge Coal Dragline 363Black and White Beef Steer 364Two UP Trains Meet on the Hill in the Basin 365Union Pacific Train Climbs Logan Hill With Antelope Mine in the Background 366A Frozen Haze Almost Hides a Huge Coal Dragline 367Cows Eat Next to PRB Mainline 368Laramie Range Near Douglas Wyoming


travis dewitz soo 2719 coal web 150x150 Photograph

About the Author
Travis Dewitz is a professional photographer located out of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He has been published in many books and magazines including many in the railroad industry. He does a lot of photography work and environmental portraitures for many companies and heavy industries in and around Wisconsin. He has grown up with trains and railroads are one of his passions that he pursues. His railroad photography can be seen on his website The Railroad Collection.

 

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I look forward to collaborating with you on any of your questions or comments. Don’t hesitate to reach out, I am detail oriented and would gladly answer any questions.