• Railroads of Minnesota

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in the American Midwest, including Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Kansas. For questions specific to a railroad company, please seek the appropriate forum.
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in the American Midwest, including Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Kansas. For questions specific to a railroad company, please seek the appropriate forum.

Moderator: railohio

  by bnsfmn933
I am from Minnesota and monitor most RailRoads up where i live but my favorite is BNSF.BTW I am new here today is my 1st day
  by bnsfmn933
I don't do much railfanning to far from home as I am in a wheelchiar.I live right next to the BNSF line @ 7th street.

  by Komachi
Hey Scott,

Don't know if you're into model trains or not, but I've started posting info. on the ongoing saga of the construction of my layout. I think you might find it of interest (the name of the railroad itself may entice you to take a look... the Gopher State Railroad). Mind you, right now it's more centered on the construction of the layout, but I do also talk a little about the railroad itself. Thought I might pass that on for a fellow Minnesotan.

  by B&MYoshi
Hello there. I may be from Massachusetts, but I'm in the Gopher State twice every year or so. Where do you recommend railfanning? I usually railfan in Northtown yard at Fridley and Columbia Heights.

  by Komachi

I'm not familiar with the doings up in the Twin Cities, as I tend to stay down here in the southeastern part of the state. I would recomend Winona as a decent train watching spot. It's about an hour or so south of the Twin Cities and has a fair amount of mixed freights and the daily Empire Builder. CP/SOO and UP are the big players in town and the DM&E also has trackage rights on the west end of town by "Tower CK" onto the former C&NW tracks into their own little transfer yard near the UP crew office and refueling rack. (Drive east along the "river road"/Second Street and you'll see the UP yard off to your right.)

Winona is also a city that is proud of its Victorian architecture and is located on the Mississippi River, so there are interesting things to look at to kill time between trains and some interesting topography (hills, bluffs, etc.) that could make for some great photographs. Stop into the ACE Hardware (again, down on 2nd street) and talk to Jeff Schrod. He was the president of the railroad club when I lived there and would be the guy to ask about good train watching spots in the Winona area.

As for Twin Cities hotspots, here's a link to the Twin Cities/Minnesota Railfan Guide that's on the webpage for the University of Minnesota's Railroad Club...


Hope you enjoy your next trip here and are able to get to do some quality train watching.

  by route_rock
Hey welcome aboard! Am glad you like my lil old RR. I work for the BNSF I dont get that far north ( thought about moving to Lacrosse but my wife won out) I used to Railfan nationwide as an OTR driver and those names up in ole Minn sure are familiar! Great area to railfan!
  by tsched
when i lived in the twin cities, i worked just off of 24th Ave SE, which was just east of Dinkytown (U of M area). the building where I worked was right up near the tracks of what I remember being the CNW and GN (BN). Wish I could remember the business name out on the road (24th Ave SE). To reach that I remember heading north out of Dinkytown, going under the tracks then turning right past the remnants of the CNW yard. About 8 blocks east of there we turned right to go to where we worked, but the larger yard was in front of us to the south. Off to the east was Highway 280. Now if you continued on east on 24th Ave, you went about a block and the road curved to the right. If you went straight instead, you would go into an access road (for other businesses) that took you right up to the tracks that saw BN and SOO trains. I used to park back there often. Since RR security has tightened, that may no longer be possible. I think the Minnesota Commercial crossed the BN just east of there.

  by msernak
Hi Everyone,

I will be working in Blaine and staying in Roseville a few times per month. Any great, safe locations with a lot of action that can be reccomended?


  by msernak
Thanks for all of the info. and the welcomes. I cannot wait to come back. What does Gopher refer too?? In regards to Komachi's question, when you asked about MNRR, were you referring to Metro North back East?

  by Komachi

Minnesota is the "Gopher state," much like Wisconsin is the Badger state and Indiana the Hoosier state, etc. The little rodents are common among the prairies, however, how Minnesota became known as "The Gopher State" actually has ties to railroads...

In 1857 a political cartoon appeard in a newspaper (not sure which one off hand) that was a commentary on a railroad funding bill and depicted a group of railroad barrons as gophers hauling the territorial legislature (Minnesota was still a territory, we didn't achieve statehood until 1858) in a car behind them.

Here's a little more about Goldy ("The Golden Gopher"), our state mascot at Wikipedia.

This is also why I've named my proto-freelance model railroad (currently a suspended project) the "Gopher State Railroad" (GSRR) and have the current "phase III" paint scheme as a maroon and gold theme that mimics the MN State Patrol vehicles.

As for the MNRR...

I goofed on the reporting marks, it should have been MNNR (double n not double r). And no, I was not referring to Metro North (although it is an interesting railroad in and of itself) I was referring to the Minnesota Commercial Railway. The Minnesota Commercial is a shortline (bridge line?) railroad that operates in the twin cities and is noted for having one of the largest fleets of ALCo. locomotives in the country... not to mention the only TWO ALCo. RS-27s left in existence.

Here's more about it...

The Minnesota Commercial's website...

Wikipedia (again)...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_ ... al_Railway

Fan site with maps and info. ...

And I would be remiss if I were to omit Rolf Stumpf's "ALCo. World" from the list...

Hope that answers some of your questions.

  by Burner
Dont forget Iowa, the Hawkeye state...

Go Hawkeyes!!!

MNjay: I moved your post to the Employment forum... You will probably get a better response there.
  by Hawko
I am a conductor for the BNSF who works between La Crosse, WI and Northtown. I grew up in Medford, MA. If you guys folks see a big guy with a Boston Red Sox Cap at Northtown or hear someone giving "cah" counts instad of car counts over the radio, it is probably me.

The U of M Railroad Club's recommendations are excellent. The 35th St. Bridge is probably my favorite spot. I might also suggest the soccer fields at Como Park in Minneapolis. It is right next to the BNSF St. Paul Sub. I am not sure how good a place it is for picture taking but is a nice, safe location to watch trains and see people play soccer. In the winter, there are several ice rinks here where people skate, play hockey and broom ball.