The Duluth Depot viewed from the north
|Location||506 W. Michigan Avenue, Duluth, Minnesota, United States|
|Architect||Peabody and Stearns|
|Former Amtrak inter-city rail station|
The North Star at the Duluth Depot,
|Platforms||3 island platform|
1 side platform
Duluth Union Depot
|NRHP reference #||71001028|
|Added to NRHP||December 9, 1971|
The Duluth Depot is a historic train station in Duluth, Minnesota, United States. It was built as a union station in 1892, serving seven different rail lines at its peak. Rail service ceased in 1969 and the building was threatened with demolition until it reopened in 1973 as The Depot St. Louis County Heritage & Arts Center. The building houses three exhibiting museums (the Duluth Art Institute, Lake Superior Railroad Museum, and St. Louis County Historical Society Museum), four performing arts organizations (Arrowhead Chorale, Duluth Playhouse, Matinee Musicale, and Minnesota Ballet), and serves as the departure point for the North Shore Scenic Railroad. Train service also resumed from 1974 to 1985 by Amtrak.
The Depot is located at 506 West Michigan Avenue in the shadow of the elevated I-35, which runs immediately southeast of the depot. The station has one side platform and three island platforms that provide access to its seven tracks. The outer southeast active track is utilized by the North Shore Scenic Railroad, with the remainder being used by the Lake Superior Railroad Museum to display various trains and train cars.
The current depot was built on the site of the previous wood framed depot building (constructed in 1870) and was designed by architectural firm Peabody and Stearns. (The original depot building remained on site until it was disassembled after its replacement was complete.) Many local materials were used in the French Norman-style building, including granite, sandstone, and yellow brick. After two years of construction, the depot was completed in 1892 at a cost of $615,000. A large train shed originally covered the building's platforms, but it was removed in 1924 and replaced by the canopies that remain. Over the next 77 years it served seven different railroads (Duluth & Iron Range, Duluth, Missabe, & Iron Range, Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic, Duluth Missabe & Northern, Great Northern, Northern Pacific, Saint Paul & Duluth) before it closed in 1969.
Although the depot was scheduled for demolition following its closure, it was eventually saved. Although the depot was purchased from the railroad owner for the bargain price of a quarter of a million dollars and the edifice was in excellent condition, the cost of the necessary renovations to restore the Depot to its current condition cost another $4.7 million.
The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Duluth Union Depot in 1971 for its state-level significance in the themes of architecture and transportation. It was nominated as a unique example of the era's large railroad terminals and the connection they provided to the rest of the nation.
Former Amtrak service
While The Depot continued to house its other tenants, Amtrak provided rail service to the station for nearly a decade (1977–1985). In 1975 Amtrak initiated the Arrowhead to provide service from the Great Northern Depot in Minneapolis to Superior, Wisconsin (which is south of Duluth, just across the Saint Louis Bay of Lake Superior). By 1977 service by the Arrowhead was finally extended the 4 miles (6 km) north to this station (previously thruway connection bus service had been provided between the stations). In 1978 the North Star replaced the Arrowhead and extended the rail service south from Minneapolis–Saint Paul to Chicago, Illinois. The next stop for both Amtrak trains was in Superior, Wisconsin. In 1981 service by the North Star was truncated back to the Midway Station in Saint Paul. However, in 1985 Amtrak ended all passenger rail service to Duluth when the North Star was entirely discontinued.
North Shore Scenic Railroad
Scenic tours from the station continue to be provided by the North Shore Scenic Railroad (a heritage railroad operated by the Lake Superior Railroad Museum), which provides several different excursions from Duluth to points northeast along Lake Superior's northern shore. Regular tours are round-trip, ranging from one to six hours long, with destinations including the Lester River, the area of Palmers, and the city of Two Harbors. The railroad also provides a multitude of special excursions throughout the year, as well as opportunities for charter trips.
Proposed rail service
Renovations to the depot are in planning to serve the Northern Lights Express Higher-speed rail service from Minneapolis to Duluth. This 155-mile (249 km) project will roughly follow the route of Amtrak's former North Star and is expected to include stops in Coon Rapids, Isanti, Cambridge, and Hinckley in Minnesota and in Superior, Wisconsin.
- "Map of the Duluth Union Depot, as of 2014". www.duluthdepot.org. Retrieved 28 May 2014. (inset linked map)
- National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- "Depot History". The Depot St. Louis County Heritage & Arts Center. 2019. Retrieved 2019-04-07.
- "Organizations". The Depot St. Louis County Heritage & Arts Center. 2019. Retrieved 2019-04-07.
- Schandel, Kim. "Celebrating 122 Years in the Northland". www.duluthdepot.org. Retrieved 17 May 2014. (inset linked article)
- Buehler, Ken. "Reinventing the Duluth Depot". www.duluthdepot.org. Retrieved 22 May 2014. (inset linked article)
- "Duluth Union Depot". National Register of Historic Places Program. National Park Service. Retrieved 2019-04-07.
- Cavin, Brooks (1971-11-23). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory – Nomination Form: Duluth Union Depot". National Park Service. Retrieved 2019-04-07. With three accompanying photos
- Amtrak (15 May 1975). "All-American Schedules". timetables.org. The Museum of Railway Timetables. p. 43. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
- Amtrak (15 Feb 1977). "National Train Timetables". timetables.org. The Museum of Railway Timetables. p. 26. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
- Amtrak (30 Apr 1978). "National Train Timetables". timetables.org. The Museum of Railway Timetables. p. 37. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
- Amtrak (25 Oct 1981). "National Train Timetables". timetables.org. The Museum of Railway Timetables. p. 42. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
- "North Shore Scenic Railroad: Travel through time and experience the North Shore..." www.northshorescenicrailroad.org. North Shore Scenic Railroad. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
- "2014 Daily Excursions". www.northshorescenicrailroad.org. North Shore Scenic Railroad. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
- "2014 Special Excursions". www.northshorescenicrailroad.org. North Shore Scenic Railroad. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
- "Minnesota's Northern Lights high speed rail project receives $5m grant". www.globalrailnews.com. Rail Media. 9 Sep 2011. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
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