The first Steam Locomotive in Minnesota, The William Crooks,
built in 1861 by the New Jersey Locomotive and Machine Company
Located in the old Duluth Union Depot (built in 1892), the Railroad Museum shares space with three other exhibits maintained by the St. Louis County Arts Center: the Duluth Children's Museum, the Duluth Art Institute, and the St. Louis County Historical Society. One admissions ticket gets you into all four museums.
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We spent almost 3 hours in the Railroad Museum alone and felt like we only scratched the surface of all the interesting pieces of railroading history that is on display. You can climb aboard several of the trains and see how things were from the early days to the glory days of railroading. Fascinating interactive exhibits are sprinkled throughout the museum depot. While I think almost anyone would find fascination in the railroad museum, the package deal that the Depot offers makes this a terrific family and all ages event to include in your visit to Duluth. Kids and their parents will enjoy the Children's Museum for it too has lots of interactive stuff. Art enthusiasts will get there fix with the exhibits and galleries maintained by the Art Institute. History buffs will enjoy the Immigration Exhibit, the Forest History Gallery, and the Veterans Memorial Hall.
The Union Depot Railway Museum
While the Depot now is primarily a home for four museums, it does continue to function as a train depot - for the excursion trains of the North Shore Scenic Railroad. > > >
There are about 25 pieces of railroad locomotives, passenger equipment, cabooses, and service equipment on display. . . plus other railroading artifacts, hundreds of photographs, and several interactive exhibits. I had difficulty capturing good photographs because the lighting is subdued and a camera flash only travels so far. And some of these pieces of equipment were a country mile long! On my next trip, I'll bring my old film camera with high speed film so I won't need a flash.
< < < The 1861 William Crooks, shown at the top of this page, is the first engine you see when arriving in the Museum. She was built for the St. Paul & Pacific Railway, the first railroad operating in Minnesota.
Here's the engineers cab with a view of the fire pit. The Crooks was originally built as a wood burner. Her last trip under steam was to a 1948 railroading fair in Chicago.
< < < Steam Engine No. 227, Built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works during World War II, served on the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railway. This monster is 128 feet long and weighs 566 tons, one of the largest and most powerful locomotives ever built.
A few of the valves, gauges, and controls the engineer and fireman had to master. > > >
The 227 is an articulated locomotive - actually two engines and two sets of driving wheels operating off of one boiler. The boiler was attached to the rear engine, leaving the front one free to pivot freely from side to side. This enabled construction of larger and longer locomotives that could still safely navigate curves in the track.
< < < Electric Locomotive No. 10200 of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad (The Milwaukee Road) was built in 1915 and was the most powerful electric locomotive in the world. This engine serviced the mountains in Montana, Idaho, and Washington where it could pull longer and heavier trains over the mountain passes than the steam engines of the day.
A shot of the engineers cab - not quite as complex as No. 227.
A view of the inside of the pilot house.
Furnished as a home away from home for trainmen, it had bunks, sink, wood stove, cooking facilities, a desk, chairs, and closets for personal belongings.
< < < One of the last wooden coaches manufactured by the American Car & Foundry, this dining car is complete with fine china, from an era when long distance train travel was the ultimate in luxury.
The railroad museum also has a Gift Shop with railroad memorabilia, an ice cream soda fountain, and an old tyme movie theater. The above is only a small sample of the exhibits. As I said earlier it will be easy to spend hours here. Lots to see. Here's the link to the Lake Superior Railroad Museum website.
Railroad & Color Train Links
Steam Train Weekend Duluth Railroad Museum Depot
- June 23 - 25, 2017
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Continuing your Travel & Trekking
Around Lake Superior
Superior Trails Lake Superior Circle Tour
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Steam Locomotive #2719 running color tour train rides between Duluth and Two Harbors.
See our reviews on the
Best Burgers and Pubs in Duluth, Minnesota.
Enjoying lake breezes and views at the Canal Park Brewery Beer Garden - Canal Park.
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Camping along the Lake Superior Circle Drive.