About AOK Railroad
The Arkansas-Oklahoma Railroad was founded in 1996 by David and Patricia Donoley. With only a handful of employees and two customers we operated roughly 70 miles of railroad. Today, the Arkansas-Oklahoma Railroad serves over 20 customers and operates an expanding 135 miles of railroad. We also employ over 35 people. The A-OK is a family owned and operated business. We consider all of our employees family.
If you are looking to locate in Oklahoma, we hope you consider letting us serve you. If you are an existing customer, we hope you know just how important your business is to us!
The majority of the railroad property in Oklahoma was originally acquired under a February 2, 1888 Act of Congress, 25 Stat. 35. Some small parcels were acquired under subsequent Acts of Congress of April 25, 1896 and
February 28, 1902. The 1888 act granted the railroad company the right of locating, constructing, owning, using and maintaining a railway through Indian Territory. The railroad was authorized to take and use for all purposes of railway, and for no other purposes, a right of way one hundred feet in width through the Indian Territory for a main line and branch lines.
This east west line came into the Rock Island system in 1902 when the Rock Island purchased the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad Co. The CO&G had been formed in 1894 to take over existing small railroad lines and complete a through rail line from Memphis to Elk City, Oklahoma. These former lines included the Choctaw and Memphis Railroad Company in eastern Arkansas and the Choctaw Coal and Railway Co., in western Oklahoma. The line in Oklahoma was primarily a coal carrying railroad with branch lines into the coal mining regions. Some of these branch lines remained a part of the rail system until late 1930’s.
In October 1895, the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad launched a large scale expansion program and constructed the railroad track located between McAlester and Shawnee, Oklahoma. The railroad operated the line until April 1904 when the Rock Island System acquired the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf railroad and most of its property. In 1948, the Rock Island System reorganized under the name Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad Company (CRI & P) and operated the line between McAlester and Shawnee.
The current operation consisting of 70 miles from Howe, Oklahoma to McAlester, Oklahoma and 35 miles from Shawnee, Oklahoma to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma was part of the former Rock Island “Sunbelt Line” that extended for 874 miles from Memphis, Tenn., through Little Rock, Boonville, McAlester, Oklahoma City, El Reno, and Amarillo to Tucumcari, New Mexico. This rail line was also referred to as the “Choctaw Route”. This was an east west main line of the Rock Island that carried overhead through freight traffic, served local industries, and connected with other Rock Island main lines and the other major western rail carriers. When the Sunbelt line was operated by the Rock Island main lines there was considerable rail traffic that operated over the line. In 1977-79 there was over 6 million annual gross tons of rail traffic over the line. A substantial amount of this traffic was overhead traffic that did not originate or terminate on the AOK line segment.
The AOK rail line was owned by the Chicago Pacific Corporation (CP) as the successor of the reorganized Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad Company. The Rock Island bankruptcy proceedings commenced on March 17, 1975 under section 77 of the Federal Bankruptcy Act. Rail operations were continued by the Trustee until September 26, 1979 when the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) found the Rock Island cashless and ordered the Kansas City Terminal Ry. Co. to provide service over the Rock Island routes until March 23, 1980. Thereafter rail service was continued over certain line segments by other railroads under leases from the Rock Island estate and service orders of the ICC.
At the end of the Rock Island rail service the 117 mile segment from McAlester to Oklahoma City was operated by the MKT. This line was operated under an ICC service order and a long standing trackage rights agreement. The Rock Island estate was released from reorganization by the Bankruptcy court on June 1, 1984.
In 1980 the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway (Katy) took advantage of the liquidation of CRI & P and purchased several properties including the route In 1986 the State of Oklahoma purchased the East of McAlester to Howe line from LB Foster. The State entered a lease purchase agreement with the MKT railroad to operate the line and this continued until the MKT railroad was purchased by the Union Pacific railroad in 1991. The line was operated by Union Pacific until 1996 where the Union Pacific transferred all rights of the line to the A-OK railroad. The State of Oklahoma agreed to the deal, and the A-OK was off and running. With additional leases from the Union Pacific and the BNSF in place, the A−OK proudly operates 135 today.