Railroad Junction Redux

Missabe Junction, Part 3

Today the area within Duluth known as Missabe Junction has settled into a simpler operating scheme than in years gone by. Changes propagated by urban renewal and freeway construction have destroyed a good deal of the original neighborhood surrounding it, but modifications made to the railroad tracks actually increased the type of services those railroads could provide from this location. This month we look back to the mid-1960s to see what the railroads did here to improve things. Generally speaking, railroad facilities are historical moving targets. They are in a constant state of flux. As we will see, this was a true rebirth of the industrial area near 27th Avenue West.

In 1984 transfer jobs like this one were still a familiar sight at Missabe Junction. This one is heading back to Proctor with cars from Rice’s Point yard. One of the industries that flourished here in the 1970s was Century Motor Freight shown in the background. In between the tracks and the truck terminal is the I-35 expressway that essentially divided Slabtown into two pieces. (Image: Allen W. Clum, Twin Ports Rail History Collection)
In 1984 transfer jobs like this one were still a familiar sight at Missabe Junction. This one is heading back to Proctor with cars from Rice’s Point yard. One of the industries that flourished here in the 1970s was Century Motor Freight shown in the background. In between the tracks and the truck terminal is the I-35 expressway that essentially divided Slabtown into two pieces. (Image: Allen W. Clum, Twin Ports Rail History Collection)
This westerly view from January 1966 shows the dead of winter at Missabe Junction. The ore season is over for now. On top of the Missabe ore docks are a pair of derrick cranes that are removing and stacking the dock chutes for annual maintenance. The only cars showing in the upper yard at right are gondolas filled with pulpwood harvested for the paper and hardboard industry. But these are normal occurrences here. Changes include the removal of both the Missabe Junction depot and the old 27th Avenue West overpass. At left a new steel freight house for the Northern Pacific is being constructed along the relocated Duluth Transfer Railway right-of-way. (Image: C. F. Sager, Twin Ports Rail History Collection)
This westerly view from January 1966 shows the dead of winter at Missabe Junction. The ore season is over for now. On top of the Missabe ore docks are a pair of derrick cranes that are removing and stacking the dock chutes for annual maintenance. The only cars showing in the upper yard at right are gondolas filled with pulpwood harvested for the paper and hardboard industry. But these are normal occurrences here. Changes include the removal of both the Missabe Junction depot and the old 27th Avenue West overpass. At left a new steel freight house for the Northern Pacific is being constructed along the relocated Duluth Transfer Railway right-of-way. (Image: C. F. Sager, Twin Ports Rail History Collection)
Looking east, it’s clear that the old bridge is now gone. Concrete work is underway for the new bridge footings. The track at right is the temporary shoe-fly connecting the NP Short Line with the Duluth Transfer line. (Image: C. F. Sager, Twin Ports Rail History Collection)
Looking east, it’s clear that the old bridge is now gone. Concrete work is underway for the new bridge footings. The track at right is the temporary shoe-fly connecting the NP Short Line with the Duluth Transfer line. (Image: C. F. Sager, Twin Ports Rail History Collection)
Cement and iron workers have been busy erecting the NP’s new freight house at Missabe Junction. Although the NP had a similar brick structure just east of Duluth Union Depot, that building was slated for demolition to make room for eventual expressway expansion. A new structure was required. (Image: C. F. Sager, Twin Ports Rail History Collection)
Cement and iron workers have been busy erecting the NP’s new freight house at Missabe Junction. Although the NP had a similar brick structure just east of Duluth Union Depot, that building was slated for demolition to make room for eventual expressway expansion. A new structure was required. (Image: C. F. Sager, Twin Ports Rail History Collection)
Here’s another view of the shoe-fly track from May 1966 showing that this was a fairly steep connection. The new freight house is taking shape while business at the ore dock has returned for another season. (Image: C. F. Sager, Twin Ports Rail History Collection)
Here’s another view of the shoe-fly track from May 1966 showing that this was a fairly steep connection. The new freight house is taking shape while business at the ore dock has returned for another season. (Image: C. F. Sager, Twin Ports Rail History Collection)

Missabe Junction, Part 3

3 Responses to Railroad Junction Redux

  1. Hi Guys –
    Thanks for the feedback. I’m happy to hear that these old images have brought back into focus some of your own memories of this part of town. That’s the great thing about photographs. They help to rekindle what it was like back in the day. In this case, the 1960s in Duluth, which was a period of great change in the Twin Ports. Mr. Sager managed to take 6,970 black & white shots with his camera before he passed away in 1982. The vast majority of those pictures were taken on the Duluth side of the bay. But he made a few trips to Superior too. In contrast, my camera was focused more on the Superior side of the bay, with a bit of Duluth thrown in for good measure. So between Clarance and me, there are about 25,000 images of railroad and industrial subjects concentrated in the years 1961 to 1985. I’m happy to share some of these images here as I develop new stories for ZCO. And I plan to make many more of them available in 2016 from my website and through my newsletter too. Thanks for reading what we enjoy creating. Take care. Cheers!

  2. Amazing what the memory forgets after 50 years. Thank you C. F.Sager for sharing the photos from the Twin Ports Rail History Center. Sometimes the memory needs reminding and this article did that for me.
    Great article, Jeff.

  3. Sure do miss the old days of Duluth, and all that went on in those days. Ship’s that carried railroad car’s from Duluth,Mn.;to other port’s on the Great Lake’s.

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