St Paul / Minneapolis Depots

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St Paul / Minneapolis Depots

Postby HDP » Sat Nov 12, 2005 10:05 am

Does anyone know where I can get information, layouts, etc on the depots and trackage in the St Paul and Minneapolis areas from the late 1960's / early 1970's?
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Postby dhaugh » Wed Nov 16, 2005 12:03 pm

The 1986 issue of TRAINS has a very good map of the Twin Cities area as a whole including abandoned lines. Dave
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Postby HDP » Wed Nov 16, 2005 7:21 pm

thanks. do you know which month?
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Postby dhaugh » Sat Jan 21, 2006 9:58 am

Sorry, I haven't been on here for awhile. It was the TRAINS October 1986 issue. Also, a good issue for the Twin Cities is the Dec. 2003 with an updated map.
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Postby HDP » Wed Feb 01, 2006 1:31 pm

Thanks. I found the later one.

Does anyone know how operations were done at the depot? Specifically, did the arriving passenger trains head straight in or back in from the wye?

When the CB&Q brought in, say, the Empire Builder, how did they exchange power? Did the NP and GN trains then stop again in
Minneapolis?
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Postby BlackDog » Fri Feb 17, 2006 9:29 pm

I believe, the Q backed the Builder and the North Coast into SPUD and whacked their power off, and the wailing GN or NP power was tacked right on.

Yes, they did stop in Minneapolis. the GN had a big station right along the river just past the Stone Arch bridge. NP also had their own route to GN station in Minneapolis.
Go ahead and back up.
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Postby HDP » Sat Feb 18, 2006 8:05 pm

Thanks!

I assume, then, the Q went in head first on their own trains (Morning Zephyr, etc)? Then backed out to their coach yard? And where was that, by the way?
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Postby BlackDog » Mon Feb 27, 2006 8:27 am

I believe the Q also went to the GN depot in Minneapolis. I remember hearing of their coach yard called "The Zephyr Pit", but I'm not sure exactly where it was.

As for the inbound power that brought in the NCL and/or EB from Chicago, I don't know where it went to be serviced.

Sorry it is taking so long between replies.
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Re: St Paul / Minneapolis Depots

Postby wjstix » Tue Oct 19, 2010 5:04 pm

Dennis Henry of Brass Car sides has a video / DVD with a big chunk of it being color film he took during his lunch breaks back in the mid-sixties watching trains at St.Paul Union Depot. You might find it interesting.

As noted, CB&Q-powered GN or NP trains would back into the wye by pulling into the north leg and then backing down the west leg into the depot. The engines would come off and NP or GN engines would back down and couple up. NP originally used A-B-B sets of F-units on the streamlined North Coast Limited, but found that A-B-A sets worked better, since the engineer could be in the rear A unit and run the engines thru the sharp curve to the depot and the cars. Otherwise, from the front engine, he was blind and had to rely on signals relayed by the fireman.

From SPUD, railroads that used the Great Northern Depot in Minneapolis would go up the north leg and climb up and around downtown St.Paul (the depot is in the SE corner of downtown) and go across the Stone Arch Bridge to Minneapolis. Trains that used the Milwaukee Road depot in Minneapolis continued along the Milwaukee's mainline along the river and climbing the bluff west of downtown to cross the "Short Line" bridge into south Minneapolis. Then they would generally run past the wye and then go up the north leg of the Milwaukee wye backwards the 30 or so blocks to the downtown stub-end Milwaukee Depot.

(BTW the two downtowns aren't right next to each other as many folks assume, they're about 8-10 miles apart.)
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Re: St Paul / Minneapolis Depots

Postby Desertdweller » Sat Jan 29, 2011 10:27 pm

Jumping in here late, but what has been posted already is true as far as I can remember.

The track area east of SPUD was elevated on stone pillars. These may still be in use (haven't been there in years now). The area was planked over (south of the Gillette Razor building). There once was a roundhouse and turntable there. In the late 1960's, I recall seeing GN passenger F's on a track there, so it may have been a servicing area for them. I think the engine terminal was owned by the Union Depot company.

In the middle area of the wye was the Northern Pacific dining car commissary building. Immediately south of that was an enginehouse that later was the home of Diesel Electric Service (where the Baldwin Sharks were vandalized).

The SPUD has not been used for passenger service since the current AMTRAK station opened in the Midway District. But I understand there are plans to return it to rail service again. Since the ugly age of urban renewal has passed, some cities have come to value their historic union stations. Denver, Kansas City, and Montgomery, Alabama have restored their stations as civic centerpieces. For many years, the original GN 4-4-0 "William Crooks" was on display in the headhouse of SPUD.

As far as I know, all passenger services in St. Paul used Spud. In Minneapolis, the Milwaukee Road station was used by MILW and RI. This structure has been preserved. Great Northern Station was used by GN, NP, CBQ, CNW, CGW, and SOO.
CGW had a small coach yard on an island (Boom Island) in the Mississippi River adjacent to the station. The main Minneapolis Post Office was (maybe still is?) located across the street directly south of the station. They had platforms for working PO cars on the head end of trains.

The CB&Q ran, among other Chicago-Minneapolis passenger trains, two trains each way that were combined with either the Empire Builder/North Coast Limited, or the Mainstreeter/Western Star. These trains operated combined from Chicago to St. Paul, then were split at St. Paul into their respective consists and forwarded individually to Minneapolis. The Morning and Afternoon Twin Zephyrs that operated as individual trains ran as independent trains on to Minneapolis.

As far as I know, the term "Zephyr Pit" applied to the CB&Q passenger engine terminal south of Union Station in Chicago, but I do not recall the name applying to a CB&Q facility elsewhere. I don't know where the CB&Q's facility was. The GN used Jackson St. shops in the southern part of St. Paul. The NP used Como Shops in NW St. Paul. Since the CB&Q was jointly owned by these two railroads, they may have used one of these facilities. I also seem to recall a CB&Q engine terminal in their South St. Paul yard.

MILW and RI power was serviced at a small facility in Minneapolis south of Milwaukee Road Station. MILW had a sizable engine terminal at Pig's Eye Yard, east of the CB&Q yard in South St. Paul.

Believe it or not, there once was open countryside between St. Paul and Minneapolis. I have an old color postcard of the 1947 Empire Builder (with E-7's!) running through farmland between St. Paul and Minneapolis.

With the arrival of the centrally-located AMTRAK station, Great Northern Station fell to the wrecking ball. It was a shame.

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Re: St Paul / Minneapolis Depots

Postby Desertdweller » Sat Jan 29, 2011 10:39 pm

Two little corrections to my last post. SOO Line used the Minneapolis MILW Station, not GN Station.

Also, Como Shops (now Bandanna Square?) is in NE, not NW, St. Paul.

The first was forgetfullness. The second a typo.

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Re: St Paul / Minneapolis Depots

Postby mtuandrew » Sun Jan 30, 2011 10:33 pm

A couple addendums to your excellent post, Les Desertdweller:

GN's Jackson Street Roundhouse is actually straight north of downtown, not in southern St. Paul (or South St. Paul either). It's restored, and is now the home of the Minnesota Transportation Museum, and also the offices of the Great Northern Railway Historical Society and the Northern Pacific Railway Historical Association. Bandanna Square nee Como Shops is less than a mile west of Jackson Street, on the south side of the NP line.

Another long-demolished depot is the Electric Short Line depot in Minneapolis, formerly at 7th St. N and 3rd Ave. N. This served the Luce Line (the Electric Short Line Railway), the Minneapolis, Northfield and Southern (nee MStPR&D Electric Traction Co., or the Dan Patch Line), and the Minneapolis, Anoka and Cuyuna Range Railroad.

Finally, the Soo Line also had its own standalone depot on North Washington Avenue, only used for local services (though I don't know what qualified as local versus long-distance, like the Winnipeger and the Soo-Dominion.)
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Re: St Paul / Minneapolis Depots

Postby Desertdweller » Mon Jan 31, 2011 3:27 pm

Yes. I had forgotten where the Jackson St. shops sit in relation to downtown St. Paul.

I do recall seeing a Minneapolis, Anoka, and Cuyuna Range boxcab sitting in the wye area east of SPUD. I think it was blue and white.

The MN&S was a great railroad to explore in Golden Valley in the late 70's. They had a friendly enginehouse staff that would let you inside to photograph. I recall taking slide photos of their FM H-12-44 with cabbage stack spark arrestors. Also various Baldwin beasts, including at least one centercab transfer locomotive.

Les
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Re: St Paul / Minneapolis Depots

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Jan 31, 2011 8:53 pm

Desertdweller wrote:Yes. I had forgotten where the Jackson St. shops sit in relation to downtown St. Paul.

I do recall seeing a Minneapolis, Anoka, and Cuyuna Range boxcab sitting in the wye area east of SPUD. I think it was blue and white.

The MN&S was a great railroad to explore in Golden Valley in the late 70's. They had a friendly enginehouse staff that would let you inside to photograph. I recall taking slide photos of their FM H-12-44 with cabbage stack spark arrestors. Also various Baldwin beasts, including at least one centercab transfer locomotive.

Les

Huh, I wonder what MA&CR 100 was doing there. When did you see it there? That boxcab you saw is either the second- or third-oldest internal combustion-electric locomotive in the world, by the way, and served variously as a gas-electric, a straight electric, and a diesel-electric.

Always wished I could have seen the MN&S as a vital railroad, rather than the semi-abandoned line it is today.
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Re: St Paul / Minneapolis Depots

Postby Desertdweller » Tue Feb 01, 2011 11:24 pm

Andrew,

That looks a lot like what I saw. I would estimate the time at or about 1969.

I will always consider myself fortunate to have ridden passenger trains in the pre-AMTRAK days. Although many railroads had shoddy passenger service in the years immediately preceding AMTRAK, the railroads that served my college town of Winona, MN kept their standards high. Both the CB&Q (and later BN) and MILW took pride in their passenger services, and kept their equipment maintained to high standards.

My college years involved a lot of train riding, originally as just an alternative to driving, later as a blooming railfan. After graduation, I was approached by the Milwaukee Road and offered a job. That was the beginning of a career that will end in nine weeks. I am retiring, and my future railroading will be confined to my basement.

The late 1960's held some real treasures still in the Chicago-Minneapolis corridor. I recall riding both the first (Silver Dome) and second (Silver Castle) dome cars on the Q. These were not Budd-built domes. They were converted in the Burlington shops during WWII from Budd-built coaches. They had an interior layout different from production Budd domes, and used small panes of flat glass, much like the postwar Pullman-Standard domes. These cars ran often on the Twin Zephyrs, along with regular production Budd domes.

I also recall riding the CB&Q Blackhawk train, which still included some heavyweight equipment.

The combined GN-NP-CB&Q trains were always a treat to ride. Cars from all three railroads. I liked the GN Great Domes and the NP Lewis and Clark Travellers' Rest lounge cars especially.

The Twin Zephyrs that ran as independent trains were neat, too. Often just three or four matching Budd cars, always with at least one dome coach.

Power on the Q trains in those days were either E-9's, E-8's, or E-7's. All "A" units. The Q liked to run them nose to tail, elephant style. I remember riding several times in BN days behind an E-7 that was all silver with stainless steel side panels, but with a green nose as far back as the cab doors.

The Milwaukee Road was a really class act, and I was proud to work for them. I rode all their passenger trains on that run, the Morning and Afternoon Hiawathas; the Pioneer Limited; and the Fast Mail. The Pioneer Limited had the most comfortable reclining-seat coaches: the only coaches I have ever been able to sleep comfortably in.

Power on these trains were E-9's, E-8's, and E-7's. Also FP-9's, and, later, FP-45's. I was invited aboard the first FP-45 to come through Winona for a close look. Little did I know that one day I would be running SD-40's and 45's.

I regret never riding in a Skytop Lounge, although I often admired them from trackside. I did log many miles aboard the Superdomes.

While I was attending college, my parents moved to Colorado Springs. This opened more travel opportunities to me. The RI Minneapolis-Omaha train had been pulled. If I wanted to travel from Winona to Colorado I needed to first go to Chicago. (I didn't know about the CB&Q-NP-CB&Q route Winona-Billings-Denver at that time.) I had a choice of either MILW or CB&Q to Chicago, then either CB&Q or MILW-UP to Denver. As it were, I always travelled on the Q to Denver. Always on the Denver Zephyr, except for one return trip on the California Zephyr. My connections at Chicago were just better with the Q. I also regret not taking the UP at least once.

The D&RGW had pulled their Royal Gorge train the previous year to all this, or I would have rode on to the Springs in the Colorado Springs section of the Denver Zephyr. This was tacked onto the rear of the Royal Gorge. But I can still duplicate this operation in my basement on my Denver Union Station railroad.

The beginning of AMTRAK was sort of surrealistic. Kind of tacky, with a greatly reduced route map and train numbers. But interesting in a way for seeing foreign power and cars on the trains. I remember the first westbound "Empire Builder" through Winona. It was pulled by a NP F-9 in the lead: something you would never have seen previously. Also in those very early AMTRAK days, I took the Southwest Chief from LaJunta, CO to Chicago. It was virtually the same train as the late El-Capitan-Super Chief: same equipment, same warbonnet F units!

Les
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