Black Mesa and Lake Powell Railroad

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Black Mesa and Lake Powell Railroad
Black Mesa and Lake Powell RR Map.png
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
Reporting mark BLKM
Locale Navajo Nation, Northern Arizona
Dates of operation1973 (1973)2019 (2019)
Headquarters Page, Arizona

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.

Reporting mark alphabetic code ID used on the North American railroad network

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

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.

United States Federal republic in North America

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 coal power plant

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. [1] 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. [2]

GE E60 locomotive class

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 State railway company of Mexico

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.

Hopper car

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. [1]

See also

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  1. 1 2 Allen, Krista (August 22, 2019). "NGS coal train operators will miss 'best job in the world'". Navajo Times. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  2. Unique Arizona electrified line to close The Railway Magazine issue 1422 September 2019 page 96

Coordinates: 36°33′15″N110°31′35″W / 36.55417°N 110.52639°W / 36.55417; -110.52639