Much of Minnesota's big cities like Saint Paul and Duluth were formed on the railroad. In Duluth they had the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad that operated for several years to bring goods and people to the northwest state. Today visitors and locals in Duluth can take a 1.5 hour trip that takes riders to the shoreline of St. Louis River Estuary, Spirit Lake and Mud Lake. The route is a historic journey in which riders can see the wildlife and natural environments of Duluth along the way.
The ride takes tourists over the 130 year old track in which numerous curves can be found. The curves take one through the hills, woods, and mountains of Duluth. The train being used is not quite as old as the track, having been built over 80 years ago. There are inside coaches as well as outdoor cars for the best viewing. Throughout the trip riders will be able to listen to a narration of the track and railroading history.
Those running the railroad are volunteers within the non- profit organization. The train moves across the Burlington Northern Santa Fe track, which is now owned by the city of Duluth. The LS&M maintain the track as well as the BNSF portion. The actual Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad operated in 1863 taking goods and people between Duluth and the Twin Cities.
The last spike of the track was placed in 1870 near Thompson. The track was created to run from Carlton to Thompson along the St. Louis River through Fond Du Lac, Morgan Park, West Duluth, until it made its way downtown of Duluth. Passengers were first taken along the route in 1870 when operations began.
Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad only lasted until 1877. It was then purchased by St. Paul and Duluth before it was placed in the Northern Pacific System. Later on the railroad relocated to make the grade easier for the West Duluth and Carlton leg. The new split was placed near what is now the Lake Superior Zoo. Service on the line continued until the 1930's.
In 1981 the present railroad called Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad was started. The volunteers wanted to remember the history of the railroad, so they decided to open up rides along the original track to include the scenic St. Louis River.
The schedule for the railroad can change from year to year. It depends slightly on the weather and the funds to run the train along the track. Typically the train runs on weekends from June to October. They do have some trains on Labor Day and before the 4th of July. Departures are 10:30am and 1:30pm. Admission is $10.50 per adult and $6.50 for children. Children under 3 are free. The train will run for 45 minutes before backing up along the track to return to the depot for which the tourists left. Advanced bookings are unnecessary unless a group of 30 or more is going on the train. Educational bookings are possible for students.
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