Rapid City to Mitchell


Map submitted by Joseph Loop.

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DM&E hopper cars are stored on the remaining grade leading into the DM&E yards in Rapid City. The red warning sign is the end of the usable trackage in Rapid City of the old Milwaukee mainline. Photo by Larry Gibson, March 2009.

A Milwaukee Road line once stretched across the southern part of South Dakota; it has since been abandoned around 1980, when the last train ran east out of Rapid City.

Today the tracks are inactive west of Mitchell, through Chamberlain, and on to Kadoka. From Kadoka to Rapid City, the tracks were removed and the grade is intact and owned by the state of of South Dakota.

Larry Gibson shares some of his photos of the abandoned line in the Rapid City area.

Thanks to Larry Gibson for contributing information about this route.

Very interesting article. It's a wonder that the rails are still there, although it might be a little DIFFICULT for a scrap scavenger to steal rails, possibly more than 100 pounds per foot. The Milwaukee had some great trains in the 1950s.

Neil Thornton
tawas city, MI


The rail Rapid City to Mitchell is 60 LB per 3 foot!

andy gekeler


The reason why Milwaukee Road stopped operating this line was due to bankruptcy proceedings which resulted in a great loss of there lines. They were officially bought out by the Canadian Pacific in 1985 although much of there tracks in Minnesota, North and South Dakota is owned and operated by the BNSF Railway. Burlington Northern, its predecessor did operate on this line til 85 when it was assumed by the Dakota Southern. They were doing a large amount of Bulk Grain Shipments for all the Grain Farmers till 2000 when BNSF changed there pricing structures. They did ran a grain train to Presho, South Dakota in 2007 and a coal train west of Mitchell for storage in January 2009. The new owners are attempting to reopen the line for a more efficient higher speed grain line due to the 60 pound rails and poor track conditions. (Trains can not even be operated in the middle of the day due to track concerns and much has a 10 mph speed limit and due to track conditions trains have to operate at even much less speeds). It might be possible that if the line restores profitability, BNSF might end up buying the line and absorb it to there network possibly all the way to Rapid City.

PS, much of the line from Kadoka to Rapid City is rail banked. It is banked in case if service can be restored. It saves from all of the hassle to start over from scratch.

Jason T
Perham, MN


I work at the plant in Mitchell served by this line.It is under new ownership and a three year restoration is planned from Mitchell to Murdo.I grew up in Wagner along the Platte to Napa Jnct.line in the 80's when Dak.Southern was also operating this line.Both of these lines need to resume operation because the enormous amount of grain produced in this region is all moved by truck to Sioux City and our highways get pounded to death.

Chad Anderson
Mitchell, SD


Dakota Southern is still operating from Mitchell to Chamberlain and is storing grain cars and coiled steel cars for per diem. Saw many cars at White Lake, Kimbal, and Chamberlain yards today.

West of Chamberlain and the Missouri River Bridge the route railbanked to Kadoka

Larry Gibson
Rapid City, SD


A couple of years ago they pulled up the rails from Rapid City to Farmingdale and built a bike trail. A local group is hoping to extend the trail all the way to Kadoka.

Butch Knouse
Lake Preston, SD


I wish they would resume service on this line, perhaps even for tourists, like the 1880s train only large scale from Mitchell to Rapid City. It is a very senic line.

Sioux Falls, SD


The rail line from Mitchell to Chamberlain is currently being restored. Drove by the line last week and they were replacing ties and switching the line from 60 pound per yard to 115-130 per yard. Eventually they would like to restore the line further west.

The reason for the restoration is for grain elevators to use the line. A lot of grain is raised in the Chamberlain/Kimball area and at least 2 groups have expressed interest in putting up a large elevator in the Chamberlain area.

Joseph Voigt
Spearfish, SD


Actually that won't be a bad idea. What use to be 10 mph, soon the Dakota Southern could operate up to 25-40 possibly 49 mph on it's line from Mitchell to Chamberlain, SD. If it continues to be profitable, the whole line from Mitchell to Rapid City could be restored. That might end up attracting a purchase from BNSF Railway.

Jason Trosvig
Ottertail, MN


I did an extensive photo study of line from Mitchell to Kadoka in September 2010. Use this link for 3 pages of pics:


Also another album with Rapid City operations over the last several years.

Use this link:


Click on Thumbnails for full photos

Larry Gibson
Rapid City, SD


The West River Trails Coalition is proposing the Railbanked segment from Rapid City to Kadoka be used as a recreational rail trail like the Mickelson Trail. https://www.facebook.com/WestRiverTrailsCoalition

Alex DeSmidt
Rapid City, SD


Funding is available and materials are being delivered to extend the Dakota Southern from Chamberlain, SD to Presho, SD.

Work will start this year.

Ground has already been broken at Kennebec, SD for a new grain handling facility.

Hope my father is looking down on all of this. He was a Telegrapher, Operator, and Station Agent for the CMStP&P RR Iowa, Minnesota, and Dakota Division from 1935 until his retirement in 1975. Slept, ate and lived for it and his job. He retired in Oacoma, SD and lived close to the main line. Waited and watched for every train and could always tell you how many cars on each train

He was very good friends with Alex Huff former owner of Dakota Southern. I know Alex very well and we both live here in Oacoma, SD. See him fairly often always has time to talk about railroads.

Charles R Kentch
Oacoma, SD


The line has been rebuilt from Mitchell to 1 mile west of Presho. New grain facilities have been constructed at Kimball and Kennebec. Motorcars still operate the US83 to Kadoka segment.

David Voeltz
Pierre, SD


Shortened Link: http://a-r.us/1bw
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Do you have any pictures or information about Rapid City to Mitchell? Please . You will get credit for anything you contribute.