Coal is the most important rail commodity in the United States. In the early 2000s, when this map was produced, coal accounted for one of four cars loaded and slightly more than 20 percent of rail revenue. Eighty percent of the coal goes to the generation of electricity at steam power plants, so a map of these plants and their source of coal provides many insights into traffic patterns and railroad profitability.
Railroads included in this map:
BNSF Railway; Canadian National; Canadian Pacific; CSX Transportation; Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern; Iowa Northern; Guilford; Kansas City Southern; Norfolk Southern; Union Pacific