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Black Hills Central Railroad
Black Hills Central Railroad
Baldwin 2-6-2T #104 steaming out of Hill City station in 2001, on the 10-mile (16 km) run to Keystone, South Dakota
Locale Keystone, South Dakota
Commercial operations
Name Keystone Branch of the Burlington Northern Railroad
Built by Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad
Original gauge 4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge)
Preserved operations
Owned by Black Hills Central Railroad
Operated by Black Hills Central Railroad
Preserved gauge 4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge)
Commercial history
Preservation history
1957 Reopened

The Black Hills Central Railroad is a heritage railroad that operates in Keystone, South Dakota, United States.

It currently operates the 1880 Train on the former Keystone Branch of the Burlington Northern Railroad (BN) between Hill City, South Dakota and Keystone, South Dakota. This railroad line was originally built by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad (CB&Q) as a mining railroad for gold in the Black Hills. It reached Keystone on January 20, 1900 and was later used to haul equipment for carving nearby Mount Rushmore.

In 1957, William Heckman and Robert Freer started the Black Hills Central Railroad which began operating a tourist passenger excursion train service on this line. In 1972, the Black Hills flood destroyed the last mile of the Burlington Northern/Black Hills Central line in Keystone, which was later restored in 2001.

The Black Hills Central Railroad restores early twentieth century-era locomotives and train cars and has been featured on television shows such as the Gunsmoke episode "Snow Train", General Hospital and the TNT mini-series Into the West. It also appeared in the movie Orphan Train.

Trains operate between early May and early October over the scenic 10-mile (16 km) line.

Preserved equipment

The BHCR operates five rare, well-preserved and operational steam locomotives as of 2021:

  • #7, Baldwin 2-6-2, built 1919 as P&NW #7. On display as of 2021.
  • #103, Baldwin 2-6-2T, built 1922 as Silver Falls Timber Company (S.F.T.Co.) #103 before being sold to the BHCR in 1965. In storage as of 2021.
  • #104, Baldwin 2-6-2T tank locomotive (pictured), built 1926 as S.F.T.Co. #104 before being sold to the BHCR in 1965. Operational as of 2021.
  • #108, Baldwin 2-6-6-2T, built 1926 as Potlatch Lumber Company #24. Acquired by Northwest Railway Museum in Snoqualmie, Washington. Sold to the BHCR in 2016. Restored to operating condition in August 2020. Operational as of 2021.
  • #110, Baldwin 2-6-6-2T, built 1928 as Weyerhauser Timber Company #110. Operational as of 2021.

The Black Hills Central Railroad also has two diesel locomotives on its engine roster as of 2021:

  • #63, EMD GP9, formerly Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O) #6178. Operational as of 2021.
  • #6657, Whitcomb 80 Tonner, built 1943 as U.S. Army #7379. Operational as of 2021.

Coordinates: 43°55′56″N 103°34′24″W / 43.93222°N 103.57333°W / 43.93222; -103.57333

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