Todd's Railfan Guide to

In General
Getting Here
Fire & Police


In General

Location / Name:
Sioux Falls SD, Minnehaha County

What's Here:

the Ellis and Eastern Co (RR)

GPS Coordinates: as needed
Phone A/C: 605
ZIP: 57103

Access by train/transit:

The Scoop:

Excerpts from the Trains Magazine blog:

Sioux Falls was once served by five different railroads: 1) the Chicago & Northwestern, 2) the Great Northern, 3) the Illinois Central, 4) the Milwaukee Road, and 5) the Rock Island.  The Rock Island abandoned their operations here in the early 1950's.  The Illinois Central abandoned operations here about 1972 or shortly thereafter.  The Chicago and Northwestern pulled out of Sioux Falls for the last time in 1988, and the Milwaukee Road abandoned their operations here a year later.

A little additional history on the railroads in Sioux Falls.  As already stated, Sioux Falls was served by five railroads up until the early 1970's.  The first to arrive was a predecessor of the Omaha (CNW) from Worthington (Org) MN.  The first to leave was the Rock Island in 1972 when a bridge washed out by Lester IA on their branch from Ellsworth MN to Sioux Falls.

The last train to run east out of SF on the Illinois Central was in the summer of 1981.  The vast majority of the IC's business from 1909 until 1969 were reefers full of swinging meat from the John Morrell packing plant.  IC's branch ran from Cherokee IA to Sioux Falls thru my home town of Hills MN.  I believe the MILW stopped running thru town around 1982.   They operated on a branch from Canton SD to Egan SD.  Up until the 1930's the MILW had a branch off the Egan line at Renner SD that ran northwest to Madison SD.  The Omaha pulled out last.  At one time the Omaha continued west from Sioux Falls to Mitchell.  That branch was abandoned around 1977.  The Illinois Central was abandoned after heavy rains washed out the trestle over the Big Sioux River.  They said in the paper it wasn't worth building a new one, so the rails were pulled back all the way to Cherokee.

I worked for the Buffalo Ridge RR on the former Omaha line into SF during the summer of 1988.  Shortly after I left their employ a junction was installed with the BN at Manley MN and they stopped running into Sioux Falls.  The BNSF (former GN/BN) is still serving the remaining customers in town.  The BNSF lies on a branch from Garretson SD that at one time ran all the way to Yankton SD.  The portion south of SF was abandoned around 1976.  The GN also had a branch from SF to Watertown SD. This line was cut back from Watertown shortly after the BN merger.

Today Sioux Falls is served by the BNSF, the D&I, and the E&E.  The Dakota & Iowa runs rock trains over the BNSF between Dell Rapids and Sioux City IA.  The Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern had trackage rights over the BNSF here.  And Sioux Falls has a shortline known as the Ellis & Eastern which is owned and operated by Concrete Materials - The Ellis & Eastern runs over trackage which was originally laid by the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific.  The CNW used to service the local Concrete Materials cement plant up until 1988.

You could say that Sioux Falls is on BNSF "secondary mainline".   They handle a fair amount of traffic, mostly grain, ethanol, and pink rocks passes through town, coming from somewhere else, headed to somewhere else.  The BNSF lies on a branch from Garretson SD that at one time ran all the way to Yankton SD.  The portion south of SF was abandoned around 1976.  The GN also had a branch from SF to Watertown SD.  This line was cut back from Watertown shortly after the BN merger.  Today BNSF still operates what's left of it to Wentworth SD where it connects to the former MILW west to Madison.  The Ellis & Eastern operated on the former Omaha line east to west thru SF.  They served the SD Cement Plant terminal, a small scrap metal dealer, and a few other small business's along with their owner, Concrete Materials.  Except for Concrete Materials, the BNSF now serve these business's.  The E&E also has trackage rights on the BNSF to Corson SD to serve their owners gravel pit.

The main industries are medicine, banking, meat packing, and being a regional distribution center.  Being a distribution center is tied to being at the crossroads of the state's only 2 interstates.  With the exception of lumber, most products for trade are shipped in and out by truck.

The above info came as a response from the following question: I recently read that Sioux Falls South Dakota is the fastest growing city in the Midwestern United States with over 125,000 people.  It is at the junction of I-90 and I-29 but it seems to have rather limited rail service; and is not on a transcontinental main line.  How does Sioux Falls rail service impact business wishing to re-locate there.  It has no corporate or state income tax, but is that enough for business to go to Sioux Falls?  The general consensus was: If it's like most other cities trying to attract new business, rail service won't be high on the list.  Most places want to attract white collar, professional type businesses.  They want the headquarters staff, not the production facilities.  Good highway access and a good airport is what they care about most.

Most of the BNSF Yard in downtown has been recently taken up, in a revival project for the downtown area.  In the process, a GN freight shed was torn down, but the old GN depot still stands and is used by BNSF.

Bill Kalkman
CanadianPacific2816, aka, RLII
Denver Todd
Google Maps
Open Railway Map
Bing Maps

Websites and other additional information sources of interest for the area:

Getting Here

Getting to G



Former Great Northern Depot

GPS Coordinates: 43.547920, -96.719995
503 E 8th St, Sioux Falls, SD 57103

It's now the local office for the BNSF, and was spared being torn down for the downtown revival.

  The BNSF Sioux Falls Yard

Not sure when they ripped it up, but most of it is gone, and the streets have been repaved where they tore up the tracks.

  Ellis and Eastern Railroad

1201 Russell St, Sioux Falls SD  57104
Phone: 605-357-6075

The Ellis and Eastern RR (reporting mark EE) is a railroad owned and operated by Sweetman Construction Company.

Operating on former Chicago and Northwestern (CNW) trackage, it was formed to ship Sioux Quartzite and other materials such as sand and gravel from a large quarry in Sioux Falls SD, for Sweetman Construction Company, which uses the railroad primarily to ship materials from the quarry it operates to a concrete plant nearby. Over time, the Ellis and Eastern has shipped more diverse products such as lumber, chemicals, machinery, scrapmetals, and grain to other customers.

Google captured one of their engines at the concrete plant....

2013, Bill Kalkman

  D&I Railroad

350 S Main Ave Suite 400, Sioux Falls SD 57104
Phone: 605-334-5000

  Great Northern Freight Shed

Now gone to make room for the downtown revival, but is included for historic purposes.









Fire and Police




Rice Street Diamond

Now gone, but you can see where it used to be....

Historical USGS Maps

Courtesy of the University of Texas Library, click here for their index page.


I love trains, and I love signals.  I am not an expert.  My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page.  This is something I have fun with while trying to help others.

Please Note:  Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.

If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct.  Once in a while, an error may creep in :-)

My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning.  Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented.  Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost!  I belong to AAA, which allows you to get local maps for free when you visit the local branches.  ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the railroads on them.  If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads.  Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.

Aerial shots were taken from either Google or Bing Maps as noted.  Screen captures are made with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it! 

By the way, floobydust is a term I picked up 30-40 years ago from a National Semiconductor data book, and means miscellaneous and/or other stuff.

Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit is always given!  Please be NICE!!!  Contact info is here

Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly inaccurate, wrong, or not true.


NEW 10/17/2020
Last Modified 18-Oct-2020