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Railroad in Focus

Railroad in Focus takes an in-depth look at short lines and regional railroads, where they go, the kinds of industries they serve, their histories and perspectives from the operations team. We interview key stakeholders at featured railroads so you can learn more about them. Features are accompanied by color photographs and maps, and show some of the latest equipment in use today.

The Austin Western Railroad was featured in the May/June 2014 issue of Cowcatcher Magazine. - Courtesy J.R. Leal

The Austin Western Railroad was featured in the May/June 2014 issue of Cowcatcher Magazine. – Courtesy J.R. Leal

Since our July/August issue of 2012, we have featured nearly three dozen short lines across the country!

Watch for more installments of Railroad in Focus in future issues of Cowcatcher Magazine!
Our roster of railroads by issue includes:

JULY/AUGUST 2012 – South Kansas & Oklahoma
SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2012 – Blacklands Railroad
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2012 – Louisiana Southern
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2013 – Fort Worth & Western Railroad

MARCH/APRIL 2013 – Arkansas & Oklahoma Railroad
MAY/JUNE 2013 – Brownsville & Rio Grande International
JULY/AUGUST 2013 – Illinois Railway
SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2013 – Watco Companies
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013 – Nebraska, Kansas & Colorado Railway
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014 – Semo Port Railroad
MARCH/APRIL 2014 – Texas Central Railway
MAY/JUNE 2014 – Austin Western Railroad
JULY/AUGUST 2014 – Timber Rock Railroad
SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2014 – Short Line Industry
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014 – Nebraska Central Railroad
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 – San Antonio Central Railroad
MARCH/APRIL 2015 – New Orleans and Gulf Coast Railway

The New Orleans and Gulf Coast Railway Co.

The New Orleans and Gulf Coast Railway Co.

JULY/AUGUST 2015 – Farmrail
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2015 – Wisconsin & Southern Railroad
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016 – Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad

MARCH/APRIL 2016 – TNW Corp.

JULY/AUGUST 2016 – Red River Valley & Western
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016 – Great Western Railway
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 – KAW and Kansas City Terminal
MARCH/APRIL 2017 – Sand Springs Railway
SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017 – Newburgh & South Shore Railroad
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 – Birmingham Terminal Railway/Alabama Warrior Railway
MARCH/APRIL 2018 – Texas Central Railway
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2018 – Decatur & Illinois Eastern Railroad

Don’t have those issues? Get an inside look at these railroads by ordering your back issue copy today!

Current Issue: September/October 2023


Bright, shiny freight cars are showing in greater numbers on the North American rail network. New orders and deliveries increased in 2022 following a decline beginning in 2019 that the pandemic worsened in 2020 and 2021. According to a report from the Railway Supply Institute's American Railway Car Institute Committee, new freight car orders last year were significantly greater than the combined total of 2020 and 2021. Deliveries increased nearly as much.

But car builders are not out of the woods yet, as the first half of 2023 saw some ups and downs.


Too much of a good thing can be hazardous to model railroad operations. Adding more cars to a layout can place more pressure on yards and industries when running the railroad like the real thing. Three veteran operators share their thoughts about how to avoid logjams in yards, sidings and at industries. 


Computer-based applications that complement DCC are driving the new frontier of model rail road operations.


The Sunset Limited ranks as Amtrak's worst train in on-time performance, prompting a Surface Transportation Board investigation. The Southern Pacific's Coast Daylight, with its brilliant colors, was among the most beautiful trains during the golden age of passenger rail. A BNSF test locomotive that set the stage for future developments in alternative energy motive power technology arrives at an Oklahoma railroad museum.