Lineside Legacy - June, 2002

The Lake Superior Railroad Museum


The Lake Superior Transportation Museum is housed under the platform canopies of Duluth's Union Depot. The William Crooks (below) is one of the museum's prize pieces, built in 1861. It was the first steam locomotive delivered to Minnesota. Also in the museum are Milwaukee Road boxcab electric No. 10200, built in 1915 and Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range 2-8-8-4 No. 227 a 1941 graduate from Baldwin (above).
LOCATED IN THE HEART of downtown Duluth, Minnesota, is the Lake Superior Railroad Museum, a superb collection of restored steam and diesel locomotives, rolling stock and railroad hardware. Unlike many other big railroad museums in the U.S., the LSRM is located in appropriately historic surroundings, housed in Duluth's former Union Depot which was built in 1892 to serve area roads such as the Great Northern and Northern Pacific. (The French Chateau-style building was converted into recreational space in the early 1970s after the last passenger train departed in 1969.) "The Depot," as the complex is known, is also home to a children's museum and an art gallery, but the main attraction has always been the trains. To reach the railroad exhibits you must descend the steps down to track level, where the formerly open-air station platforms have been enclosed to provide year-round protection for the exhibited equipment.

Entering the LSRM, the first item that greets a visitor is the William Crooks, a vintage 4-4-0 lovingly preserved over the years by the Great Northern. Since 1975, this 1861-built American (a product of the New Jersey Locomotive & Machine Company) has stood silent vigil on track 6, a reminder of the early days of steam railroading in the upper Midwest. Famous as the first locomotive in Minnesota the William Crooks was initially owned by the Minnesota & Pacific Railroad and traveled by steamboat. Through a series of good fortunes, the Crooks was spared the scrapper to become the GN's goodwill ambassador and, after years of hard service, was backdated by the railroad in the 1920s to its as-built appearance for exhibit at fairs and other GN functions. When it became too fragile to operate under steam, the 4-4-0 was donated to the Minnesota Historical Society and spent many years on display inside the St. Paul Union Depot before moving to Duluth in the mid-1970s. Today the Crooks is by far the most lavishly decorated locomotive in the museum, and is exhibited along with two vintage coaches that accompanied it to the 1949 Chicago Railroad Fair, among other events.

Less extravagant but no less historic is the Minnetonka, an 1870 Smith & Porter 0-4-0T which is said to have been the first steam locomotive purchased by the Northern Pacific; it was used to power work trains during the construction of the NP main line west of Duluth. In 1886 the Minnetonka was deemed too small for further use, and was sold to the Poison Logging Company of Washington State where it continued in service well into the 20th century. Then, when the NP learned of its existence in 1933, they reacquired the 0-4-OT and backdated it to an earlier appearance with a new cab, stack, headlight, and paint job. Like the William Crooks, the Minnetonka spent many years as a corporate mascot, traveling around the NP system and participating in various civic functions. It came to the LSRM for display in 1974, and is on long term loan from owner BNSF.

Dwarfing the tiny Minnetonka is the largest steam locomotive on display, 2-8-8-4 No.227 from the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range. Constructed by Baldwin in 1941, the big Yellowstone was expertly restored by DM&IR shop forces in the mid-1970s prior to the opening of the museum, and today it occupies a place of prominence on track 5. It is also one of the most popular exhibits, as three times an hour No. 227's lights come on, sounds are emitted from the boiler, and its 63" drive wheels slowly revolve (the wheels are elevated slightly above the rails and are powered by electric motors). No. 227's cab is also open, and visitors are invited to try out the engineer's seat or peer into the firebox.

Equally impressive in size is Milwaukee Road boxcab electric No.10200, which is displayed alongside the Yellowstone. It was the first of 42 boxcab electrics built by GE in 1915 for the CM&StP's electrified trackage in Washington, Montana and Idaho, and was the largest electric locomotive in the world at the time. Remarkably, No. 10200 was still in service (and quite possibly the oldest active locomotive on a Class One railroad) when the Milwaukee pulled down the wires in 1974. It was restored to its as delivered paint scheme and came to Duluth for permanent display - a gift from the Milwaukee Road - in 1977.

While the above four items garner much of the attention, there are many smaller pieces of equipment that deserve mention. Other locomotives displayed include Minnesota Steel 0-4-0T No.7, a 1915 Porter affectionately known as the "Seven Spot"; Duluth & Northeastern 2-8-0 No. 28, which became the last steam locomotive in Minnesota to operate in revenue freight service (it was retired in 1965); and Northern Pacific 2-6-2 No. 2435, which was brought to the museum in 1978 after being displayed at the Duluth zoo for 24 years. Also in the collection is the first diesel-electric to be placed in service on the Iron Range, Oliver Iron Mining No. 900 (a 1940 Alco HH-1000); and a 1928 steeplecab electric from the Hanna Mining Company.

The rolling stock collection is no less impressive. On track 1 can be seen the oldest standard-gauge Leslie rotary snowplow in existence, Northern Pacific No.2 (built by Cooke in 1887) and an assortment of work equipment. There is also a 1913 NP wrecking crane; wood boxcars from the Duluth & Iron Range and GN; a rare narrow-gauge boxcar from the Caledonia, Mississippi & Western; and an assortment of wood and steel passenger coaches from the DM&IR, GT, GN and NP.

Part of the LSRM's charm comes from "Depot Square," a collection of 22 storefront exhibits that are replicas of actual buildings that existed in Duluth during 1885-1910. During the summer the public is invited to take a short ride down Depot Square's main street aboard a restored narrow-gauge streetcar from Lisbon, Portugal, which travels from the exhibit building out into the railroad yard. The trip is short but gives visitors a taste of what it was like to ride Duluth's street railways around the turn of the century. Also on occasion, the museum's little 15-ton, 200 h.p. Mack industrial switcher (built in 1931) pulls a Northern Pacific caboose around the grounds when the trolley is not running.

Besides the static exhibits and the trolley ride, the LSRM owns and operates its own tourist railroad, the North Shore Scenic. On most summer days you'll find one of the LSRM's operable diesel locomotives standing behind the depot heading up a string of heavyweight coaches waiting to take a load of passengers up the 26-mile ex-DM&IR Lakefront Line to Two Harbors. Frequently powering these trains is the museum's immaculate Great Northern NW5, built by EMD in 1946 and restored jointly by museum volunteers and Michigan's Escanaba & Lake Superior in 2000. Former Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range SD18 No.193 (EMD 1960) is also a regular performer; it was donated by the Missabe in 1998 and was recently overhauled in their Proctor shops to ensure its continued service on the North Shore Scenic. (Ironically, this locomotive was one of a 19-unit order that sealed the fate of the Missabe's 2-8-8-4s - the museum's No. 227 included -- in the early 1960s.)

New this year is former Wisconsin Central GP30 No. 700, which was donated by Canadian National in March 2002. It was built in 1963 for the Soo Line as part of a 22-unit order of GP30s, and is distinctive in that it rides on trucks from Soo Alco FA's that were salvaged and rebuilt by EMD in order to cut costs on the GP3O order. No.700 became a Wisconsin Central locomotive in 1987, and was finally retired after the CN/WC merger with 39 years of service under its belt. The unit is reported to be operational, and is slated to receive a fresh coat of Soo red and gray when funding becomes available.

Other Soo Line relics that now call the LSRM home include wide-vision cupola caboose No.1 (built in 1966, the first steel caboose on the Soo) which was recently presented to the museum by Canadian Pacific Railway and FP7 No.2500, which was built in 1949 and restored to operation by the LSRM in 1995. Additionally, the Soo Line Historical & Technical Society stores at Duluth their ex-Copper Range No. 200, a 1951 Baldwin S12 which is awaiting restoration.

From 1992-1998 steam excursions ran on the North Shore behind the museum's own Baldwin 2-8-2, former Duluth & Northern Minnesota No. 14, built in 1913 and restored by LSRM volunteers beginning in 1986. Today the engine is out of service pending boiler repairs, but steam power is still seen on the line to Two Harbors nearly every time Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No.261 comes to town. In fact, the 261 has become a somewhat frequent visitor to the North Shore Scenic, and as of this writing was scheduled to power a special train over the line in May.

Used during the off season (and also used for powering shorter trips to Lester River) is an RDC-1, No.9169, which is the oldest operating RDC is the United States having been one of the first ten constructed by the Budd Company in 1950 for the Reading.

With such an extensive operating fleet, it may come as a surprise that the LSRM has traditionally stored and maintained most of its operating equipment outdoors. Indeed, for the past 25 years, most heavy equipment restoration, painting and other work has been performed off-site, as no suitable facility existed to conduct such work. In addition, once restored, many of the locomotives and cars that make up the operating fleet were constantly exposed to the elements, as the only covered shelter available was located underneath the Depot's parking garage. Now, after 10 years of planning and fund raising, the museum has constructed a new maintenance facility, the Lenard Draper Memorial Building, which was completed in October 2001. Current restoration projects being worked on inside the new building include DM&IR wood caboose C-9 (built in 1893 by the Duluth Car Manufacturing Company) and the 1893 Duluth, Missabe & Northern wood business car Missabe. The latter is especially notable because for years the Missabe was used, minus its trucks, as a summer home in Hudson, Wisconsin. In 1998 the family that owned the car donated it to the museum, and since that time LSRM volunteers, headed up by Curator Tom Gannon, have spent many hours restoring the car to its original splendor.

Two lightweight coaches that were donated to the LSRM by Burlington Northern in the 1970s are currently being repainted into their GN colors (both have been used for years on the North Shore Scenic trains). These cars, Nos.A-14 and A-15, were built in 1950 for service on the GN's International between Vancouver, British Columbia, and Seattle. Some of this work is being performed at Escanaba, Michigan, in the shops of the Escanaba & Lake Superior.

As you can see, the LSRM is a mix of old and new, and is well worth a visit whether your interests lie with steam, diesel or electric railroading. In 2002, the museum appointed a new executive director, Ken Buehler, who is working on a number of worthy projects including returning 2-8-2 No.14 to service and the continued restoration of the Missabe. There are other historic rail-related attractions in close proximity to the museum as well, including DM&IR 2-8-8-4s displayed in both Proctor and Two Harbors (the latter is exhibited with DM&IR's first locomotive, a 1883 Baldwin 2-6-0, at the Lake County Historical Society Museum); Duluth & Northeastern 2-8-0 No.16, displayed at a city park in nearby Cloquet; and the Lake Superior & Mississippi tourist railroad which runs along the St. Louis River near the Duluth Zoo.

CN 2-8-0 No. 2141

The Kamloops Heritage Railway Society of Kamloops, British Columbia recently completed the restoration of former Canadian National 2-8-0 No.2141 and moved the engine under its own power (via Canadian Pacific trackage) to a brand new 50'xlOO' restoration shop complex in Kamloops. The Consolidation was previously housed (and was restored by Society members) inside a leased city-owned building.

The Canadian Locomotive Works built No.2 141 in 1912 for the Canadian Northern Railway, which merged with the Canadian National in 1923. After retirement, the engine was donated to the city of Kamloops and placed on display at Riverside Park in 1961, where it sat until restoration began a few years ago. While the 2141 still looks essentially as it did when in regular service, it has been converted from coal to oil firing and is now outfitted with a twin sealedbeam headlight, ditch lights and a solid pilot, which will allow it to operate on main line trackage. The tender is tastefully lettered "Kamloops Heritage Railway."

Plans are in the works to offer excursions behind the 2141 on area railroads; watch R&R's TIMETABLE for information on these trips when it becomes available.

Utah Steam Locomotive Damaged

In a story that sounds too bizarre to be true, former Southern Pacific 0-6-0 No.1297, which has been stored outdoors at the Utah State Railroad Museum in Ogden after its removal from a city park, was damaged on March 4, 2002, when it was struck by a 1971 Monte Carlo traveling at a high rate of speed. According to the Ogden StandardExaminer, the driver, who was apparently unfamiliar with the area, ran through a stop sign on 26th Street and into the side of the locomotive. The collision killed the driver and shoved the 1297's Vanderbilt easily repaired. No.1297 was built b Brooks in 1908 for the Arizona Eastern Railroad Company and was originally numbered 38. It became Southern Pacific 1297 in 1924 and was donated to the City of Ogden for display in 1959.

RS1 Donated to Museum of Transportation

In January the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad donated 1943 Alco RS1 No.22 and a former Boston & Maine 1899 wood combine, A&M No.102, to the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis. The donation was made through the efforts of Ton Hannold, A&M's Chairman of the Board.

No.22 was built for the Atlanta & St Andrews Bay and originally carried the number 905. After changing hands several times, it was acquired by the Arkansas & Missouri, which used it (and also the combine) as part of their tourist train operation out of Springdale, Arkansas. The RS1 remains operable, and will be used from time to time for demonstration runs a the museum. Current plans are to leave the equipment in its Arkansas & Missouri livery. - www.rypn.org

Update on Sierra Steam

The restoration of Sierra Railroad 4-6-0 No.3 at the Railtown 1897 State Historic Park at Jamestown, California, is progressing nicely. As of early March No.3 which was built by Rogers in 1891, had been completely disassembled and heavy repairs were being made to its boiler and firebox. The running gear is reportedly ir good condition and, after the boiler work is completed, the engine will be reassembled and returned to service.

The news is not so good regarding the Sierra's Baldwin 2-8-0 No. 28, which normally holds down the railroad's summer excursion schedule. While undergoing some routine work earlier this year, a crack was discovered in No. 28's superheater header which will require a significant amount of repair before the engine can steam again. While the work is being done, the Sierra will use ex-Feather River Railway three truck Shay No.2, which underwent a major overhaul last year and is now in excellent mechanical condition.

Also worthy of mention is the famous "Petticoat Junction" water tank at Jamestown, which was found to be badly deteriorated. During March the tank was dismantled to allow the installation of new support timbers, and it is currently scheduled to be reconstructed to its original appearance, including the unique roof that covers the open-top tank. - Trainorders

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