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August 16, 1984

Connector Line Opens in Wyoming

Burlington Northern Railroad and Chicago & North Western Railroad became interested in developing Wyoming's coal fields in the early 1970s following the first Arab oil embargo. Through an initiative code-named Project Yellow, UP helped underwrite C&NW's Connector Line into the Powder River Basin (PRB) with more than $325 million. Construction began in 1983. C&NW's first PRB coal train moved on Aug. 16, 1984, from the North Antelope Coal Mine to Newark, Ark. During the line's first full year of operation in 1985, 19 million tons were hauled out of the PRB — almost five trains per day. By 1995, 23 trains per day left the basin, and average train size had grown to almost 12,000 tons. Today, UP averages about 30 trains per day and average train size is nearly 15,700 tons.

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Coal produces 50 percent of the electricity generated in the United States, and two-thirds of that coal is shipped by rail. Nearly one of every four freight cars on U.S. railroads carries coal.

In 2012, Union Pacific celebrates the shared stories that have shaped our country since 1862. To mark our 150th anniversary, we invite you to explore how the nation’s largest railroad came to be and how UP continues to build America with innovation and tenacity, touching the lives of nearly every citizen.