Minnesota Railfan Trip Featuring Milwaukee Road 261 and Canadian Pacific 2816

This shot taken as the 261 and 2816 led a Doubleheader out of Winona, MN on July 3, 2004

Let's start at the beginning. I arrived in Minneapolis on July 1st, and proceeded directly from the airport to the home of the Milwaukee Road 261 at Minneapolis Junction. Welcomed by the crew members there, I had a grand tour of the shop and yard. Steve and Megan Sandberg were working, as was everyone else in the volunteer crew, to get all of the cars ready to roll for the last three days of a grueling two week run. Don Crimmin, Brent Amsden, Judy and Frank, Mark Dalquist, Ed Selinsky, Jason, Doug, Tom, Dick Jost, and everyone else whose names I have forgotten to include were just wonderful hosts.

Here is the star of the show getting ready to run yet again.

And Jason was hostling. The young man knows steam.

If I told you how I got this shot from the interior of the prestigious (and recently completely rebuilt) Skytop Lounge, I'd have to kill you. What a great car.

Mystery solved, as Don Crimmin and a few other crew members are showing me how they engineered and hid the Amtrak 480 volt service. These guys are good.

Next day, not far out of St. Paul, 261 crosses the mighty Mississippi River at Prescott, WI. I recruited a local lady, Susan, to shoot my still photos while I operated the video camera. These two photos are a tribute to Susan's talent as a photographer. I don't know her last name.

I couldn't catch the 261 as she stormed south on the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi, so I crossed back into Minnesota and camped at Red Wing, for the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Hudson 2816. Just look at this beauty. As a New York Central guy, I love Hudsons, and this one is one of the prettiest restorations I have seen. Last time I had seen her was at Steamtown in 1995 as she sat rusting.



And what to my railfanning eyes should appear, but a jolly old hogger, a real engineer. Doyle McCormack was operating 2816. Both of us were a long way from home.

The next day's weather wasn't too great, but the railroad show was. The 2816 and 261 ran a double-headed trip from St. Paul to La Crescent and back. It doesn't get much better than being hauled around by a Hudson and a Northern. All through the trips which were part of the Grand Excursion, river boats would be met and whistle contests held. Great shows, all. The ultimate goal was to arrive back at St. Paul as all of the river boats, as the Delta Queen and Mississippi Queen and countless others arrived.

As you can see, the weather did not cooperate. We still had fun.

On the final day, July 4th, 261 ran up Short Line Hill which was an experience, as it's the steepest RR grade in Minnesota, or so I was told by those Uff Da folks. Here she is on the way back to the shop at Jackson Street.

Here she is ready to be "put to bed" until the next trip. A great locomotive and a great crew.

Supplemental Photos by Jim Wrinn of the North Carolina RR Museum, Spencer shops. Jim sent these to me as Kodachrome slides. My scanner didn't do them justice. The first one is leaving St. Paul on July 3rd, nice skyline shot.

A zoom in on that departure.

I think this one is outside of Red Wing.

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Created July 7, 2004, Revised Sept. 13, 2004