Rare Palm Trees Provide Unique Growth Opportunity

Blue Hesper palm trees grow by UP rails at Phoenix Transload | MR

Blue Hesper palm trees grow alongside Union Pacific rails at the Phoenix Transload Facility, where they have coexisted with rail for more than 30 years.

The Phoenix Transload Facility offers transloading, storage and trucking solutions – but also has a unique item throughout the yard, Blue Hesper Palms.

Alongside the lines of rail cars are 26 acres of tree growth. Blue Hesper Palms are a rare species of environmentally friendly trees known for easy maintenance and draught tolerance.

Many of the palms at the Phoenix facility are over 30 years old. The site’s original owners took interest in sustainable gardening, planting the trees to create more value for the land. When Union Pacific purchased the 108-acre facility in 2019, there were questions about the palms’ future. Instead of removing them to make way for rail, Loup Logistics, a subsidiary owned by Union Pacific, developed a plan to sustainably market the trees while still focusing on the facility’s transload growth. In 2023, Loup partnered with Brigham Young University (BYU) through their on-campus internship program. Students learn about Union Pacific’s rail operations and supply chain and create content to market the Blue Hesper Palms.

"We are excited about the transload growth potential and service offered at the Phoenix site,” said Kiley Freeman, general director, Loup Logistics. “Working with BYU students for a semester to market the Blue Hesper Palms at this location offers a different lens into the supply chain.”

While early in the project, students are exploring markets where the trees can thrive, including arid West Coast conditions. Palms relocated from Phoenix can be seen in locations like SoFi Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Chargers and Rams, and host site of Super Bowl XVI. Trees have also been donated to the Phoenix Desert Botanical Society through Union Pacific’s Community Ties Giving Program.

Ultimately, the railroad’s goal is to sustainably relocate all 26 acres of the 108-acre facility. This will allow Loup to continue exceeding customers’ expectations while maintaining the legacy of the Blue Hesper Palms. To provide creative rail solutions and cost-effective transload operations, MHX, a newly acquired transload company, will join Loup in partnership at the site as the onsite operator mid-2024.

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