DM&IR Endion Station

Endion Passenger Depot photographed ca. 1979 by Stephen Graham. [Image: Library of Congress]

200 Lake Place Drive | Architects: Gerhard Tenbusch and I. Vernon Hill | b. 1899 | Extant

Charlemagne Tower and George C. Stone opened the Duluth & Iron Range Railroad (D&IR) in 1884 to move iron ore from Tower’s Vermilion Iron Range mines located north of the Zenith City. While the railroad’s name implied it would terminate in Duluth, the road instead first stretched from the Soudan Mine to Agate Bay, which would merge with adjacent Burlington Bay to form the Town of Two Harbors. There, massive docks transferred the ore from rail cars to steamships headed for steel mills in the eastern U.S.

The D&IR did not reach Duluth—a requirement of its land grant—until 1886. The line, known as the road’s Lake Superior Division, ran adjacent to the lakeshore from Two Harbors to Duluth’s eastern border at the foot of South Fifteenth Avenue East, one hundred feet from the Lake Superior shore. Between the track and South Street, the D&IR constructed a loading platform and a modest wooden freight and passenger depot; a small roundhouse and turntable further east. The complex became known as Endion Yards.

A rail line was then extended from the yards to the terminus of the St. Paul & Duluth Railroad at the foot of Third Avenue East. Passenger and freight service from Union Depot to Two Harbors and north to Tower began on December 20, 1886. More depots within today’s city limits were added later, including one at Twenty-Eighth Avenue East, another between Forty-Sixth and Forty-Seventh Avenues East, and a third between Sixtieth Avenue East and the Lester River. These facilities helped develop the communities of Lakeside and Lester Park, which became the Village of Lakeside in 1889. The railroad operated service between Endion Station and the Lester River six times a day.

In 1899 the original Endion Station was replaced by an English Revival passenger-and-freight station designed by noted Duluth architect I. Vernon Hill while he was partnering with Gerhard Tenbusch. The small but stunning cruciform-shaped depot is faced with red brick and trimmed with rough-hewn buff-colored sandstone from Kettle River, Minnesota. Architectural historian Charles Nelson noted that the building is the first example of Hill’s use of projecting, crossed gables, part of the architect’s “highly aggressive and personal style which marked his major works in Duluth between 1901 and 1903,” such as the Cook, Crosby, and Patrick homes. Inside, the depot originally had just two rooms: a passenger waiting room and lounge and a stationmaster’s office. Passenger service ended in 1961, freight service in 1978.

The building sat vacant until 1980, when local architect Edward Schafer renovated the building for his office. In the mid-1980s the expansion of Interstate 35 through Duluth called for the station’s removal. Instead of demolishing the landmark, the city purchased it and, with the state’s help, moved it to a new home in today’s Canal Park Business District. The city sold the building in 2012 and it has since served as the home of various businesses.

The Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Endion Passenger Station photographed by Dennis O’Hara in 2009. (Image: Northern Images)