North Dakota/Railroads

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This is an evolving stub of North Dakota/Railroads.

Segments of railway=rail with similar tagging (especially name=* and usage=*) should be collected into a route=railway relation, developing these is an important "early task." (Subdivisions as relations makes them much easier to work with as single items. JOSM is a recommended editor as it has an excellent relation editing dialog window). For known active rail, this is in the early stages, remaining incomplete for Disused and Abandoned rail in the state. Primary focus now should be on TIGER Review of mainline, branch and industrial rail in North Dakota, the moderate amount of work required to improve these already-entered TIGER rail data and documenting in this wiki how we must and do improve them. Please update color-coding-status here as our map data improve!

Overpass Turbo (OT) queries can be useful as they geocode well, their bounds easily define as geographic names (like "North Dakota") and are easy to modify (e.g. change the value "disused" to "abandoned" or "BNSF" to "CP"). A few OT examples are sprinkled into this wiki where sensible.

Here is a link to the 2017 North Dakota Department of Transportation's official rail map (see Figure 1-4). It is intended that both OSM and this wiki incorporate those data, however, they may not be fully recent or may update newer than what is in our map or what we document here. That official rail map states there are 3,331 miles of railroad in North Dakota over six freight railroads. (OSM finds seven with the "sliver" of Yellowstone Valley Railroad in North Dakota; most of this line is in neighboring Montana). Discrepancies between OSM data and the state official rail map are noted if/as they are discovered.

Editing Railroads starting from TIGER data

Like highways, railroad tracks have been imported from TIGER data and they share the same problems like unconnected segments, wrong tagging, missing bridges and railroad crossings and positions that are frequently off quite a lot. So a review is necessary as it is for highways. Please read WikiProject_United_States_railways#Editing_Railroads_starting_from_TIGER_data.

Active lines

Lines that see regular rail traffic whether freight, passenger, industrial, military, whatever. If they are active, they go here. If they are not, they are placed into the Disused or Abandoned sections below.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF)

A Class I major railroad in the USA. Operates 1723 miles of rail in the state, serving the Bakken regional and the agricultural areas as well as all the major population centers in North Dakota. Here is an OT query, though be aware it matches only BNSF railway with the exact value for its operator key of "BNSF" (none of the variations of spelling of that company that may now be entered in OSM, if any).


Here is an OT query which returns North Dakota railways in OSM now tagged usage=main.

Subdivision Operator Relation Route TIGER Review Notes
Devils Lake Subdivision BNSF relation 2297182 Grand Forks - Lakota - Devils Lake - Rugby - Towner - Surry (E of Minot, KO Subdivision) Needs TIGER Review
Dickinson Subdivision BNSF relation 1445110 Mandan - Dickinson - Montana Line - Wilbaux, Montana, Glendive, Montana Lightly TIGER Reviewed
Glasgow Subdivision BNSF relation 1445103 Minot - Williston - Montana Line - Glasgow, Montana Needs TIGER Review
Grand Forks Subdivision BNSF relation 2297185 Grand Forks - East Grand Forks, Minnesota - Crookston, Minnesota - Bagely, Minnesota - Bemidji, Minnesota - Cass Lake, Minnesota Needs TIGER Review
Hettinger Subdivision BNSF relation 1445113 Cities Lightly TIGER Reviewed
Hillsboro Subdivision BNSF relation 2297187 Fargo - Hillsboro - Grand Forks Needs TIGER Review
Jamestown Subdivision BNSF relation 2297189 Mandan - Bismarck - KO Subdivision W of Casselton Needs TIGER Review
KO Subdivision BNSF relation 2297190 Minot - New Rockford - Nolan - Casselton - Fargo - Minnesota Line - Moorhead, Minnesota - Staples Subdivision further E Lightly TIGER Reviewed
Mobridge Subdivision BNSF relation 2297194 Cities Lightly TIGER Reviewed


Here is an OT query to find usage=branch rail in North Dakota which may be helpful.

Subdivision Operator Relation Route TIGER Review Notes
Clifford Line Subdivision BNSF relation 2297180 Cities Needs TIGER Review
Crosby Subdivision BNSF relation 1445107 Cities Lightly TIGER Reviewed
Drayton Subdivision BNSF relation 2297183 Cities Needs TIGER Review
Glasston Subdivision BNSF relation 2297184 Cities Needs TIGER Review
Grenora Subdivision BNSF relation 1445098 Cities Needs TIGER Review
Hannah Subdivision BNSF relation 2297186 Cities Needs TIGER Review
Hunter Subdivision BNSF relation 2297188 Cities Lightly TIGER Reviewed
Mayville Subdivision BNSF relation 2297192 Cities Lightly TIGER Reviewed
Niobe Subdivision BNSF relation 1445099 Cities Lightly TIGER Reviewed
Prosper Subdivision BNSF relation 2297195 Cities Lightly TIGER Reviewed
Rolla Subdivision BNSF relation 2297196 Cities Lightly TIGER Reviewed
Sidney Line BNSF relation 1379208 Cities Lightly TIGER Reviewed Yellowstone Valley Railroad is an operator here. Only very slightly in North Dakota; most of the line is in Montana.
Warwick Subdivision BNSF relation 2297198 Cities Lightly TIGER Reviewed
Westhope Subdivision BNSF relation 2297200 Cities Lightly TIGER Reviewed
Zap Line Subdivision BNSF relation 2297201 Cities Lightly TIGER Reviewed


Here is an OT query to find usage=industrial rail in North Dakota. It returns very limited results. There may be other rail (Short Line and/or Class III railways, spurs now without usage=* tags...) in the state which are best characterized with this tag. Place these in their proper railway company sections (including this one, BNSF's Industrial lines in North Dakota).

Canadian Pacific Railroad (CP)

CP is a historic Canadian Class I railroad which also operates in the USA, including 484 miles of railway in North Dakota. The line crosses the U.S.-Canada border at Portal and proceeds in a SE direction across the state. Its operation here evolved from the Soo Line Railroad (SOO), a former U.S. subsidiary of CP that provided North Dakota shippers with alternative rail access to Minneapolis-St. Paul Minnesota. In 1990, the CP rail system fully integrated the Soo Line.


Subdivision Operator Relation Route TIGER Review Notes
Carrington Subdivision CP relation 2304637 Harvey - Fessenden - Carrington - Valley City - Enderlin Partially TIGER Reviewed
Elbow Lake Subdivision CP relation 2304640 Enderlin - Hankinson - Minnesota Line - Elbow Lake, Minnesota - Glenwood, Minnesota Needs TIGER Review
Portal Subdivision CP relation 2304645 Harvey - Minot - Bowbells - Portal - Canadian border - North Portal, Saskatchewan - Weyburn Subdivision Needs TIGER Review


Subdivision Operator Relation Route TIGER Review Notes
New Town Subdivision CP relation 2304644 Drake - Max - New Town Partially TIGER Reviewed Is this abandoned?
Veblen Subdivision CP relation 2304646 W of Fairmount (Elbow Lake Subdivision) - Rosholt, South Dakota Needs TIGER Review

Short Lines

Class III (minor) USA railroads.


Dakota Missouri Valley & Western Railroad (DMVW)

Operates 389 miles in North Dakota.

Subdivision Operator Relation Route TIGER Review Notes
Dakota Subdivision DMVW relation 2304638 Wishek - Lehr - Fredonia - Kulm - Fullerton - Clement - Oakes - Forman - Hankinson Needs TIGER Review Tagged usage=branch.
Hazelton Subdivision DMVW relation 2304641 McKenzie - Hazelton - Linton Needs TIGER Review Tagged usage=branch. Southern portion in Emmons County is tagged railway=abandoned, included in relation.
Missouri Valley Subdivision DMVW relation 2304642 Bismark - Wilton - Washburn - Max (New Town Subdivision) Partially TIGER Reviewed Tagged usage=branch.
Napoleon Subdivision DMVW relation 2304643 E of Moffat (Hazelton Subdivision) - Braddock - Napoleon - Wishek (Dakota Subdivision) Partially TIGER Reviewed Tagged usage=branch.
Western Subdivision DMVW relation 2304647 Flaxton (Portal Subdivision) - Noonan - Crosby - Ambrose - Fortuna - Montana Line - Westby, Montana - Outlook, Montana - Whitetail, Montana Mostly TIGER Reviewed Tagged usage=branch.

Dakota Northern Railroad (????)

Operates 48 miles in North Dakota.

Subdivision Operator Relation Route TIGER Review Notes
(Unknown) Subdivision Dakota Northern relation 9266256 Grafton - Saint Thomas - Glasston Done It is difficult to discover the name of this rail and whether or not it is disused/abandoned or active. Tagged usage=branch.
Walhallah Subdivision Dakota Northern relation 9266255 Grafton - Hoople - Crystal - Hensel - Cavalier - Walhalla Done Tagged usage=branch.

Northern Plains Railroad (NPR)

Operates 342 miles in North Dakota.

Subdivision Operator Relation Route TIGER Review Notes
Bisbee Subdivision NPR relation 2304646 W of Fordville (Devils Lake Subdivision) - Lankin - Adams - Nekoma - Bisbee - (gap westerly) - E of Kramer - Lansford - Tolley - Kenmare (Portal Subdivision) Done Tagged usage=branch. Discontiguous as it is missing the segment from Bisbee west to near Gardena
Devils Lake Subdivision NPR relation 2304649 Devils Lake - Fordville - Conway - Forest River - Minnesota Line - Oslo, Minnesota - Alvarado, Minnesota - Warren, Minnesota - Dakota Jct. (N of Thief River Falls, Minnesota) Needs TIGER Review Tagged usage=branch. Owned by Canadian Pacific, NPR has trackage rights.
(Unknown) Branch NPR The single way is in OSM. Munich Needs TIGER Review It is difficult to discover the name of this rail and whether or not it is disused/abandoned or active. Tagged usage=branch.
(Unknown) Branch NPR The single way is in OSM. Lansford - Mohall Needs TIGER Review It is difficult to discover the name of this rail and whether or not it is disused/abandoned or active. Tagged usage=branch.
(Unknown) Subdivision NPR relation 9270550 Forest River - Gilby Needs TIGER Review It is difficult to discover the name of this rail and whether or not it is disused/abandoned or active. Tagged usage=branch.

Red River Valley & Western (RRVW)

Operates 546 miles in North Dakota.

Subdivision Operator Relation Route TIGER Review Notes
Red River Valley & Western RRVW relation 9266623 Eastern, southeastern North Dakota Needs TIGER Review Names of subdivisions are "First" (Second, Third...) through "Eighth." Following usual USA convention, these might get broken out of this "railroad wide" relation into separate subdivisions, as they are tagged with name as elements in this relation, but are all "glommed together" here. Appears to be missing "Fifth" and "Eighth Subdivision" (if indeed these exist), though some segments remain unnamed.

Also believed to have trackage rights on Warwick Subdivision (owner=BNSF) branch.

Yellowstone Valley Railroad (YSVR)

Subdivision Operator Relation Route TIGER Review Notes
Sidney Line YSVR relation 1379208 Glendive, Montana - Crane, Montana - Sidney, Montana - Fairview, Montana - (slips into North Dakota a bit, then back into Montana) - Snowden, Montana Done Tagged usage=branch. BNSF is the owner, leasing the tracks to YSVR. Only has a minor incursion into North Dakota; most of the line is in Montana.


The primary semantic of usage=industrial is to convey rail which serves mines, quarries and connecting similar heavy industry to other branch or mainline rail. However, in the USA, this tag is often (also) used on rail which "serves clusters of businesses engaged in light- or heavy-industry in urban industrial zones."

Passenger trains

Tracks and stations used for passenger train routes are correctly collected into route=train relations.

National (passenger=national) trains (AMTK)

Amtrak provides intercity passenger rail service within North Dakota through its Empire Builder route. The Empire Builder serves North Dakota once a day in each direction between Chicago and Portland, Oregon/Seattle, Washington. In North Dakota, the Empire Builder operates over BNSF rail between Fargo on the Minnesota border west to Williston, before continuing west to Havre in Montana or east to Staples in Minnesota. The Empire Builder serves seven stations in North Dakota: Fargo, Grand Forks, Devils Lake, Rugby, Minot, Stanley and Williston.

Route name Trains (ref=*) Passenger Service type=route_master type=route Status and Notes
Empire Builder® 7, 8, 27, 28 national relation 10322755 v1 CHI-SPK relation 1809794 Routing (2/4)Stops (2/4) Somewhat complete; rough public_transport v1. 2206 miles (3550 km) (Chicago - Seattle).

Regional (passenger=regional) trains (none)

Presently, no "regional rail" (sometimes "intercity") exists in North Dakota, nor are there any known plans. These are middle-distance trains of 150 km to 1000 km; shorter than passenger=national rail but longer than passenger=suburban "commuter" trains, passenger=urban light-rail and passenger=local trams.

Commuter (passenger=suburban), light rail (passenger=urban) trains, trams (passenger=local) (none)

North Dakota has no known rail systems serving suburban, urban and local passengers via full-sized "heavy rail" (commuter) trains, light rail and trams.

Heritage rail (BHCR)

North Dakota has ? known heritage railroads which should be entered into OSM as ways tagged railway=preserved usage=tourism and relations tagged route=railway usage=tourism.

This first table should contains route=railway relations.

A second table should contain route=train relations, yet none are known. Known destinations/stations and current online/printed schedules are useful sources as passenger rail routes and platform locations develop in OSM.

In the USA, passenger=local is sometimes tagged on historic/heritage/museum/tourism/mining route=train relations. It is also is seen on, for example, airport-style railway=monorail or "People Mover" trains (often conductor-less / fully automated) linking airport terminals, rental car areas, long-term parking and correspondences with other transit networks.

Disused lines

Lines that don't have regular traffic but with all infrastructure in place. Tracks are tagged railway=disused.

This needs more population as there is a modest amount of disused rail in North Dakota. Very much under construction and only in its infancy here.

Here is an Overpass Turbo (OT) query which can be helpful. Table goes here.

There does not appear to be any military rail entered into OSM in North Dakota. Updates are welcome.

Abandoned lines

Former railroad lines, whether still visible on the ground or not. A formal abandonment process with FRA has completed. Ways are tagged railway=abandoned or sometimes railway=razed if they have become completely built over in urban areas or are now, for example, farmland which has reverted to a more natural state with no evidence of tracks having been there. These should be historically determined or able to be so, but sometimes this is difficult because of lost history.

This is an early table only just getting started. It needs more population as there is quite a bit of rail history in North Dakota. Under construction.

Here is an Overpass Turbo (OT) query which can be helpful. Table goes here.


A railtrail uses a former railroad right-of-way (ROW) for equestrian, bicycle or hiking paths, preserving the ROW for possible future re-use as a railway while providing a useful service in the meantime. These are often tagged highway=cycleway or highway=footway depending on whether they prefer or allow bicycle or pedestrian traffic. It is OK to tag both railway=abandoned and highway=cycleway if it is the case that an abandoned railway became a railtrail (for bicycle use, for example). Where a (multi-use) pathway is designated for pedestrians but also allows bicycles, tag highway=footway and bicycle=yes.

Clearly, this is an early Railtrails table. It needs more work and to be more fully statewide due to lack of local knowledge of North Dakota's railtrails. Work on/ entries from the Abandoned section above may allow discovery of a railtrail, so enter it here.

Table goes here.


It would be very kind for more OSM volunteers to build up this statewide "Yards" table (stub) with status on every single North Dakota rail yard. It is incomplete as there are a least a dozen rail yards in North Dakota. Here is an OT query to help get started. Table goes here.

About (status) colors in TIGER Review, Route, Name columns

Green means that the route's (TIGER) data highly approach or are fully OSM-reviewed. This strongly implies other relation attributes are correct, but this isn't always strictly true; see Notes/Status column. Green does not conflict with active public_transport:version=* v1-v2 growth. Go!

Yellow means "only partially reviewed" ; additional volunteer work is needed to enter or correct additional route data (railway and/or train) into OSM. Yellow may also mean a route has a volunteer entering data, yet route ambiguities persist about what is actually correct. TIGER review is an early priority (do first or now), and tiger_reviewed=no tag should be deleted now when true or superseded by newer, better data.

Red means "something" (often very little) is known about the route (or yard), so it is useful to put a row in the table about it as a placeholder, but it is early in creating a route relation: route data attributes are unknown or significantly missing/incomplete and need work.