In the 1850s the United States Government launched a series of explorations across the American West to discover suitable routes for cross-continent railroads. The Southern Pacific survey led by Lt. Amiel Weeks followed the 35th parallel from Oklahoma to California passing through a portion of what is now Petrified Forest National Park.
This route was later constructed in the early 1880s by the Atlantic-Pacific Railroad, later the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad, and currently the BNSF Railroad, which still operates the line today. The tracks cross the main park road north of the Rio Puerco (an overpass was constructed in 1933-34) and just east of the town of Adamana.
Prior to the establishment of the Petrified Forest National Monument in 1906 and during its early history, the station at Adamana was the main stopping point for visitors. Tourists could stay at the Forest Hotel and visit local attractions such as the various petrified wood forests, the Rio Puerco petroglyphs, and Agate Bridge, a natural bridge formed by a 100’ long petrified log that spans a 40’ gully.
The advent of the automobile and construction of good highways through the area in the 1920s ceased public railroad travel to the Petrified Forest, however, the route remains a busy thoroughfare for dozens of freight trains daily.