Rich in iron ore deposits and corn, the state is served by four Class I railroads and several shortline roads. Amtrak's Empire Builder makes several stops. Minnesota's first railroad was the St Paul & Pacific, which later becoming the Great Northern Railway, opening in 1862. There are almost 4600 miles of railways in use today.
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The Iron Horse Central Museum is a private museum with several wooden freight and passenger cars, a restored 1895 former Northern Pacific depot and steam locomotive, a Baldwin diesel, and a home-built motorcar dubbed the "Bumblebee". The Sunrise Northern Railway schedules train rides on weekends from June through October. See schedule for addition excursions. Directions
A model railroad display, in HO scale, is one of the highlights of the End-O-Line Railroad Park & Museum. This display is an authentic reproduction of the Currie railroad yards as they were around the turn of the century. The layout features scratch-built locomotives and structures, complete landscaping, a full wrap-around mural, complete sound effects and more.Directions.
OLD DEPOT RAILROAD MUSEUM
Great Northern Depot built in 1913, houses two floors of railroad memorabilia.CLOSE IN 2010
Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad's scenic train rides run from June to October. Ride in open window 1912 renovated coaches or an open Safari car pulled by a 1946 General Electric Center Cab 50T Type Industrial Switcher. The 1 hr 40 min trip follows the shoreline of the St. Louis River estuary, Spirit Lake and Mud Lake. This historic route provides a chance to view wildlife in its natural environment, while enjoying the majestic beauty of the river and surrounding area.Directions.
The Northshore Scenic Railroad's fully narrated ninety minute scenic train ride runs along Lake Superior to Lester River, making for a six hour round trip to Two Harbors, with several bridge crossings. Shorter excursion trips are available to Lester River. Wednesday thru Saturday evenings there's the popular Domino's Pizza Train. There are also specialty trains like the Elegant Dinner Train and a Murder Mystery Train. All of the train rides can be reserved as a group charter. Don't miss the cab action experience of riding Soo Lines 2-6-2 #2719 steam engine with the exciting action video posted on the North Shore Scenic railroad's website.Soo #2719 operates select summer weekend steam excursions.
The Lake Superior Railroad Museum has a large collection of railroad equipment, including steam, diesel and electric locomotives. On display is Minnesota's first locomotive, the Williams Crooks, built in 1861. It is one of but a few preCivil War engines remaining today. Displays also include a model railroad layout.Directions
The Minnesota Streetcar Museum focuses on the preservation of Minnesota's electric railway history by acquiring, restoring, maintaining, and operating a fleet of eight historic Minnesota streetcars. Streetcars run May through October, and includes a Halloween Ghost Trolley in October. Directions.
Day long steam powered scenic rail excursions over various Class I railroads around the Midwest are pulled by former Milwaukee Road 261, Northern type 4-8-4. All trips include coach, first class and premium class service. Observations cars include the Skytop lounge Cedar Rapids and a full length Super Dome. Excursions run between May and October.
Due to a Federal Railroad Administration mandatory inspection, #261 engine's current 1472- day inspection is set to expire Sept 2008. It will be out of service at that time to undergo an extensive inspection.UPDATE: Friends of the 261 has completed the mandatory rebuild of 261 in 2013.
The Minnesota Streetcar Museum runs the Como-Harriet Streetcar Line, while focusing on the preservation of Minnesota's electric railway history by acquiring, restoring, maintaining, and operating a fleet of eight historic Minnesota streetcars. Streetcars run May through October, and include a Halloween Ghost Trolley in October.Directions
Steam engine maintenance service facility offering train rides, classic bus tours, and interactive exhibits. The 1907 Jackson Street Roundhouse is located at Jackson Street & Pennsylvania Avenue, just north of the Capitol in downtown St. Paul. Built by the Great Northern Railroad to service their passenger-service steam locomotives. It was part of the historic Jackson Street shop complex which was founded just after the civil war. Notable Northern Pacific steam locomotives housed include NP 2153, a 4-6-2 "Pacific" type and NP 328, a light 4-6-0 "Ten Wheeler".
Located in historic Bandana Square, the Twin City Model Railroad Museum is an exquisitely detailed model panorama of railroads of the Twin Cities during the 1930′s, 1940′s and 1950′s. This was a time when both steam and diesel engines shared the rails. Bandana Square, known as the Como Shops, is where the Northern Pacific repaired and maintained their North Coast Limited along with other passenger trains.
Discover the Minnesota Zephyr, an elegant dining train offering a chance to experience a journey back in time and the opportunity to reminisce and relive the era of the late 1940's. The Minnesota Zephyr has five exquisitely restored dining cars. Each car is different in design and color, recreating the prestigious railroad dining of decades gone by. This exciting adventure and romantic three and one-half hour journey boards in the historic city of Stillwater and travels along the river, streams and woodland bluffs of the beautiful St. Croix River Valley. UNFORTUNATELY, THE MINNESOTA ZEPHYR HAS DISCONTINUED OPERATIONS.
The Two Harbors 1907 Depot Museum is the past headquarters of the Duluth & Iron Range Railroad, and highlights the early pioneering history of Lake County. Exhibits range from McDougal archeological dig artifacts and a Paleo-Indian display to the first shipment of Iron Ore from Minnesota and the vast logging companies from the turn of the 20th century. Daily round trip trains from Duluth to Two Harbors. Shorter trips are available to Lester River, and Wednesday thru Saturday evening excursions feature a fan favorite, the Domino's Pizza Train. Check for special Soo #2719 steam excursions.