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2003 GN Finding Trip

Part 6

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Day 17, Saturday August 2: St. Cloud to St. Paul


Click for larger imageToday's main event will be a visit to the Jackson Street roundhouse complex of the Minnesota Transportation Museum planned for this afternoon. This leaves all morning to explore other GN sights 'between' St. Cloud and St. Paul. First will be Waite Park just west of St. Cloud, home to the famous GN St. Cloud shops. Expecting to find only abandoned shop buildings I'm surprised to find an industrial park in development. Some of the old shop buildings have been converted already and are again in use, others are still standing empty, waiting for new tenants. Most buildings are still standing but the biggest, the car shop, is gone. All that remains is the concrete floor and tracks. The neat thing about most of the buildings is that they still carry their original signs, like the steel plant, the sheet metal plant, the wood plant Click for larger imageand the forge plant. With the surroundings cleaned up and the buildings waiting to accept new users the Waite Park shops are looking at a promising future. Just before leaving, I spot a small shack which might have been the scale house for the shops track scale. I decide to make a visit to the St. Cloud depot for a shot along the wye-track that runs perpendicular to the depot and is how the engineers coming off the Osseo line from Minneapolis must have seen the depot coming into town. In the yard close by I spot some cabooses and one turns out to be GN X144, Click for larger imagestill in use. Great! One more stop in town before heading east; the Mississippi River bridge. Getting good shots of this bridge is difficult and the results under cloudy skies prove it again. At least I got a shot from the south-side this time. Well, on to the next stop; the Clearwater depot. Reported as moved into town and converted into a residence I try to find it by driving through the streets near the now torn-up tracks hoping that I will get lucky and spot it. And with a bit of luck, I do. It's difficult to detect but I do find it sitting behind trees and largely covered in plastic. Click for larger imageAfter checking for the obvious depot spotting features I decide it must be it. When I get ready to take photos, the owner spots me. I explain what I'm doing here and he confirms it's the old Clearwater depot. Talking about the work he's doing on the depot, I'm quickly invited inside to see how he's remodeling the inside. Quickly it becomes obvious that nothing of the original inside will remain as the depot is slowly turning into a comfortable home. Converting a depot brings along some specific challenges, one of them being that Click for larger imageeverything is built so sturdy. (hey, it is a GN depot). To illustrate that, I'm being shown to the basement that the depot was placed on. Here the heavy floor joists and old wall construction become apparent. Sturdy indeed. After my tour I ask if he minds me taking photos of the outside, and he does (!?). Just because it's not finished yet. It would be better to take pictures with the new siding on. I explain that I obviously can't come back for that any time soon so he 'reluctantly' agrees to me taking photos now. Click for larger imageHe promises to send me photos though when the siding is on. I can't wait. I head further east and after a quick check in Zimmerman for the depot there, which I don't find, I continue to Princeton for the depot. The Princeton depot is an easy find as it's still in its original location and now in use as the Mille Lacs County Historical Society and Depot Museum. I take several photos and when the sun finally comes out I even get a half-decent shot of the passenger part in sunlight. I'm amazed at the size of the freight room of this depot. Princeton must have handled quite some Click for larger imagefreight in it's heyday. Next stop; Cambridge. Caboose X302 should be located just north of town. I checked several of the roads that lead north out of town but no caboose. Must have moved or be in a hard to spot location. The clock is ticking and it's time to head south towards St. Paul. I still have some stops planned on the way, the first being the Isanti depot, moved and converted into a community center. With not much to go on I bounce around town enjoying the construction (again) but fail to locate the depot. Click for larger imageI do however spot a gondola at the tracks which is...GN! GN 78595, a corrugated side gondola, and it is still in active use. Ham Lake is next. GN instruction car B-5 serves there the Great Northern Golf Range (I wonder how they came up with that name). She's an easy find sitting right along highway 65. Under watchful and curious eyes I take my photos leaving the customers and personnel behind thinking who this guy was taking photos of their 'office' instead of playing a round of golf. Looking at the time I decide to not make the detour to Anoka for the depot and leave that for a future trip. Instead I head straight for the Long Range Regional Park in New Brighton. Home to GN caboose X271Click for larger image it's an easy find (only because I had done my homework with Terraserver.com aerial photos). It's now 2:30 pm and time to head to Jackson Street. A quick trip on the Interstate gets me there. I pay the entry 'fee' and head straight outside to look around and see the turntable they put in since my last visit. She's a beauty, for sure. Nice job! Having seen it I decide to introduce myself to see if they have been expecting me. Eric Hopp the yardmaster at Jackson Street had announced my visit ahead of time, and it turns out they had been looking out for me. On my way in I had slipped right by the 'welcoming committee' at the entry door (sorry guys). That's quickly corrected though as I Click for larger imageget introduced to the right people and before I know it I'm on a private tour through the facility. I get to see several great things in the workshop and car barn and even get a tour inside ex GN Heater Car 16. Mentioning that it sure is hot in there even without the boilers running would probably get me some remarks that I don't really grasp the concept of a steam-heater car, so I won't. Anyway, HC-16 is still complete inside and could be made to work again and used as a great auxiliary power plant and, as I hear now, this is where the plans are pointing towards. After the guided tour (thanks Jon!)Click for larger image I'm being left on my own as people need rides on the speeder. This gives me a chance to tour the rest of the grounds and take photos of ex GN cabooses X240 (GNRHS) and X216, GN boxcars 3533, 13397 and 20522, freshly painted GN baggage car 265 and Buffet-parlor-observation 1084 'Twin Ports' as well as GN rider/baggage 480. I even come across the frame (in parts) of GN O-1 tender 3005. NP painted GN F7A 454A is sitting besides the old boiler house which is still displayingClick for larger image the proud Great Northern Railway name. While I'm taking some additional photos of the roundhouse and turntable the museum closes. We get together again with some of the guys and spend some quality time talking about our mutual interests. Asking about a building I saw behind the roundhouse and that looks like the GN shop building that used to be in the coach yard gets me invited to take a ride on the speeder and to go over there. On this trip I get a good chance to take a photo of the original GN signal bridge that's still standing across the mainline and a decent view of the boiler house and GN lettering were it not that fencing prevents this from Click for larger imagebeing a great shot. After a fun ride and tying up the speeder in the roundhouse we take a quick look at the interior and wood decorations of GN X757, a 1893 drovers coach, sitting inside the roundhouse and admire the nice condition she's still in. GN SD45 400 'Hustle Muscle' is also sitting inside but in a position that makes it hard to take photos. I thank the guysClick for larger image for a great reception and tour. They really made me feel welcome! It's still light out and having a tentative appointment to visit the Hutchinson depot I head that way. Because of an email that I missed, the meet didn't work out but I did get there in time to see the depot in the setting sun. On my way back to the Twin Cities I find the Lester Prairie depot in use as 'The Depot' gas station just outside of town, but a search for the New Germany depot (grainery on a farm) doesn't pan out. Tired, but content I head to my hotel and a nice dinner.


Day 18, Sunday August 3: Minneapolis - St. Paul area


Click for larger imageToday will be spent searching for GN remnants in and around the Twin Cities. I'm heading out towards Osceola, WI first to see the tourist-train operation of the Minnesota Transportation Museum and part of its GN collection that's in use there. On my way there I take the long route, via Lindstrom, MN to look for GN caboose X640. I have an address for the owner but doubt if he will have the caboose there. In Chisago City I run into a wood caboose painted Northern Pacific and numbered 69. It doesn't look much like a NP caboose and a interpretive sign confirms it isn't; it's Duluth & Iron Range #69. Still a nice restoration and display. I continue on my quest for GN X640. When turning onto Click for larger image the road this caboose is supposed to be on, someone just in front of me also turns into it. Funny, same type as the rental car I'm driving. Then the car slows down and pulls to the side. I pass wondering why, but continue on spotting mailboxes for the address I'm looking for. Before I know it I have passed the house and reach the end of the road. I make a U-turn to take me back to the house. When I get close I see that same car making a U-turn also and stopping in front of the house. In a reaction I elect to pull into the driveway and prevent the street from becoming a parking lot. Now what? I better get back on the street again and while I do I glance into the other car. Hey, Click for larger imagedon't I know this guy? I get onto the other shoulder and lower my window while he does the same. No, it can't be...it's Lindsay Korst, fellow GNRHS member, friend and webmaster of the Great Northern Railway Page and GNRHS website. I don't know who of us was more surprised but we both have this confused look on our face thinking what the odds can be to run into each other at a rural location like this. I knew Lindsay would also be somewhere in Lines East hunting for GN 'stuff' but this...? What are the odds? We shake hands and after a short 'what are you doing here?'-talk proceed to take telephotoClick for larger image shots of plywood-sided GN X640 from the road as it's early Sunday morning and we don't want to disturb the owners. It turns out that we're both on our way to Osceola. We team-up and head over together to check out the equipment gathered there. They're still busy preparing for the brunch train so it's easy to get photos of all the GN equipment located there. GN coaches 1096, 1097 and 1213 make up the train today together with Business Car A-11. A further look around in the yard reveals LST&T SW1200 #105 painted in Northern Pacific colors and GN caboose X71 still painted in Burlington Northern colors. We ask and are allowed inside A-11 to have a Click for larger image look around. As it's set up for dining service it appears quite barren to me. Not at all what I expected to see inside a business car. Eric Hopp had recommended a ride on the brunch train but as we find out the trip takes about three hours we decide that that will take too much time out of the day. We both have too much planned for today. We do like the brunch idea though and decide to find a place to eat. Not much to find in town so we head down to Stillwater where we find a nice family restaurant. While enjoying a nice lunch we catch up on stories from both our trips through Lines East. Slowly we discover that we have visited many of the same sites, just on different days. Click for larger imageAfter an enjoyable lunch we pack up and go both our individual ways looking for more GN things. What a nice coincidence! I drive back to St. Paul and head for the original GN office building which is now being converted intoClick for larger imagean exclusive apartment building. Although not finished yet, the outside looks nice and clean again. On one side they've cut a hole in the brick. The hole hasn't been cut all the way through and as such creates a very impressive sight of the thickness of the walls. Amazing to see how much brick went into this building! As I already have photos of most of the other GN sights of Minneapolis and St. Paul I decide to go back to the Willmar to St. Cloud line and search for the depots I missed with my nighttime passage through there two days ago. But first it's time to do some outlet shopping on the way to St. Cloud. (Mental note: don't go there again on a weekend!) I arrive at St. Cloud later then desired so I make a quick dash south to try to catch as many depots as possible on the line. First stop, Cold Spring. Listed as Ken Kraemer Auto Body Shop located on Route 23 it shouldn't be too hard to find. I find a automotive shop fairly easy but it's not Ken Kraemer's Auto Body Shop but Smitty's Service. The building looks nothing like a depot. It has several large bays on one side, Click for larger image an uneven roofline and no bay window whatsoever. As there are no other similar places located here I look the building over and discover that the pitch of the roof in the back is similar to that on other depots I saw in the area. Just to make sure I take a photo after which I get on my way again further south. I guess the depot was raised and replaced by another building. On to Richmond then. I have an address for the depot here but no map, although I have a faint recollection of a map I checked a while back, telling me to look on the west side of town. I decide to take a quick look and if needed stop to ask. Fairly quickly I find the street and with some driving around I end up at the back where the depot is clearly visible. The Richmond depot sits in the owners' backyard and is largely out of sight because of trees it sits behind. The owners are at home so I go to the door to ask for Click for larger image permission to take photos. They're friendly people and curious to hear why I'm so interested in their depot. We have a nice conversation about the depot, what they use it for (storage of antiques acquired over the years with the intend to start an antiques-business after retirement) and eventually also get to talk about the lost depot in Cold Spring. I tell about my findings and what do you know, the building I photographed is the former depot, although heavily modified. Boy, am I glad I took that photo! I'm granted permission to take photos of the Richmond depot and thank the nice folks for their time. It's back on the road again, on towards New London. I skip the Paynesville depot, which is supposedly a cottage now on Rice Lake, as this would probably take too much time to find and the sun is setting already. The New London depot should be easier to find. I have an address and it's reportedly in use by the Boy Scouts so it shouldn't be that hard to find... Click for larger image Well, I didn't find it, let alone the address. Let's save this one for a future trip and come back more prepared. Last stop for today; Spicer, home to a depot and possibly a GN caboose. There really isn't much light left so taking photos might prove to be impossible but at least I will have confirmed their existence, given of course that I find them first! The Spicer depot is found quickly. Sitting alongside Route 23 the bay window gives it away easily. My trusty digital camera saves the day as some poorly lit photos prove that the depot is still there, although moved across the road. Then the caboose. Possibly GN and reportedly located on the shores of Green Lake. I decide to follow the peripheral road northbound (I tried southbound several years ago without luck) Click for larger imagw and just about when I start to think that I will never find this caboose I spot one sitting in someone's yard. As it is dark out already I walk into the driveway to check it out (turns out I was in the neighbor's driveway. Did I mention that it was dark out?) The caboose is clearly not GN and looks NP to me. It does have a fresh coat of Burlington Northern green with full lettering applied. A very nice job. Reluctantly I take some photos in the dark of BN 10974 with my digital camera which surprisingly turned out to be ok enough to convert into half-decent photos in my photo editing software. At least that mystery is solved, too bad it wasn't GN. Well, that wraps it up for today and I head to dinner in Willmar before heading back to my hotel in Minneapolis. It sure has been an interesting (and fun) day!


Day 19, Monday August 4: Minneapolis - St. Paul area


Click for larger imageToday will be one of the highlights of my trip. Eric Hopp owns GN coach/diner 1146 and has offered to show me around in it. I can't wait! We meet in the morning at the Jackson St. Roundhouse where we talk about the wonderful reception I had gotten on Saturday at the museum. I also mention that I had hoped to see the GNRHS/NPRHA files storage area-under development but that nobody was in that Saturday. Luck has it though that people from the NPRHA are in today and we get a short tour followed by a chance to look around the storage facility and it's contents ourselves. Although the GN AFE's are not there yet, the many ledgers that are there show a unique and often very detailed view of the history of the GN. A treasure trove indeed and I hope to come back one day when the AFE's have been moved in to get a chance to do some research for various projects I have in the back of my mind. These files are one of the greatest assets of the GNRHS and I'm glad to see that they're slowly becoming available now for the members to enjoy and use. Time to head out. GN 1146 is located quite a ways out from the Twin Cities so we decide first to explore the sights of the Twin Cities. I have some things I would like to see and what's better than a local tour guide to take you there, right! Thanks Eric! First thing's first though; lunch. We enjoy a large but nice lunch while looking over builder's photos of 1146 that Eric brought along. Click for larger image Talking about 1146 I slowly discover what it means to own a passenger car and all the work involved to get it back to original condition. It sure does spark my interest and I can't wait to see 1146 in person. Then we're off to our first stop; the Minnesota Commercial for GN RPO 41. It's still earning its keep in work train service and kept at the Minnesota Commercial Midway roundhouse. The Minnesota Commercial is Alco Heaven for railfans and just for that already worth a visit. At the roundhouse we lookup the yardmaster to ask if we can go look at GN 41. A small explanation of who we are and why were interested to see her, and after signing a release form we find Click for larger image ourselves invited to look around but are cautioned to stay off the equipment! Located between a colorful mix of Alco and GE products her bright yellow and silver colors make GN 41 stand out clearly but also make it hard to get good pictures off. Too many engines fill the rather small yard. Wow, what a collection! Underneath the new yellow paint the Great Northern lettering and numbers are still clearly visible. We manage to get a few half-decent shots and proceed around the yard to look at the rest of this interesting collection. Click for larger image Recently acquired ex BN(SF) GE B30-7A cabless units join Alco's of all sizes and heritage, ranging from a RS3 to a monster M636 with some unique ex C&NW RS27's and a Canadian built wide-cab M420 thrown in for good measure. Really a rail fan's paradise. Next stop will be Minneapolis Junction, home to Milwaukee 4-8-4 261 and its excursion equipment. For GN fans the only remaining building, now in use by the 261 group, is the long corrugated steel shop building. The roundhouse was set on fire by homeless people years ago and all that remains are the foundations and filled-in turntable pit. The Click for larger imageturntable itself found a nice new home at MTM's Jackson St. Roundhouse. The 261 group owns two ex GN coaches that it acquired from New Jersey Transit through the United Railroad Historical Society of New Jersey. In nice sunlight I get photos of former GN 1218 and 1226. We can't leave of course without looking at 261 itself and head inside the shop. People are busy with welding work on 261 and some of the cars inside while others are outside applying pin striping (black electrical tape!) to a recently repainted MILW car. A nice active group it seems. For a last stop in the Twin Cities we go to the St. Paul Arts & SciencesClick for larger image campus to try to locate GN caboose X242 that reportedly was moved there years back. Not being able to find it outside we walk in and ask around if there is a caboose located on campus or in one of the buildings. Some strange looks, an unknowing answer and a fruitless check with a security guard later we leave the campus with yet a mystery unsolved. Is this caboose still there and if not what happened to it? Time now for the highlight of the day, as we head out to visit GN 1146. After a longer than expected drive we arrive at the siding 1146 is stored on. After securing Click for larger image the switch to the siding and blue flagging the track we head inside. The interior is still complete although decorated in Amtrak blue colors. We enter through the vestibule into the coach area followed by a hallway alongside the kitchen and into the dining section. The dining section still has the typical triangular tables and booths, and were it not for the Amtrak colors one would feel right at home in a GN car. The kitchen is largely complete and in good condition. Recently thoroughly cleaned it looks great again. Click for larger image I'm getting a detailed explanation of the innards of the car, the work done and still needed and how in general everything is set up and where it's located. I admire the recently redone windows now equipped with FRA type glass and badly needed new rubber gaskets. After taking some photos we move to the outside where I get a further explanation of what is located under the car, the airbrake work recently done on it and everything one should pay attention to when buying a car. I also get the chance to ask why the car is painted Empire Builder on one side andClick for larger image Big Sky Blue on the other side and hear that the previous owner likes both paint schemes and paints his GN cars this way for that reason. Different, but a neat solution. Plus it looks like you own twice the amount of cars than you really do, at least in photos. After a very informative explanation on what seems to be everything regarding a passenger car but probably is only part of the total picture I get my camera out and take some pictures of the outside. It was a great experience and a very informative afternoon. After locking the car, taking down the blue flag and unlocking the switch we head back towards the Twin Cities. With some time to spare we decide to head for Osceola to have a look inside of the cars I didn't get into on my visit yesterday. As we will be passing through theClick for larger image Lindstrom area I talk Eric into stopping at the GN X640 to see if the owners are home now and get permission to take photos from up close. When we pull in the driveway we're greeted by the owner's dogs which were barking loudly but turned out to be very friendly. I walk up to the door but no-one answers. Somewhat disappointed I walk back to the car but manage to grab a quick shot of the caboose on my way out. We continue-on to Osceola which we reach by sunset. We visit several of the passenger cars and caboose X71. I get further explanation of the problems MTM runs into maintaining and running these cars. There sure are many challenges to overcome to make it all work. We then drive back to the Jackson Street Roundhouse where our ways part. I thank Eric for a great day and return to my hotel for a nice dinner and a good night's sleep. Wow, passenger car ownership sure is interesting...


Day 20, Tuesday August 5: Minneapolis to Madison, WI


Click for larger imageThe last two days of my trip will be spent on a 'small' detour to see surviving GN rolling stock in Wisconsin. Most of the time will be spent on the Interstate but the destinations are certainly worth it. I start the day by stopping off at Walgreen's to pick up the thirty rolls of film I dropped off for developing yesterday (yes, I take both digital and regular photos). With x-ray machines at the airports turned up to max I don't want to risk taking exposed rolls home with me, just to discover that they were all ruined by their trip through the machine, so I have them all developed before flying. I'm surprised when the lady that developed them, thanks me for having a chance to look at them and tells me that she really enjoyed watching my trip through the eye of the camera. She was happy to finally see something else than just another set of family and baby snapshots! Before heading east into Wisconsin I make one last trip into town to Nicollet Island for the bridges there. Click for larger image One of them is the often photographed bridge carrying the Great Northern Railway name on its side. Because of my stop at Walgreen's I miss most of the morning rush-hour and have an easy drive into town and to Nicollet Island. The bridge is easily found - which couldn't be said about a parking spot, by the way. I first glance down from the overpass on the north end of the bridge to check where I can get a good angle for a shot. I had been warned about the summer foliage getting in the way and sure enough it makes it pretty much impossible to take a good photo. The Nicollet Island side of the bridge looks more promising so I head down there and hike in to the approach of the curved track that Click for larger image used to veer off to the west onto Nicollet island. The rail has been removed but the ties are still there. I get my photos. Then I hear a train approaching and feeling lucky I get into position to take a photo of hopefully yet another unit in those GN heritage colors of oran...huh...armour yellow? I never expected to see the Union Pacific using this river crossing. What a 'disappointment'. Well at least the photo came out nice! I take some additional photos of this side of the bridge and move to the other side. As expected the foliage prevents me from getting a good angle but I manage to get a photo in showing at least part of the lettering. Well, on to the other side of the island to check out theClick for larger image bridge there. Hmmm, bad angles again. I decide to go to the other side of the river and try my luck there. The river bank there is a nice park now and I can even easily park there, wow! I walk around to get some good angles and get my photos. The weather is not really cooperating today and my photos end up a bit dark but at least I got some photos of this river crossing now, and a reason to come back! The bridge still provides a crossing for through traffic but the approach that used to curve off to the east into GN's Minneapolis depot has largely been removed. It isn't hard to imagine how it looked though from what is still there. Well, enough seen here, so it's off to North Freedom for the Mid-Continent Railway Museum. Click for larger image The museum has a beautiful collection of early 1900s locomotives and rolling stock and even offers train rides. I get to the museum when the last train is already gone. When I ask for a ticket to see the museum I'm told that I can go in for free. Very nice! The museum's collection is amazing, not only because of the historical pieces it contains but also the size of the collection and the beauty of the restored pieces. For Great Northern fans several unique pieces are on display. First I head to the car barn and have a look at GNRHS member Jeff Haertlein's beautifully restored 25' wood caboose X582. Also located inside I find Montana Western 31, ex GN Gas Electric 2313 and GN wood coach 3261. Click for larger image All are in great shape but through the close proximity of all the pieces it's very difficult to take decent photos. Isn't that the case though, with most museums (hint)? I had hoped to find MW 31 in a better location because she would be dedicated as an ASME Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark the next week. Outside I get lucky with GN Heater Car #6 (former RPO #90) as she's parked in the clear away from any obstructions. In the yard I get to admire the large collection of cabooses, probably the most I've seen together at one single time! Parked in the rows of equipment waiting for restoration I find LST&T #55 a Jordan spreader. One more car to find, and not just any car: GN A-22 James J. Hill's personal business car. It took me a while but I eventually find it covered by a large tarp which is of course good from a preservation standpoint, but really sucks in photography. So for now we'll have to do with photos of a tarp... Wouldn't it be great if the Click for larger image museum would make A-22 a priority and restore it, including the drive-in garage that used to occupy one end, and which was used to carry J.J. Hill's private automobile on his trips! After looking at several other pieces in this great collection I head out and continue east towards Milwaukee. The only still fully original GN Mountain series large-window observation car is located in Milwaukee and according to the limited information I could find still in regular use as a bar; the Great Northern bar. It's run by a former GN dining car waiter and should hopefully be open by the time I get there (about 7 pm). I did my homework for this one and she's easily found despite the plethora of one-way streets surrounding it. GN 1292 'Going-to-the-Sun Mountain' is surrounded by otherClick for larger image passenger cars, mostly of Milwaukee heritage as well as a Milwaukee rib-side caboose. Nice collection! The sad part is that I find the bar closed. I will just get my photos and see if they'll open later. As I want to build a model of this car (my favorite type of observation car) I make sure to get several photos of the underbody equipment which seems to all still be there. When I'm just about done taking pictures I'm being startled by a man suddenly appearing from behind the car 'asking' me what I'm doing. I explain my interest in the car and that I'm just taking photos. I'm told that I'm trespassing on private property (did I miss a sign?) and that the alarm had Click for larger image set off and he was called to check things out. I'm also told that usually they send the police and that I would have been fined for trespassing if they had come out instead. Wow, an alarm, trespassing, police, fines. What is this car made off, gold? Geesh, I can understand that you don't want people vandalizing your equipment but this sounds to me to be a bit of an overkill, especially when I'm being told that the run down neighborhood it's located in, hasn't caused any problems yet. Anyway, we get to talk about the car and actually have a fairly nice conversation about it. I learn that the bar closed a while back and will probably not reopen again. What a shame. With the atmosphere turned friendly I request to see the car on the inside, but that request gets denied. I apologize for the inconvenience and leave to go to my hotel in Madison. Enough adventures for today.


Day 21, Wednesday August 6: Madison to Minneapolis


Click for larger imageToday marks the last day of my trip through Lines East and is also the day on which I will fly back to Holland. The departure is for early in the evening so I have some time left to make one last stop; Bangor, WI. Home to several cabooses of which a number have been classified as GN or possibly GN. It's time to go there and find out for sure. I'm expecting to find these cabooses in use but they turn out to be on display or in use as an office. I spot two at the office building. Luckily for me some people are standing outside talking so I can ask about the cabooses and if I'm allowed to take photos. Click for larger image They tell me there are three cabooses there of which one is located across the street. I thank them for the info and proceed to take my photos. Only one caboose is of GN heritage: X715, a 25' wood cupola-less caboose. The other caboose at the office is clearly of NP heritage but a number can't be found. Across the street I find the third caboose in use as an office. To indicate its decent would only be guessing for me so I will not, but it definitely is not GN or NP. Having solved this mystery I continue on my way back to the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport to board my flight to Amsterdam. Road construction slows me down again here, but I make it in time. With a wide turn we fly over the Twin Cities area and head northeast for our Atlantic crossing, leaving GN country behind with a last look at the GN ore docks at Allouez clearly visible from high above. It certainly has been a great trip!


I wrote this lengthy and detailed account of my trip to not only share my findings but to also give an impression of how it is to go on a trip like this. I can really recommend taking these trips and hope some of you will. It definitely is a rewarding way of discovering GN country and the many GN treasures it still beholds. One word of advice though: driving 300 to 450 miles a day is quite a lot especially if you figure in the time-consuming stops on the way. Start by taking shorter trips than the ones I made and see how you like it. I'm sure you'll enjoy them!