The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

New Business In La Harpe

Business Spotlight

by Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher

La Harpe is improving it's business climate which may bring some employment possibilities for some locals as well as bring tourism into the area.

Mayor Ken Brown has been working with Tom Black, project manager for the Pioneer Railcorp out of Peoria in getting water and sewer service for a new Engine House in La Harpe.

The 80' x 210' building will be located by the La Harpe Elevator on existing railroad property.

One existing building has already been remodeled and will be used for parts, Mayor Brown said.

The new building will have three separate tracks in it and will enable them to work on 9 locomotives at once, the mayor said.

They will also be installing around 1500 feet of new rail and could have up to 20 engines.

"They are figuring on employing at least 8 full-time positions."

"They encourage schools to tour their facility after they are open for business."

Brown said they are also trying to work with all local contractors.

"We chose La Harpe because it is around the center between Peoria and Keokuk, IA, and it seemed like a good fit. We have some pretty good property there," said Black in a phone interview last night.

"We have some employees that live within a few miles of La Harpe so it seemed good for a shorter commute."

"We will have 20-25 locomotives and probably a lot of people will come to see them which will bring people into the community."

He said their engines are black and yellow in color, but "we've got a variety of engines."

" We repair engines to lease out and for our own purposes," Black said.

"We have 100 locomotives and 17 operations in 10 different states and we use about 30 engines a day.

Black said their Repair House in Keokuk Repair was too small and they were anxious to move where they had more room.

"We will be employing some people to help, - mechanics and laborers," Black said, "how many, I don't know."

"Every day an engine is coming from Keokuk to Peoria carrying grain and commodities.. mainly from Roquette. It goes to Peoria one day and back the next .

"Our company has over 100 people workers, engineers, track repair, mechanics, etc. Our corporate office is in Peoria," Black said.

Black said Keokuk Junction Railway in Peoria, Ill is where applications are taken.

"We will be breaking ground in the next few weeks after we start clearing off land to build tracks for the new engine house.

"We're anxious to have it finished," he said. "We're going to be spending over a million dollars

Mayor Brown said he has been working with this project for about the last 3-4 months .


Pioneer Railcorp is a short line railroad holding company which owns sixteen railroads totaling over 535 miles in ten states. Pioneer roads serve over 250 customers including some of the largest industrial corporations in the United States.

Through Pioneer Railroad Equipment Co., Ltd., Pioneer Railcorp currently has a fleet of over 1,200 owned railcars, and presently owns over 90 locomotives and numerous pieces of specialized track maintenance equipment.

Pioneer's organization is managed through its corporate office located in Peoria, Illinois and includes a highly-skilled management team with strong railroad industry backgrounds.

Railcar Services

Pioneer Railroad Services, Inc. provides a variety of services to their customers, among them are:

In General

On March 12, 1996, Pioneer Railcorp purchased 93% of the common stock of KNRECO, Inc., an Iowa corporation d/b/a Keokuk Junction Railway (KJRY) from the shareholders, and purchased all of the remaining common shares of KJRY in April of 1996. KJRY operates a common carrier railroad line within the City of Keokuk, Iowa, from Keokuk to LaHarpe, Illinois, and a branch line from Hamilton to Warsaw, Illinois, a total of approximately 38 miles. In addition, KJRY owns all of the common stock of Keokuk Union Depot Company, an Iowa corporation that owns the former Keokuk Union Depot building, along with surrounding track and real estate. KNRECO, Inc. changed its corporate name to Keokuk Junction Railway Co. (KJRY) effective April 10, 1996

On December 19, 2001, the KJRY purchased 12.1 miles of track from LaHarpe to Lomax, Illinois and was assigned trackage rights from Lomax, Illinois to Ft. Madison, Iowa, a distance of approximately 15.5 miles over the BNSF, allowing the KJRY to interchange traffic with the UP.

The KJRY also interchanges with the BNSF at Keokuk.

The railroad's principal commodities are corn, corn germ, corn syrup, meal, gluten feed, and railroad wheels.

The Company's feeder line application on file with the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to acquire the assets of the west end of the Toledo Peoria and Western Railway (TPW) was granted on October 28, 2004.

The Company completed the acquisition on February 11, 2005 which added 76 miles from LaHarpe to Peoria, Illinois.

Profile of Railroad Services