The original Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad was the first railroad into Duluth.
The advent of this rail link was considered the most important event in the history of the state of Minnesota, as well as in the railroad development of the country. The 154 miles of track connected the head of navigation on Lake Superior with the head of navigation on the Mississippi River. This opened up a viable means to transport goods to Lake Superior for shipping to Eastern markets.
The section of track from Thomson to Fond du Lac, known as the skally line followed the St. Louis River through Jay Cooke Park. This portion of the original track had uneven terrain, a steep and long (nine mile) grade and high wooden trestles. These trestles were difficult to maintain and posed a fire threat due to the wood burning locomotives of the day. The Duluth Short Line Railway built an alternate route into Duluth in 1888 largely following the current Munger Trail eliminating the dangers of the skally line.
Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad History
The LS&M became the St. Paul & Duluth Railway and later a part of the Northern Pacific Railway which constructed railroad to the West bringing transcontinental shipment of goods to Duluth.
Happy birthday to the first train in duluth
August 1, 2020, is a time for celebration on the Railroad: the 150th year anniversary of completion of the original Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad into Duluth.
The St. Paul Press (newspaper) printed the following on August 2, 1870. “At thirty-five minutes past 11 o’clock p.m. of August 1st, 1870, the First Through Train [sic] on the Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad arrived at Duluth—having left St. Paul at seven o’clock and fifteen minutes the same morning. Late was the hour crowds of the people of Duluth lined the track and surrounded the Depot on the Lake Shore [sic], and bonfires blazed and human voices cheered as the locomotive that had in the morning drank of the waters of the Mississippi stood smoking panting, and thirsty on the shores of our Inland Sea and replenished its tank from its crystal waters alongside the track.”
The Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad organization of today is an all-volunteer tourist excursion that follows the 6 miles of the original route from West Duluth to Boy Scout Landing in Gary New Duluth.
It has been decided that “In the best interest of safety for all passengers, crews and operations volunteers, the excursion opening will be postponed until the 2023 season. During the downtime of the 2022 season the crew stay busy doing track improvements, engine updates, renovating coaches and cars and more. Check the website, www.lsmrr.org, and Facebook for further information on the current season operation and updates for 2023.