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Eastbound train on the Black Mesa and Lake Powell Railroad, May 19, 2007. Note the Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México (N de M) livery on the locomotives
|Locale||Navajo Nation, Northern Arizona|
|Dates of operation||1973–2019|
The Black Mesa and Lake Powell Railroad( reporting mark BLKM) was an electrified private railroad operating in Northern Arizona, USA within the Navajo Nation which transported coal 78 miles (126 km) from the Peabody Energy Kayenta Mine near Kayenta, Arizona to the Navajo Generating Station power plant at Page, Arizona. It was completely isolated from the national rail network and did not connect to any other railroad. As a result, like metros, light rails, and trams, it was not controlled by the Federal Railroad Administration.
A reporting mark is an alphabetic code of two to four letters used to identify owners or lessees of rolling stock and other equipment used on certain railroad networks.
Northern Arizona is an unofficial, colloquially-defined region of the U.S. state of Arizona. Generally consisting of Coconino, Mohave, Navajo, and Apache counties, the region is geographically dominated by the Colorado Plateau, the southern border of which in Arizona is called the Mogollon Rim.
The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or simply America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe. Most of the country is located in central North America between Canada and Mexico. With an estimated population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City.
The line was constructed in the early 1970s and was the first railroad to be electrified at 50,000 volts. It was owned by the Salt River Project and the co-owners of the Navajo Generating Station.
The Salt River Project (SRP) is the umbrella name for two separate entities: the Salt River Project Agricultural Improvement and Power District, an agency of the state of Arizona that serves as an electrical utility for the Phoenix metropolitan area, and the Salt River Valley Water Users' Association, a utility cooperative that serves as the primary water provider for much of central Arizona. It is one of the primary public utility companies in Arizona.
Navajo Generating Station is a 2.25-gigawatt, coal-fired power plant located on the Navajo Nation, near Page, Arizona United States. This plant provides electrical power to customers in Arizona, Nevada, and California. It also provides the power for pumping Colorado River water for the Central Arizona Project, supplying about 1.5 million acre feet (1.85 km3) of water annually to central and southern Arizona. As of 2017 permission to operate as a conventional coal-fired plant is anticipated until 2017-2019, and to December 22, 2044 if extended. However, in 2017, the utility operators of the power station voted to close the facility when the lease expires in 2019. In March 2019, the Navajo Nation ended efforts to buy the plant and continue running it after the lease expires.
The line was electrified by means of 50,000 V, 60 Hz, overhead catenary with electricity supplied by the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority.
An overhead line or overhead wire is used to transmit electrical energy to trains, trolleybuses or trams. It is known variously as:
During normal operations, the railroad operated three round trips per day.Between 1973 and 1976, six E60CFs locomotives were purchased new. In 1999, some 1982/83 built E60C-2s were purchased from Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México and overhauled including conversion from 25 kV.
The GE E60 is a family of six-axle 6,000 hp (4.5 MW) C-C electric locomotives made by GE Transportation Systems (GE) between 1972 and 1983. The E60s were produced in several variants for both freight and passenger use in the United States and Mexico. GE designed the locomotive for use on the Black Mesa and Lake Powell Railroad (BM&LP), a dedicated coal-hauling route in Arizona, which began operation in 1973. That same year GE adapted the design for high-speed passenger service on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor. The largest customer was Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México (NdeM), the state-owned railroad in Mexico, which bought 39 for a new electrification project in the early 1980s.
Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México, was Mexico's state owned railroad company from 1938 to 1998, and prior to 1938 a major railroad controlled by the government that linked Mexico City to the major cities of Ciudad Juárez, Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros on the U.S. border. The first trains to Nuevo Laredo from Mexico City began operating in 1903.
Forty new aluminum coal hoppers were purchased from FreightCar America to replace some of the aging fleet of 30 year-old FMC and Ortner hoppers.
A hopper car (US) or hopper wagon (UIC) is a type of railroad freight car used to transport loose bulk commodities such as coal, ore, grain, and track ballast. Two main types of hopper car exist: covered hopper cars, which are equipped with a roof, and open hopper cars, which do not have a roof.
FreightCar America is a manufacturer of freight cars for the railway industry.
The railroad's final delivery to the Navajo Generating Station was August 26, 2019. The power plant is to shut down in December 2019 due to competition from cheaper energy sources.
Navajo County is located in the northern part of the U.S. state of Arizona. As of the 2010 census, its population was 107,449. The county seat is Holbrook.
Page is a city in Coconino County, Arizona, United States, near the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 7,247.
Kayenta is a U.S. census-designated place (CDP) which is part of the Navajo Nation and is in Navajo County, Arizona. The population was 5,189 at the 2010 census. Kayenta is located 25 miles (40 km) south of Monument Valley and contains a number of hotels and motels which service visitors to Monument Valley. Like other places on the Navajo Nation, it is illegal to serve alcohol. Arizona does not observe Daylight Time; however, the Navajo reservation does.
The Navajo Nation is an American Indian territory covering about 17,544,500 acres, occupying portions of northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah, and northwestern New Mexico in the United States. This is the largest land area retained by an Indian tribe in the United States, with a population of roughly 350,000 as of 2016.
An electric locomotive is a locomotive powered by electricity from overhead lines, a third rail or on-board energy storage such as a battery or a supercapacitor.
The Four Corners is a region of the United States consisting of the southwestern corner of Colorado, southeastern corner of Utah, northeastern corner of Arizona, and northwestern corner of New Mexico. The Four Corners area is named after the quadripoint at the intersection of approximately 37° north latitude with 109° 03' west longitude, where the boundaries of the four states meet, and are marked by the Four Corners Monument. It is the only location in the United States where four states meet. Most of the Four Corners region belongs to semi-autonomous Native American nations, the largest of which is the Navajo Nation, followed by Hopi, Ute, and Zuni tribal reserves and nations. The Four Corners region is part of a larger region known as the Colorado Plateau and is mostly rural, rugged, and arid. In addition to the monument, commonly visited areas within Four Corners include Monument Valley, Mesa Verde National Park, Chaco Canyon, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument and Canyon de Chelly National Monument. The most populous city in the Four Corners region is Farmington, New Mexico, followed by Durango, Colorado.
The Norfolk and Western Railway was a US class I railroad, formed by more than 200 railroad mergers between 1838 and 1982. It was headquartered in Roanoke, Virginia, for most of its existence. Its motto was "Precision Transportation"; it had a variety of nicknames, including "King Coal" and "British Railway of America" even though the N&W had mostly articulated steam on its roster. During the Civil War, the N&W was the biggest railroad in the south and moved most of the products with their steam locomotives to help the South the best way they could.
The Tennessee Central Railway was founded in 1884 as the Nashville and Knoxville Railroad by Alexander S. Crawford. It was an attempt to open up a rail route from the coal and minerals of East Tennessee to the markets of the midstate, a service which many businessmen felt was not being adequately provided by the existing railroad companies. They also wanted to ship coal and iron ore to the Northeastern US over the Cincinnati Southern Railway, which was leased to the Southern and operated as the Cincinnati, New Orleans and Texas Pacific Railway [CNOTP], through their Cincinnati gateway. The N&K was only completed between Lebanon, where it connected to a Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway branch from Nashville, and Standing Stone.
Black Mesa is an upland mountainous mesa of Arizona, north-trending in Navajo County, west and southeast-trending in Apache County, in the south/southeast. In Navajo it is called Dziłíjiin and during Mexican rule of Arizona it was called Mesa de las Vacas. It derives its dark appearance from the numerous seams of coal that run through it.
Glen Canyon is a natural canyon mostly in southeastern and south-central Utah. A small part of the lower end of Glen Canyon extends into the northern part of Arizona and terminates at the Vermilion Cliffs area in the United States. Like the Grand Canyon to the south, Glen Canyon is part of the immense system of canyons carved by the Colorado River and its tributaries.
Peabody Energy coal mining operations in the Black Mesa plateau of the Four Corners region in the western United States began in the 1960s and continue today. The plateau overlaps the reservations of the Navajo and Hopi Tribes.
Railroad electrification in the United States began at the turn of the 20th century and comprised many different systems in many different geographical areas, few of which were connected. Despite this situation, these systems shared a small number of common reasons for electrification.
The Deseret Power Railroad, formerly known as the Deseret-Western Railway, is an electrified private Class III railroad operating in northeastern Utah and northwestern Colorado. It does not have any connection to the national rail network and does not have any signaling system.
Mohave Power Station was a 1580 megawatt electric (MWe) coal-fired power plant located in Laughlin, Nevada. Southern California Edison is the majority owner of the plant and was its operator. The plant entered commercial operation in 1971. A steam line that ran near the plant's control room and cafeteria ruptured on June 9, 1985, fatally scalding six and injuring ten more. In 2005, the plant was shut down and was later dismantled.
The Navajo Mine Railroad is an electrified private railroad operated by BHP Billiton in New Mexico, USA, within the Navajo Nation. It operates 13.8 miles (22.2 km) of track between the Four Corners Generating Station and BHP Billiton's Navajo Coal Mine. The railroad does not have any connection to the national rail network.
The Four Corners Generating Station is a coal-fired power plant located near Fruitland, New Mexico, on property located on the Navajo Nation that is leased from the Navajo Nation government.
The Kayenta mine is a surface coal mine operated by Peabody Western Coal Company on the Navajo Nation in northern Arizona. About 400 acres are mined and reclaimed each year, providing about 8 million tons of coal annually to the Navajo Generating Station.
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