Minnesota Steam Locomotives

Minnesota is home to almost 40 steam locomotives. The most impressive of these would be the three 2-8-8-4 Yellowstones in the Duluth area. Minnesota is also the home of the well-known Mailwaukee Road 4-8-4 261 and the Minnesota Transportation Museum.

The Iron Range

Most of the steam locomotives found on display in the Iron Range of northern Minnesota were once owned by iron hauling lines such as the Duluth, Missabe & Northern Railway or the Duluth & Iron Range Railroad. The most impressive of these locomotives were the DM&IR 2-8-8-4 Yellowstones.

Duluth & Northeastern 2-8-0 27.


Duluth & Northeastern class C-3 Consolidation number 27 is on display at the Carlton County Fairground in Barnum, MN.

Northern Pacific 0-6-0 10. Barry Moore photo.


Brainerd is not exactly part of the Iron Range but I'm going to list this locomotive here anyway. This odd looking tank locomotive used to operate at the tie plant in Brainerd. It is currently on display in Lum Park. It was built in 1896 as a class L-4 0-6-0 switcher for the St. Paul & Duluth Railroad (which was absorbed into the Northern Pacific in 1901). There is one other surviving St. Paul & Duluth locomotive. It is number 924, an NP Class L-5 0-6-0 in Snoqualmie, WA which is undergoing a slow restoration to operating condition at the Northwest Railway Museum.

Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range 2-8-0 347. Jeff Terry photo.


Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range class C-3 2-8-0 number 347 is displayed at the Museum of Mining in Chisholm.


Duluth & Northeastern 16.


Duluth & Northeastern Consolidation #16 is displayed in Fauley Park in Cloquet.

Duluth & Northeastern 14.

This is a sister to the D&NE locomotive #16 in Cloquet. This photo appeared in a 1962 Minneapolis area paper. The caption stated that this locomotive, number 14, was towed into Worthington, MN enroute to Hill City, SD where it would be converted to burn oil and used by the Black Hills Central Railroad. I am assuming that #14 was stored in Cloquet before it made its journey to Hill City, SD. As it turned out, #14's wheelbase was too long for the curves on the Black Hills Central. #14 was not restored or converted to burn oil. Instead, it was sold to the Dodge City, Ford & Bucklin Railroad in Ford, KS. In 1999 #14 was up for sale again. It was reportedly in excellent condition. In 2000, it was seen heading west on a flatcar on its way to the Fillmore & Western Railway where it was converted to burn oil and operates today.

Duluth - Lake Superior Railroad Museum

The Lake Superior Railroad Museum is located in downtown Duluth. It has a respectable collection of eight steam locomotives including the William Crooks (the first locomotive in Minnesota) and a DM&IR Yellowstone. Back in the mid 1990s, they also restored and operated D&NM 2-8-2 Mikado number 14. This locomotive is now on display at the museum

William Crooks

Great Northern 4-4-0 William Crooks

The "William Crooks" (a 4-4-0) was Minnesota's first steam engine. It was owned by railroad pioneer James J. Hill. For many years this locomotive was displayed inside the Union Depot in downtown St. Paul.

Duluth & Northern Minnesota 14.

Duluth & Northern Minnesota 2-8-2 14

The Duluth & Northern Minnesota #14 was restored to operating condition in the early 1990s. It was used in the movie "Iron Will" which was filmed in the "Arrowhead" region of Minnesota in 1993. From time to time it had operated on the North Shore Scenic Railroad.

14 last ran at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum in October, 1998. Since then, it was stored, outdoors at the museum site in Duluth. In the years that followed 1998, the group had no plans to run the engine again and had let it weather badly outside. As a result, it would require quite a bit of time and money to bring the engine back into compliance with FRA steam rules. In 2001 there had been some discussion among the museum members about the possibility of reconditioning and restoring number 14 to working order again. However, those plans never materialized.


  • 14 (Photo courtesy Jeff Terry)

Northern Pacific 2435. Jeff Terry photo.

Northern Pacific 2-6-2 2435

Northern Pacific 2-6-2 number 2435 is displayed outdoors (but under roof) at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum in Duluth. This engine used to be on display in a Duluth park, but was brought to the museum in the mid-1970s. Nothing has ever been done to the engine preservation wise since it left the park. Note the big patch in the boiler jacket below the steam dome.

Oliver Iron Mining 806. Jeff Terry photo.

Mountain Iron

Oliver Iron Mining Co. class S-4 0-8-0 number 806 is on display in Mountain Iron. Note the cab was rebuilt a few years ago during a cosmetic restoration. This locomotive used to be number 64 on the Duluth, Missabe & Northern.


Duluth & Iron Range 1218. Jeff Terry photo.


Duluth & Iron Range class K-1 2-8-0 number 1218 is on display at the Tower Train Museum in Tower. The engine looks nice from a distance with fresh paint and lettering. However, an up-close inspection reveals that it is mechanically worn out and in very poor condition. The roof is nice from a preservation stand point, but makes photography difficult. Note all the modern features to this relatively old and small locomotive. The tender was undersized so that the engine could fit on the turntable at Two Harbors.


Duluth & Iron Range 3. Jeff Terry photo.

Two Harbors

Duluth & Iron Range No. 3 is on display at Two Harbors. It appears to be in very good shape considering that it has sat outdoors on exhibit since 1923. It looks somewhat like it did when it first arrived at Two Harbors in the mid 1880s, but the headlamp is one it acquired from it's second owner, the Duluth & Northern Minnesota.

The first 5 D&IR engines were built as wood-burners. This was because from 1883 to December, 1886 there was no rail connection with the outside world for the D&IR and coal had to be brought in by steamships. However, since the lake freezes over every winter, there was not a year-round supply of coal. The railroad needed to run all 12 months. If the coal ran out during the winter it would be a problem. For this reason two passenger locomotives ,two switcher locomotives, and one freight locomotive (No.3) were built to burn wood. Those were the only engines they needed during the winter months. The ore hauling engines (class G) were thoroughly overhauled during the winter so they would be in perfect shape for the ore season. It is likely that none of the engines actually using wood for fuel by necessity. The one exception is possibly No. 3 during the very early stages of construction. They may have used wood in the others to conserve coal during idle periods. Wood in Two Harbors was readily available from the company sawmill.

One of the cylinders on number 3 broke and seized when it was last used on the D&NM in 1920. It was left that way and is still in that condition today.

Central Minnesota

Northern Pacific 4-6-0 328. 1991 photo by Wes Barris.

St. Paul - The Minnesota Transportation Museum

The Minnesota Transportation Museum is an operating museum. It's three major components used to be the railroad division, the traction division, and the steamboat division. However, after some re-organization, these divisions split up and now the three major components are The Osceola & St. Croix Valley Railway in Osceola, WI, the Jackson Street Roundhouse, and the Classic Busses division.

Before moving their operations to Osceola, WI, the Minnesota Transportation Museum operated a tourist railroad based in Stillwater, MN. This photo shows their Ten-Wheeler steam locomotive number 328. This locomotive was once displayed near the riverfront in Stillwater. 328 last operated in 1999.

NP 2156 at the Como Park Zoo.

Another steam locomotive at the Minnesota Transportation Museum is NP Pacific 4-6-2 number 2156. 2156 was displayed for a long time in Como Park Zoo in St. Paul. This photograph shows members of the Minnesota Railfans Association giving 2156 a paint job while she was still located at the zoo. Currently, 2156 is partially disassembled at the Jackson Street Roundhouse in St. Paul.

Photos and Information

Milwaukee 261 outside GE Apparatus shop. Wes Barris photo.

Minneapolis - Milwaukee Road 261

North Star Rail leased the Milwaukee Road 261 from the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, WI in the early 1990s. North Star Rail restored 261 to operating condition and is now using it to pull excursion trains throughout the mid-west. 261s only surviving sister engine is the 265 located at the Illinois Railway Museum.

Photos and Information

1929 photo of the Stone Arch Bridge

Minneapolis - The James J. Hill Stone Arch Bridge

The "Stone Arch Bridge", which spans the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis, was built in 1882-83. It was a project of the Minneapolis Union Railway Co., a belt line of the Great Northern's forerunner, the St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba. The project took 19 months and cost $6,500,000. Granite from St. Cloud, MN was used in its construction. The bridge spans 2,100 feet.

The Great Northern's first Empire Builder entered service in 1929 and is pictured crossing the famed Stone Arch Bridge that same year. The locomotive , No. 2517, won the "Marathon" name on its tender in 1925 by making a fast 3,600-mile round trip between Seattle, WA, and St. Paul, MN without requiring mechanical attention. The bridge is the only structure on the railway on which "Empire Builder" James J. Hill permitted his name to be inscribed. The flour mills of St. Anthony are seen in the upper left of the photograph. This photograph was taken on the downtown Minneapolis side of the river looking north-northeast.

At the time this bridge was built, St. Anthony was as far as river traffic could travel up-stream. Stone from which to build this bridge was readily available. This artist's rendering of the bridge is from the east end of the bridge, looking westward toward downtown Minneapolis. Notice in the distance a suspension bridge. Today, that bridge has been replaced by a new suspension bridge -- the only one crossing the Mississippi River.

Today, this bridge is recognized as a National Civil Engineering Landmark. It now serves as a pedestrian and bike trail and offers a panoramic view of St. Anthony Falls.


Grand Trunk Western 8327. Wes Barris photo.

St. Paul - Bandana Square

This is one of several surviving Grand Trunk Western 0-8-0s. It is on display in front of a shopping complex in St. Paul called Bandana Square. The number of this locomotive is 8327.

Dresser Trap Rock 4

Chisago City - Ironhorse Railroad Park

The Ironhorse Railroad Park is located near Chisago City and Lindstrom. There are two 0-4-0T locomotives formerly owned by Dresser Trap Rock of Dresser, WI at the Ironhorse Railroad Park. The photo on the right appeared in an article written by Marlin Bree for a 1969 issue of Picture Magazine. The photo was taken by Kent Kobersteen.

0-4-0 #4 was built in Pittsburgh by the H. K. Porter Co. in 1923.It was run for a while in Chicago, then sold to the Tallassee Power Co. in Calderwood, TN. In 1931, the Dresser Trap Rock Company bought the locomotive. It was still operating in 1963 when Bob and Dick Thompson of the Ironhorse Central bought the locomotive for $1,250. Number 4 is still operable and was steamed up in 1999. It has had its saddle tank removed and currently tows a D&NE tender. Number 1 is currently stored awaiting repairs. They also have a mile of track and several pieces of rolling stock.

The Railroad Park has a number of buildings used to keep most of their equipment indoors. They have a 1895 St. Paul & Duluth depot as the memorabilia display area of the museum. They are able to accommodate special groups and have a large picnic ground area and picnic and parking facilities.


Decauville 0-4-0T. Photo by Jeff Terry.

Dalton - Lake Region Pioneer Threshermen's Association

This little 2' gauge 0-4-0T runs the weekend after Labor Day during the annual show of the Lake Region Pioneer Thresherman's Association at Dalton,MN. It is very unique as it was constructed by the Decauville firm of Paris, France in 1914. It is the only locomotive built by Decauville in North America. During the summer of 2000 it was completely overhauled by members of the Thresherman's association, and repainted. The tender is home built and used to provide extra coal.

The engine is very typical of the industrial steam power used in Europe during both World Wars. This engine was retired sometime during the early 1960s and purchased by an Iowa steam locomotive collector along with several others. They were subsequently brought overseas to the US and many have found new homes on railroads such as this one. One of the other locomotives shipped with this one went to Northfield, MN, on the Northfield & Cannon Valley.


GN 4-8-2 2523. Willmar photo by Rod Krotzer.

Willmar - Great Northern Station

Great Northern class P-2 Mountain (4-8-2) #2523 is located at the 1869 Great Northern Station, the home of the Kandiyohi County Historical Society. This locomotive is a survivor of the steam engines acquired by the Great Northern Railway to speed up mainline passenger service. It was placed on permanent display on October 17th, 1967. The P-2 class was inaugurated as the Empire Builder in June of 1929. Number 2523 is the last of 28 locomotives built for the Great Northern by the Baldwin Locomotive Works. After these engines were replaced by the more powerful S-2 class locomotives, the P-2 engines were used in freight service and were retired in 1955. The locomotive and tender are 94 feet 6 1/4 inches in length, weigh 617,000 pounds and stand 15 feet 10 inches from rail to the top of the stack. No. 2523 was an oil burner and generated 57,580 pounds of tractive effort. The drive wheels are 73 inches in diameter.

Southwestern Minnesota Steam

Georgia Northern 102. 1999 photo by Wes Barris.

Currie - End-O-Line Railroad Park

Tucked away in the small town of Currie is an amazing collection of railroad-related buildings, scale trains, a turntable, engine house and Georgia Northern ten-wheeler 102. 102 used to be displayed at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, IL.

The railroad that used to run to Currie was a branch line of the CSTPM&O, (Omaha for short) that came off the main line at Bingham Lake, MN. It went through Delft, Jeffers, Storden, Westbroke, Dovry, and ended at Currie. Hence the museum name. The line was planned to continue to the Pipestone Line at Slayton but was never completed. The Pipestone line was another branch of the Omaha and started off the main line at Heron Lake. It connected to the GN, Milwaukee, and Rock Island at Pipestone, but did not go any further west. The tracks in Currie spurred off four other lines creating a "fork" off the main line. One was to the water tower, sand tower, coal shed, engine house, and the turntable. The other three passed across the road to three former grain elevators, freight line, and passenger line. This is where the original depot once stood. It is now located across the road in the park next to the engine house and the turntable.


In 1995, the ten-wheeler was undergoing a cosmetic restoration as shown in one of the photos below. The other two photos show 102 as it looks in 1999. ) in the foreground, the engine house, the depot, and GAN 102. The track/roadbed on which 102 is sitting looks authentic.

Wheels Across the Prairie Museum, Tracy

An 0-6-0 is displayed at the Wheels Across the Prairie Museum in Tracy. It is a class B-4 Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sioux Ste. Marie locomotive built by ALCO in 1915. It was used in the St. Paul yards to haul coal to the Northern States Power Plant. Upon retirement, it was sold to a restaurant owner in Rochester, MN where it became part of the Depot House Restaurant. It was later sold to the Salvation Army in Rochester and displayed near an outlet store. In 1990 it was sold to the Mt. Pleasant Shop Services. Finally, on April 4th, 1990, it was sold to the Wheels Across the Prairie Museum and moved to its current location on Thanksgiving of that year. The balloon stack and pilot were added by the museum people to make the locomotive look more "attractive".

Duluth & Northeastern 0-6-0 29

Prairie Village, Madison, SD

I know that Prairie Village is not in Minnesota. However, it is only a short drive across the South Dakota border. Prairie Village is located on Hwy 34 & 81 just west of Madison. Prairie Village is a 140 acre site containing historic buildings and equipment. There is an oval of standard gauge track running around the site. They have three steam locomotives, two of which are operational.

No. 29 is a Duluth & Northeastern 0-6-0 built by Lima in 1944. At the time of my visit, it appeared to need a lot of attention. During the summer of 2001,the flues were replaced.

Built by ALCO in 1924, no. 11 is a well-traveled locomotive. It has operated on the Kelley Island Lime & Transport Co., Rockport, MI, as no. 13. It was sold to A. Fivenson Iron & Metal Co. in Alpena, MI. Starting in 1964, it operated on the Cadillac & Lake City Railroad in MI. In 1973 it was moved to the Reese Central Railroad and Museum in Reese, MI. In 1979 it was sold to Jerry Jacobson, Southwest Virginia Scenic Railroad in Hiltons, VA where it was changed into a 2-4-0 and was given a tender. It then operated for two seasons on the Deadwood Central Railroad in SD. The tender that was used with this locomotive while it was in service on the Deadwood Central is parked off in the weeds.

No. 7 is a Hibernia A.G. 0-4-0T (narrow gauge) locomotive built by Orenstein & Koppel in 1927. It was sold in 1965 to Earl Grice in Mankato, MN. It was sold again in 1969 to the Prairie Historical Club. It is currently undergoing restoration in a newly built three-stall roundhouse.

Southern Minnesota Steam

Janesville / Annandale / Chaska

M&St.L 2-8-0 471. Anthony Wessel photo.

Minneapolis & St. Louis 471

M&St.L 471 was purchased from the M&St.L by the Klein Brick Company of Chaska, MN back in 1943. One report said that it was used for switching at the Klein Brick yards. However, I am not sure there was ever any "railroad yard" at the Klein Brick yards. Another report said that it was used exclusively for heating water and was located near the old circular kilns of orange firebrick. After retirement from Klein, 471 was placed on display at the site of the former brick yards. It has one surviving sister locomotive which is very well cared for in Mason City, IA.

Around 1968, 471 was purchased by Don Lind of Annandale, MN. In February 1973, it was moved to his property in Annandale. Mr. Lind intended to create a museum called the Minnesota & Western Railroad Museum. This museum never materialized. Reports indicate that 471 and a Coronet Phosphate 2-6-2T rusted away at that location in Annandale for many years.

In 2014 471 was moved to the new Colfax Railroad Museum in Janesville, MN. There it will receive some cosmetic work to make it a proper display piece.

M&St.L 2-8-0 451. Frank Swick photo.

M&St.L 457

This is the only surviving sister (or cousin) locomotive to M&StL 471. It is class H5-39 (H5-42 may have been stenciled on the cab) M&StL 457 currently on display in East Park, Mason City, IA. It was last used in service by the American Crystal Sugar Company in Mason City who donated it to the city after its retirement. For many years it sat on display in very poor condition. It hadn't been painted in over a decade and the headlight was broken. At least the boiler jacketing had been removed.

In 2005 the outlook for 457 improved substantially. Prompted by the vision of Gene Green of Texas, Friends of the 457 "Cannonball" have worked in cooperation with the Mason City Parks Dept to do a complete and impressive cosmetic restoration of the engine. A shelter roof that is reminiscent of a depot cover and brick platform were constructed. The headlamps are operational. The engine was equipped with a sound system which enabled kids to push a button and hear steam locomotive sounds.


Chaska Sugar Factory. 6/9/1959 photo by Dick Schmieg.

M&St.L 452

A third M&StL locomotive (number 452) of the same class was used at the American Crystal Sugar factory in Chaska through 1959. I have also been told that the M&StL used to send this locomotive to the sugar factory each fall for switching duties during the "campaign". 452 may have also been used on "steam specials" out of Minneapolis. Being the last M&StL steam locomotive in service, 452 was scrapped around 1966 or 1967. If anyone has any information on number 452 (like where it was between 1958 and the time of its scrapping) or steam operations at the Chaska Sugar Factory, please let me know.


Crane in Chaska clay hole

Chaska - Crane in "clay hole"

This has nothing to do with steam locomotives. However, it does have something to do with Chaska and the Klein Brick yards, and besides, I find it very interesting. Years ago there were five "clay holes" in Chaska (four of them remain today). One of these "clay holes" is located just east of Hwy 41 north of downtown Chaska. They were created by the Klein Brick company. Cranes would be used to excavate areas (pits) where good brick-making clay was found. Sooner or later, a natural spring would be "found". As the water began to fill up the "clay hole", the digging equipment had to be moved out of the hole. As a child, I remember seeing the boom of a crane poking out of the water of the center of this "clay hole". Some people didn't believe me. I began doubting my own memory. Then, in 2001, my mom finds this photo. It shows the crane at the bottom of this"clay hole" well before it was covered.

Hans Vattern 0-4-0 504

Northfield - Northfield & Cannon Valley Railroad

This is one of two small locomotives that once operated in Northfield on the Northfield & Cannon Valley Railroad. 504 was built by Kolben-Danek in 1941. It is a 600mm gauge 0-4-0. Operations ceased on the N&CV around 2011. In 2016 both locomotives were purchased and moved to Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO. 504 now operates there.


Illinois Central 201. Photo by John Archibald.

Owatonna - Heritage Hall

There used to be a standard gauge 2-4-4T on Owatonna. It was numbered 201 and used to run on the Illinois Central. It was moved to the Illinois Railway Museum.

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