Francis E. House

Frank House, who came to Duluth in 1901 to be president of the Duluth & Iron Range Railway. (Image: Duluth Public Library.)

Francis E. House has been a resident of Duluth over twenty years and is president of the Duluth & Iron Range Railroad Company. Under the Federal administration of the railroads he was manager of the Duluth, Missabe & Northern Railroad and of the Duluth & Iron Range Railroad.

Mr. House came to his position as a railroad executive after many years of hard work in subordinate positions, beginning as a civil engineer, and assisting in the construction of some of the pioneer lines of railroad in the west.

He was born November 15, 1855, at Houseville, Lewis County, New York, son of Henry A. and Mary E. (Goff) House. His father, a native of New York state, had a common school education and was a business man of high abilities. For many years he was an active figure in banking and insurance circles. As a Republican he was interested in national and local politics, though he never consented to hold office. He was a member of the Episcopal Church, was a Knight Templar Mason, and at one time was a state officer in the New York Knight Templars.

The oldest in a family of four boys, Francis E. House was educated in the common schools, in a preparatory school at Rochester, and studied engineering and chemistry, though he never graduated, at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at Troy, New York. Leaving the Institute at the age of twenty-two, his first experience was in assaying and mining engineering work in Nevada. His work as a railroad man began in 1880, in which year he was with a surveying party for the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul, and did engineering work for other lines of railroads until 1883. In that year he became division roadmaster in the track department of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul, in 1887 was promoted to general roadmaster, and in 1890 was made trainmaster on the Kansas City Division.

Mr. House left this western road in 1891 and returned east, on construction work with the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, and in 1892 was made engineer, maintenance of way, for the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad and became chief engineer in 1894. Mr. House was made chief engineer of the Bessemer & Lake Erie Railroad in 1896, and became general superintendent in 1897 and general manager in 1901. In the latter year he took up his residence and duties at Duluth as president of the Duluth & Iron Range Railroad Company, and during the Federal regime was Federal manager of that road and also the Duluth, Missabe & Northern Railroad.

In his quiet and efficient way Mr. House has participated in several community projects at Duluth. For about sixteen years he has been identified with the local Young Men’s Christian Association as an official, most of the time as vice president and member of the Board of Directors and has been influential in the various campaigns to raise funds and securing adequate building accommodations. He has been an elder of the Presbyterian Church since about 1900, is a Republican in politics, and a member of the Kitchi Gammi Club, Commercial Club, Northland Country Club and Kitchinadji Club.

Mr. House has an interesting family, all three of his sons having been with the colors during the World War. He married July 30, 1880, Miss Minnie Mecracken, of a Pennsylvania family. Six children were born to their union and the four living are Henry Arthur, Allan Curtis, Francis E., Jr., and Dorothy. Henry Arthur finished his course in mining engineering at Columbia University, has had some experience in practical mining and in a small way has been associated with his father in a western ranch. He served as captain of infantry during the World war, was overseas, and has received his honorable discharge. The second son, Allan Curtis, who was on overseas duty as a captain of artillery, is now engaged in commercial business at Cleveland, Ohio. The youngest son, Francis E. Jr., now in the advertising business at Cleveland, was also abroad with the Expeditionary Forces as a first lieutenant in artillery.


  • Van Brunt, Walter, ed. Duluth and St. Louis County, Minnesota Vols. 1 – 3. The American Historical Society. Chicago: 1922.
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