Welcome to Friends of BNSF!

If any of the following describes you, then this might be just the website for you:

  • You want to know more about how BNSF contributes to our way of life;
  • You or a family member works at BNSF;
  • You or a family member has retired from BNSF or one of its predecessor companies;
  • You want to explore the rich history of BNSF;
  • Or, you just flat out love trains!

From historic photos and videos to a library of resources about BNSF to free downloadables like wallpaper and ringtones, we've got plenty for you to check out. Take a look at the sample stories below. Then, join the site.




BNSF sponsors 2014 San Bernardino Railroad Days

 

BNSF Railway sponsored this year’s San Bernardino Railroad Days on April 12 and 13 and provided an Ultra-Low Emissions switching locomotive for the public to view. The steam locomotive Santa Fe No. 3751 was also on hand after bringing more than 200 passengers from Los Angeles Union Station to attend the event, which took place at the San Bernardino History and Railroad Museum.

More than a dozen BNSF employees from several departments took part in supporting the event; some are pictured here.

One of several BNSF booths at the event demonstrated how railroad crossing signals work.

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BNSF sponsors 2014 San Bernardino Railroad Days

Past to present: Minot, ND and BNSF

Minot, North Dakota is a railroad town in the truest sense of the term. Now the fourth largest city in North Dakota with a population of more than 40,000, “The Magic City” began as a tent city of less than 600 railroad workers. Officially established in 1887, the city’s origin goes back further to a brutally cold winter, a defunct railroad and a man who saw potential where others saw only ruin.

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Past to present: Minot, ND and BNSF

A day on the rails with Tie Production Gang 06


Maintaining more than 32,000 route miles of track is no simple task. BNSF assigns scores of Engineering work gangs to projects based on ongoing maintenance and expansion plans. There are section gangs headquartered in specific locations who handle projects within their assigned territory and production gangs that travel systemwide to work on larger projects. These system gangs specialize in tie production, rail production, undercutting and concrete tie production. BNSF’s 11 tie production gangs play a key role in installing and replacing more than 3 million ties a year. One team that has consistently performed their work safely and productively is TP-06. Here is their story.
 



Tie Production Gang 06 (TP-06) is unfazed by the summer sun as they work their way north from milepost 133.9 on the Spanish Peaks Subdivision near Pueblo, Colo. It’s early June and the 52 workers started with a job safety briefing at 5:30 a.m. Their goal today is to replace 1,560 ties.
 



The members of TP-06 listen and take notes as Roadmaster Chris Jennings briefs them on the day’s plan.

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A day on the rails with Tie Production Gang 06

First female engineer for ATSF reflects on road less traveled

In 1973, America was in a state of flux. A cease-fire was declared in Vietnam, and exhausted troops were on their way home. The World Trade Center opened in Manhattan. Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd had just been released, and the Watergate Scandal was sweeping the nation.

That same year, in a tiny corner of West Texas, 19-year-old Christene Gonzales watched the sweltering days of another El Paso summer creep in to her quiet desert town and settle like a dust cloud. Like many teenagers fresh out of high school, she was taking classes at her local university, yet was at a loss with what to do with herself. 

One afternoon she sat with her mother in the local restaurant – a hot spot for those employed at the railroad – pondering her future. Gonzales’ mother planted the seed of going to work for the railroad. Initially, she suggested that her daughter become a locomotive fireman.

Even though Gonzales’ bloodline was thick with railroader heritage extending back several generations, she was “completely clueless” about train operations. When the discussion veered toward the possibility of becoming a locomotive engineer, Gonzales thought, “What the heck!”

She applied, interviewed (during the course of which she was asked some unusual questions, including whether she could explain the principles of a pulley system) and was hired. Her training began in May of 1973 and finished in early 1974. 

Gonzales’ first day on the job was quickly approaching. She remained calm and collected, unaware of the rest of the world’s fascination with what was about to take place. Unbeknownst to her, Gonzales was about to become the first female locomotive engineer for the Santa Fe Railway. Her mother asked if she minded the media being present for her first day.

“I’m amazed at how naïve I was. I remember seeing my mom and dad and grandparents, who had driven up to see me take off for the first time! I couldn’t comprehend why it was such a big deal,” she recalled.

Best foot forward

Christene Gonzales’ career was off and rolling, literally. Her first assignment was in Socorro, N.M.

“I always tried to put my best foot forward. I had a lot to learn. I had to study hard and pay attention. You had to be on top of your game at all times,” says Gonzales.

Working for the railroad became something of a passion for her, and it also brought Robert Aldeis into her life. He was a conductor/brakeman also working in El Paso. In 1980, they were married, and the birth of their daughter, Desiree, became the catalyst that would inspire Gonzales (now Aldeis) to seek a life beyond the front end of a locomotive.

“The restroom situation was not ideal,” she says. “Men had locker rooms and bathrooms. I had morning sickness and no bathroom!” Christene Aldeis requested a leave of absence. “I thought the world revolved around running trains. I didn’t know there were other roads open.”

After the birth of her second daughter, Ashley, in 1985, Aldeis was growing impatient. She had returned to railroading but yearned to be what she describes as “mother of the year.” She took a second brief sabbatical. Around this time, the Santa Fe Railway developed a reserve board, not unlike the U.S. Military’s Reserves, due to the surplus of firemen. Employees were chosen in accordance with seniority and placed on reserve. They were on call, at the railroad’s discretion, and still received a regular paycheck. The situation was perfect for Aldeis and her growing family. She continued serving the railroad from a reservist’s perch while doing things that “moms do” for the next few years.

Once her girls were off to school, it was time for Aldeis to yet again find something to do with herself. Over the years, she developed a passion and fascination for railroad safety. She remembers looking out the window of her locomotive at the pedestrians below and occasionally questioning the reasoning behind their behavior – placing things on or walking aimlessly on the tracks. She was and is a staunch believer in railroad education.

Operation Lifesaver Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to the elimination of railroad-related collisions and fatalities through education and awareness, was just the place for to expand her horizons once more. She volunteered for the first time in 1989.

Then, in 1995, the BNSF merger occurred, and not long after, in 1997, Aldeis applied for and became a field safety support manager. She was later promoted to regional manager, Field Safety Support.
 

Aldeis continued to reside and work in her hometown of El Paso, where she led safety classes for industrial truck and school bus drivers and reviewed private crossings that were redundant or had alternate access as part of BNSF’s crossing-closure program. She also presented Operation Lifesaver workshops to law enforcement agencies, emergency responders and other organizations. 

Her life today is a culmination of passion and dedication. The career path she chose was often the road less traveled. Through hard work and determination, she is proud to say she worked for the railroad in one fashion or another for over 35 years.

“It was certainly something, to take off on that train with everyone watching you and knowing you did it,” she recalls. “And knowing your hard work was starting to pay off.”

Christene Aldeis retired from BNSF in 2012.

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First female engineer for ATSF reflects on road less traveled