Frank Nesbit of Bethel, Minn., started Independent Locomotive Service in 1979. He had 20 years experience as a mechanic for the Soo Line Railroad before he recognized the opportunity.
Major railroads don't want to bother with smaller lines," Nesbit explains. But they're happy to have a market for their old locomotives. Businesses such as grain elevators need them onsite to move cars around to load at their own plants.
Some of the businesses use short line tracks that Nesbit purchased in 2000 near Hinckley, Minn., Crookston, Minn., and Grafton, N. Dak. Privately owned locomotives can run on those tracks and deliver cars to be transported on the major railroads.