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The LST&T Railroad


The following information was kindly provided by Otto P. Dobnick


The Lake Superior Terminal & Transfer Railroad, full corporate name, the Lake Superior Terminal & Transfer Railway of the State of Wisconsin (big name, small railroad) operated about two dozen miles of trackage entirely within the City of Superior from the 1880's to the 1980's. It never went to Duluth.



Through most of its existence and into "modern" post-war times, it performed three principal functions:

1) Performed terminal and switching services for its four owners in Superior: the GN, NP, Omaha, and DSSA. Much of this involved transferring cars to and from the non-owning railroads in the area, Soo, DWP, and Milwaukee Road.

2) Operating as a joint-facility for its owning railroads to serve and switch many of the customers along Superior's waterfront. These were principally grain elevators (including Farmer's Union, claimed to be the world's tallest elevator) along the Tower Bay line; and coal and other bulk docks in the area where the Ortran Coal Terminal now is
and in Superior's North End. In recent years, LST&T also had the honor of switching the car ferry dock, loading and unloading the Incan Superior from Thunder Bay.

3) Owned and operated the Union Depot in Superior which was used by GN and NP passenger trains and later Amtrak. The company offices were here also.

Four Directions


In general terms, the LST&T radiated from its "hub" at the Union Depot and LST&T Jct. in all four directions:

South - To LST&T's own yard and Belknap St. where the line connected to the NP main, now the "coal main". GN and NP passenger trains used this segment of the "Terminal".

North - Alongside the Omaha's Superior Yard to the LST&T's Tower Bay line which served the Farmers Union elevator then wandered east past the Fraser-Nelson shipyard, past the south end of Connor's Point, then southwest to Catlin Ave. At Connor's Point, a branch broke off the main and went southeast past the gas plant to about Barker's Island where it connected with the NP Old Town line.

East - Down the famed Winter Street Corridor between the Soo and Omaha mains to Catlin Avenue, connecting with the other end of the Tower Bay line, forming a large loop.

West - From LST&T Jct. paralleling the NP main to serve the coal docks and some manufacturers; later also the car ferry.



Operations-wise, the Terminal was mostly a first and second trick railroad with some third shift during busy times such as the traditional grain rush. Early in the morning on weekdays, the crews and their switchers would gather in front of the depot to figure out the days work. I don't know all the exact details, but one job could always be found switching the yard just south of the depot. It would do transfers over to the GN. Another job would work the Tower Bay line all day. During the grain rush, more than one shift would see a job on this line, working clockwise from the yard and depot to Farmer's Union at the foot of Tower Avenue, then past Fraser-Nelson, down to Catlin Avenue, then back west along Winter St. past the Soo and Omaha passenger depots, then back into the yard. The LST&T transfers to the GN and Omaha were short hauls, just far enough to delay traffic on the Winter St. crossings and clatter through LST&T Jct. The LST&T seemed to make one or two daily transfers to the Soo at 21st St. Yard. I don't think the Terminal ever went as far as Soo's Stinson Ave. Yard. The Soo transfers and the Tower Bay jobs seemed to normally rate a pair of switchers. Other assignments got one. All the activity around the depot, of course, had to steer clear of scheduled passenger trains such as the GN Badger and Gopher and the NP Budd RDC cars.




Equipment consisted of six EMD switchers which replaced 0-6-0's and 0-8-0's, a fleet of wooden cabooses cast off by the GN and NP, 2 sand cars, and a few motor vehicles.


To see pictures of LST&T switchers in action please click here.


Dan Mitchell kindly provided the following information.


I visited the LST&T many times. In the 1970's, the story I was told by various personnel there was that the railroad was owned 50% by Burlington Northern, and 25% each by Soo and C&NW. Exactly what the ownership was prior to the BN merger I'm not sure.

I suspect the 50% GN ownership predates the BN merger as the paint schemes of the locomotives would indicate.

The 'old' GN paint was kept for years after the BN merger as neither Soo or C&NW would allow the BN green to be put on 'their' (50%, collectively) locos. The old GN colors (with yellow stripes and all) were considered sort of neutral territory, and didn't make anyone mad. They continued to paint the locos in the GN colors well after the BN
merger ... it was the last place you could see a fresh GN paint scheme (except the lettering) still in service. Sure looked nice!

They also usually ran their switchers nose to nose in pairs on the transfer runs ... kind'a different. Usually you see them cab to cab on most railroads .. even BN seems to do this now in the Superior area
(I've seen it several times). Is this now the norm?


Today it's still active, at least as far as operations go, many of the same movements continue, but it seems to have been totally engulfed into BNSF. All the locomotives doing the old LST&T moves are now BNSF. I haven't talked with any of the crews since the BNSF merger, so I'm not sure of the current structure of the company, if it still exists.

As of last summer, the LST&T roundhouse was still there, heavily modified into something else. That was done many years ago, but it's still recognizable as a roundhouse. The turntable was removed long ago.

The GN roundhouse at Superior has been totally torn down also, about ten years ago, and the turntable removed. The old car shop now serves as a Diesel shop. The large steam era backshop is still there, sided over with aluminum, and now used as a warehouse by a building supplies contractor. It still has the typical clearstory roof, so it's easy to spot.

There's really not a lot left of the old GN in the Superior area anymore. The carshop (still in use), the backshop (now used for something else), the big old grain elevator (still in use), and the old Superior depot (now used for something else) are about it.