The Burlington Northern Railroad was formed in 1970 out of a merger of railroads that had a long association– the Great Northern (GN), the Northern Pacific (NP), the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy (CB&Q, or “Burlington”), and the Spokane, Portland, and Seattle (SP&S). Three of these systems all had their origin as ventures of the early railroad tycoon, James J. Hill. As such, they have often been known as Hill lines. in 1980, the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway Co. (Frisco) was also acquired and merged into the BN. The combined BN system became one of the largest railroads in the country, with extensive routes throughout the plains states and the Northwest. Agriculture and coal accounted for the majority of its traffic, with a burgeoning intermodal market on the transcontinental lines.
In 1995, in the new climate of mega-mergers, the BN merged with the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe, forming what is now the BNSF Railway. Its system now serves essentially the entire western two-thirds of the US.
From a railfan perspective, the BN offered an interesting variety of equipment to watch, particularly a large stable of GE diesels (the “U-boats”) in an era when EMD was the dominant locomotive builder. BN was one of the few railroads that continued to order cabless locomotives (“B” units), and it experimented with other innovations such as fuel tenders on long-distance routes.
Now that BN has merged into the BNSF, its equipment is disappearing, but one can still find it if one looks hard enough. Anytime I find a BN car in a consist, I try to get its portrait. You will find some of those photos on the Equipment page .
So, here is my humble offering of BN photos. I wish there were more; I’m glad for what I have.