Minnesota Transportation Museum

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Minnesota Transportation Museum
Minnehaha Depot.jpg
Minnehaha Depot at the Minnehaha Historic District
Coordinates 44°57′45″N 93°5′46″W / 44.96250°N 93.09611°W / 44.96250; -93.09611Coordinates: 44°57′45″N 93°5′46″W / 44.96250°N 93.09611°W / 44.96250; -93.09611
Type Transportation museum

The Minnesota Transportation Museum (MTM, reporting mark MNTX[1]) is a transportation museum in Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States.

The MTM operates several heritage transportation sites in Minnesota and one in Wisconsin. The museum is actively involved in preserving local railroad, bus and streetcar history.

The MTM was formed in 1962 to save a streetcar that had been built and operated by Twin City Rapid Transit (TCRT) in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Many of the museum's early members were formerly part of the Minnesota Railfans Association, which had organized railfan trips from the 1940s-1960s.

In 2004–2005, the organization's streetcar operations became the Minnesota Streetcar Museum. In addition, a steamboat that was originally built by TCRT in a style similar to its streetcars became the Museum of Lake Minnetonka.

Minnehaha Depot[edit]

After the first streetcar, TCRT #1300, was successfully restored, other projects were examined in the time before the streetcar could be put on its own set of rails.

The Minnehaha Depot was a former Milwaukee Road depot at Minnehaha Falls. The station, built in 1875, was nicknamed "The Princess" because of its delicate architecture. The depot is a contributing property to the Minnehaha Historic District. Trains running on special routes have sometimes stopped at the station, and it was eventually integrated into the area streetcar system. Tracks owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway reach the station, though it is at the disused end of a rail spur.

The depot is owned by the Minnesota Historical Society, and the Minnesota Transportation Museum operates the depot for the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS). In 1967 the depot became the first building to be restored by the museum and it was outfitted with exhibits. Today, the METRO Blue Line station serving Minnehaha Park is located across the road from the old depot.

Classic buses[edit]

The Minnesota Transportation Museum pressed this classic General Motors bus back into service as part of the Blue Line light rail opening in June 2004.

Several buses from the 1940s and 1950s are also operated by the museum. Most equipment in the bus collection were built by the GMC division of General Motors, and represent vehicles that replaced the streetcars in the Twin Cities in the 1950s. The conversion from a streetcar to bus system required two years. The last trolley run was on Hennepin Avenue on June 18, 1954.[2]

The collection consists of multiple buses operated in and across Minnesota. Earliest is a 1935 Yellow Coach, formerly of Rochester, MN, a Duluth Transit Flexible, a 1942 Mack (used in conjunction with the Commemorative Air Force), a 1956 Greyhound SuperScenicruiser (under restoration), and a block of 1953/54 GMC transit units, two of which are painted in original Twin Cities Lines colors. The buses are used in regular charter service, and form a very visible part of the Museum's collection, often used in wedding charters.

This part of the collection is sponsored by Richfield Bus Company, graciously providing maintenance and licensing to operate them.

As the museum has acquired much of its bus collection from Metro Transit, the bus company sometimes requests the use of the old buses for special events.

Osceola & St. Croix Valley Railway[edit]

MTM, in conjunction with the Historical Society of Osceola, Wisconsin, operates a heritage railroad called the Osceola and St. Croix Valley Railway. Excursion trains are operated on trackage formerly owned by Wisconsin Central Ltd., now part of Canadian National Railway.

Excursion trains operate from the historic Osceola Depot, north to Dresser, Wisconsin, and southbound to and through the scenic St. Croix River Valley. Regular schedules begin on the first weekend in May, continuing through the last week of October. Special Event trains operate through the season, including Mother's & Father's Day dining specials, the popular fireworks train to Marine-on-St Croix, the Pumpkin Train (Halloween) and Fall Leaf Viewing trains through the River Valley. Passenger classes are General Tourist, First Class and Dining Car.

Dining Car service is handled by the Osceola & St Croix Dinner Train, operating on alternating weekends. Service includes Brunch and Dinner, classic affairs done in the old "high dollar style". All Dinner Trains are "full service", served by staff on matched white linens & original diner china, 60 to 90 years old. In the past few years, the Dinner Train has been noted as "the place" for graduation dinners, weddings & receptions, and anniversaries.

It is listed in several travel reviews as having "Four Star" service.

At the Osceola service area, several locomotives and pieces of rolling stock will be on display. All equipment has been reconditioned to standard operating condition, including classic 1920's open window coaches, Great Northern express coaches and a refreshment car. Locomotives currently in running condition are classic diesel-electric.

In past years the classic steam engine, Northern Pacific #328 (4-6-0) was used to pull the trains, but has been placed in restoration status due to its age (107 yrs).

The regular service train route runs approximately 1 hour to/from Dresser, Wisconsin, and two hours to/from Marine on St. Croix, Minnesota.

The Museum also operates the Dresser Depot at the northeast terminus of the line in Dresser,WI. The Depot has been preserved exactly as if the staff stepped out for a break, down to calendars and railroad notices. It is also the site of Pumpkin Train Park, hosting several thousand visitors during the pre-Halloween weekend.

Jackson Street Roundhouse[edit]

A rear view of the roundhouse, including some of the historic buses

The Jackson Street Roundhouse is MTM headquarters in St. Paul, as well as a fully functional railroad roundhouse, one of the last of its kind in the country. During winter months, the Roundhouse is a functioning work area for Museum rolling stock, often with the volunteer workforce welding, grinding and sending sparks flying. Visitors taking the escorted shop tours are often amazed at the work being performed, commenting to docents and staff that they have "... never seen anything like it."

Open Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday, year-round, it is where the museum's locomotives and rolling stock come for maintenance and restoration. It is highly interactive, offering train rides (Saturdays) as well as hands-on exhibits about surface transportation history of Minnesota and the upper Midwest.

The building was erected by the Great Northern Railway in 1907, replacing another older roundhouse. The site has been used for rail transportation since the first railroad came to Minnesota (1860's). The Roundhouse and surrounding grounds are a near complete display of American Industrial history from the 19th Century through the Mid-20th century.

The Roundhouse is home to equipment as varied as Pullman coaches, Northern Pacific RR mail & baggage cars, an operating 115' turntable, a 200 ton lifting crane, an F7A passenger engine (under long term restoration to operating status), a Brill Car (one of the last of its kind) and our fleet of classic buses.

The roundhouse is also home to the famous Northern Pacific Railway steam engine #2156, best known to many Twin Cities children from the 60's & 70 's as Casey Jones' steam engine, from the popular children's program. #2156 is currently undergoing stabilization to become part of a "Steam Bay" exhibit, demonstrating the inner workings of steam locomotives. It will be displayed next to its sister engine #2153, restored cosmetically to original operating configuration.

Rutledge Depot[edit]

The Rutledge Depot is also housed at the Jackson Street Roundhouse

References[edit]

  1. ^ Railinc, Search MARKs, accessed September 2009
  2. ^ "MASS TRANSIT Streetcars and Buses," St Louis Park Historical Society.

External links[edit]