Train derails near Terry, dumping 29 coal cars

Crews contracted by BNSF work at clearing the track area just east of Terry of 29 derailed coal cars Tuesday morning after the tail end of an eastbound train derailed Monday evening. Rail traffic was still halted at press time, and officials had no exact estimate of when the area would be cleared. (Yellowstone Newspaper photo by Kay Hoffer)


An eastbound BNSF train derailed Monday evening about two miles east of Terry, with most of the 29 derailed cars spilling their loads of coal.

The accident scene included twisted railcars, piles of scattered coal and a line of flashing lights coming from BNSF railway vehicles as crews worked to clean up the debris Tuesday morning.

According to Matt Jones, BNSF director of public affairs for Montana and Wyoming, the derailment occurred at 9:10 p.m. on Monday. The derailed cars were toward the end of a 115-car train, which originated in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and was bound for Dayton’s Bluff, Minn. 

The cause and the extent of the damage are still under investigation, Jones said Tuesday morning in a telephone interview.

There were no injuries reported.

“We have a contractor involved, and they’re in the process of re-railing cars, repairing the track and cleaning up the spilled freight,” Jones said.

As of press time, the main BNSF line was still blocked.

“There will be limited delays on traffic traveling through this corridor,” Jones said.

Rail freight will either be delayed or re-routed for the time being.

The Prairie County Sheriff’s office was notified about the accident at about 9:30 p.m. Monday. 

According to local and BNSF officials, no crossings were blocked by the derailment. Strewn cars and piles of spilled coal hadn’t reached the highway. The cars hold an average of about 120 tons of coal each.

Jones had no service advisory yet to estimate how long travel would be affected or how long the cleanup would take.

“There is some length of track that will have to be repaired,” he said.

BNSF dispatched a work train from Glendive with ballast and rail to conduct the repairs, and other equipment including side booms and track hoes is used to realign cars, Jones explained.