One of the most popular scenic train rides in Minnesota is on the North Shore Scenic Railroad with daily round trips between Duluth and Two Harbors from May though October. The Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad runs scenic train rides from June to October. You can catch a train ride on the Sunrise Northern Railway during summer weekends at the Iron Horse Railroad Park.
The Milwaukee Road No.261 has return to service after it completed it’s mandatory inspection. The historic 4-6-2 Soo #2719 is currently undergoing its mandated Federal Railroad Administration rebuild. The Twin City Model Railroad Museum has an extensive O Gauge model train display.
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There are 42 steam locomotives in Minnesota and of course, not all of them are operational. Only three Missabe 2-8-8-4s are preserved today. The cosmetically restored DM&IR Yellowstone #229 is on display in Two Harbors at the Duluth and Iron Range Depot Museum. Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railway #225 is on display in Proctor and #227, wonderfully preserved after under going a major cosmetic restoration in late 2011, is on display in Duluth.
Pacific type NP 2153 is on exhibit at the Jackson Street Roundhouse. The wood-burning Minnetonka was the first locomotive to see service for the Northern Pacific Railway is now on display at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum.
With Minnesota 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 daily stops while traveling from Chicago to Seattle. The state’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.
The Iron Horse Central Railroad 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
An HO scale model railroad display 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. CLOSED 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. Train ride follows six miles of the original tracks leading into Duluth from the Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad. Trains run weekends from April until October. Directions.
The North Shore 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. Until 2013, the North Shore Scenic used former Soo Line 4-6-2 No. 2719 for steam excursions out of Duluth, but the locomotive came due for its federally mandated 1472-day overhaul. That engine’s final run was on Sept. 14, 2013.
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 1861 4-4-0, Williams Crooks, that last ran under steam to the 1948 railroad fair in Chicago. It is one of but a few preCivil War steam engines remaining today. Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range 2-8-8-4 No. 227, one of only 3 surviving Yellowstones preserved, is also on display at the LSRM. Displays also include a model railroad layout.
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. The Excelsior Streetcar Line runs May through October and includes a Halloween Ghost Trolley in October. Directions.
The “Friends of the 261” is a volunteer group that supports the operation of Milwaukee Road 261. Day long steam powered scenic rail excursions operate 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 completed the mandatory rebuild in 2013.
Como-Harriet Streetcar Line operates nostalgic streetcar rides aboard historic streetcars following a scenic route along Lake Harriet, part of Minneapolis’ famed Chain of Lakes. Enjoy lakeside refreshments, picnic grounds, ducks to feed, concerts of all kinds, boats and canoes for rent, a playground, the Roberts Bird Sanctuary, the Rose and Rock Gardens, and a series of bicycle and walking trails.
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 Railway 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. Northern Pacific steam locomotives housed at the roundhouse 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 Depot Museum began as the 1907 headquarters of the Duluth & Iron Range Railroad and today highlights the early pioneering history of Lake County. Exhibits include artifacts from the McDougal archeological dig and a Paleo-Indian display. Additional displays include the first shipment of Iron Ore from Minnesota and the history of the vast logging companies that operated around the turn of the 20th century. North Shore Scenic Railroad operates daily round trip trains from Duluth to Two Harbors. Shorter trips are available to Lester River. Wednesday thru Saturday evening excursions feature a fan favorite, the Domino’s Pizza Train. Soo 4-6-2 #2719, built by Alco in May 1923 and one of six H-23 class Pacifics built for the Soo Line, ended steam excursions after the 2013 season, due to its mandated Federal Railroad Administration rebuild. DM&IR Yellowstone #229 is one of three Missabe 2-8-8-4s that are preserved today and is on display at the museum.