El Reno, OK
UP Senior Vice President Bob Turner presents Train Town plaque to El Reno Mayor Matt White.
Shortly after the Run of '89, tracks were installed between Caldwell, Kan., and El Reno, Okla. In 1890, the first Rock Island Railroad locomotives pulled trains through the community establishing it as a major rail center in Oklahoma Territory.
The demise of steam trains occurred at the close of World War II. New, safer, more efficient diesel-electric engines begin displacing these hissing giants from coast-to-coast. By the end of 1951, most of the larger railroads had switched entirely to diesel power. To service the new locomotives, the Rock Island built a 28,000 square foot diesel shop at the El Reno yard in 1946. At this facility engines were removed, overhauled, and rebuilt by hundred of crewmembers who lived and worked in town.
At one time there were about 850 local citizens employed by the Rock Island Railroad. Everyone knew someone, or was related to someone, whose livelihood depended on “The Rock.”