January 15, 1965; Last run of the Soo Line’s Laker from the Twin Ports to Chicago

On this day across the bay in 1965, The Soo Line Railroad’s Laker ran its final overnight service to and from the Twin Ports to Chicago’s Grand Central Station, ending the Laker’s fourteen-year service. The Soo Line actually began service from Duluth to Chicago in October 1910, shortly after its new passenger station opened in the Zenith City. The Chicago-Milwaukee-Twin Ports Express left Chicago northbound at 7:00 p.m. and arrived in Duluth the next morning at 9:00 a.m.—a 14-hour trip. The train was named Laker in 1951, when the railroad was converting from steam-powered locomotives to diesel-electric powered locomotives. The Laker left Chicago at 6:30 p.m. and arrived in Duluth at 8:15 a.m.—diesel engines shaved just 15 minutes off of the overall travel time. With just 14 years under its belt before it shut down, the Laker was shorter lived than other Soo line passenger trains, including the Winnipegger, the Atlantic Limited and the Mountaineer. By 1965, the Soo line claimed the Laker alone lost about $500,000 a year. In the last year’s of operation the train terminated in Superior, not Duluth, after the Soo Line’s Duluth depot had been shut down. Passengers traveling from Chicago to Duluth made the last few miles by railroad-provided bus or taxi-cab.

The last run of the Soo Line’s Laker preparing to depart as Train No. 4 at Superior on January 15, 1965. (Image: Jeff Lemke, Twin Ports Rail History)