Superior’s Soo Line Station

May's Ghost Sign

Image: Dan Turner
Image: Dan Turner

It’s not often that we find a three-dimentional ghost sign, but here’s one from across the bay in Superior, Wisconsin. The city’s 1908 Soo Line Passenger Station, now retail shops and offices, closed as a train station in 1989. You can read more about the station here, where you will also find a postcard that indicates that the present sign was not the original sign.

May's Ghost Sign

2 Responses to Superior’s Soo Line Station

  1. I enjoyed the photo of the Soo Line Depot in Superior, one of three passenger train depots in Superior(the Union Depot for Great Northern and Northern Pacific’s passenger trains to the Twin Cities and the Omaha Depot for CStPM&O’s Omaha RR passenger trains to and from Chicago).

    In the heyday of passenger train service to the Twin Ports in 1946 at least twenty-four (24) passenger trains passed through Superior daily (6 Soo Line,6 Great Northern, 8 Northern Pacific and 4 CStPM&O “Omaha” trains).

    The Soo Line passenger train depot in Superior, WI handled departing and arriving trains connecting Thief River Falls, MN, departing and arriving trains connecting St. Croix Falls, WI, and departing and arriving trains connecting the Twin Ports with Chicago…the famous SOO Line “Laker” train, leaving Superior 8 pm in the evening to arrive in Chicago 8:15 am and another “Laker” train leaving Chicago 6:30 pm and arriving in Superior 7:50 am.

    My dad worked on the Duluth & Altoona RPO on the CStPM&O Chicago bound trains through Superior on the tracks opposite this Soo Line Depot where the old “Omaha” Depot was located. Often, as a boy, I would see the southbound SOO Line Laker at this depot from across the tracks (around 8 pm) as I awaited the CStPM&O’s “Chicago Limited” night train that pulled into Superior’s Omaha depot at 8:35 pm.

    Passenger depots like those in Duluth and Superior did not just serve passengers, but also were the center of communication and commerce. They drop off points for mail, money, and packages from Railway Post Offices and Railway Express cars on each train.

    Most of these passenger trains were subsidized by the U.S. Post Office to “run the mail” across the country and when RPO’s began to be discontinued by the USPO for faster and more efficient mail service in the 1960’s, these passenger trains were no longer cost effective for the railroads to run without RPO’s and were discontinued for an all freight business, ushering in the era of AMTRACK.

    All these abandoned depots are a reminder of a “golden age” of passenger train service in our country when the Twin Ports was a hub of some great passenger trains in the region, connecting the Twin Ports with daily passenger service to the Twin Cities and to Chicago and many smaller towns in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

    John Cartwright, an specialist in train depot art, did a color stencil picture of this SOO Line Depot in Superior and may have copies available for those interested. I have one hanging over my computer desk along with several other stencils he produced of the Twin Ports rail scene.

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