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Workin’ on the Rail Road…book…

A detail of a photo showing the Northern Pacific Railway’s battery of switching locomotives used in its Rice’s Point Yard taken in 1914. (Image: UMD Archives)

Thanks to everyone who turned out to Glensheen for our annual February of Wednesday night Zenith City on Taps—and of course thanks to Glensheen’s fantastic staff for hosting the event and making it free for anyone who wants to attend, and to Bellesio’s for bringing the beer and wine. Next year’s presentations will include “Prohibition at the Head of the Lakes” and “Duluth’s 1889 City Hall’ (cancelled this year due to snow), and we’ll be working up something special for Duluth’s 150th anniversary of first becoming a city. And we’re open to suggestions, so if you have one please send us an email or post a comment below.

Meanwhile, Twin Ports rail road historian Jeff Lemke and I are busy piecing together Zenith City Press’s next book, a history of the first 100 years (1870–1970) of rail road history in Duluth and Superior. The book will cover everything from how the Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad resurrected an all-but-dead Duluth in 1870 through the end of passenger service to the Twin Ports—and if you know Jeff’s work from his own Twin Ports Rail History site, you know it will will be packed with plenty of fantastic photos. We are hoping to release the book in May 2020.

And you can help us put it together: Did you or one of your relatives work on a railroad in Duluth or Superior? Do you have stories to share, or perhaps photos or other images related to local rail history we could include in the project? Or maybe you just have questions you’d like to see answered in the book? Let us know by commenting below or emailing us.


  1. Laurel Saker on September 12, 2019 at 11:18 am

    My father was a Division Roadmaster from 1954 until his retirement in the 1960’s. I also worked for the Northern Pacific as did nt brother and our grandfather who immigrated from Sweden in the 1880’s to work on the Red River branch. If interested contact me with questions etc.
    Laurel Saker

  2. Mike Casey on January 30, 2020 at 11:34 am

    Wouldnt it be something special and exciting to do a little reenactment driving a spike along the existing Lake Superior & Mississippi rail line to celebrate the 150th anniversary of rail into Duluth. We could invite all the dignitaries that made it to a little celebration back in 1870 and even some that didn’t make it. Maybe the governor, both senators, mayors of Duluth and Superior, BN and CN officials.
    The location could be around the Munger Landing with a nice view of Spirit Lake along with parking and easy access. Of course, we could work with the existing LSMRR and the NSSR could both bring their volunteers and expertise to the group.
    The rail is what really helps the area boom and draw attention to the head of the lakes as a world-class harbor for export and import.
    The City’s plan for the Western Water Front Trail (now called Waabizheshikana or Marten Train) includes keeping the tracks so this could also bring more awareness to the City’s commitment to maintaining the City’s rail history with a rail and trail project.
    Whos on board?

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