Duluth Depot

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Duluth Depot
Duluth Depot Logo.png
Duluth Depot.jpg
The Duluth Depot viewed from the north
Location506 W. Michigan Street, Duluth, Minnesota, United States
Coordinates46°46′53″N 92°6′14″W / 46.78139°N 92.10389°W / 46.78139; -92.10389Coordinates: 46°46′53″N 92°6′14″W / 46.78139°N 92.10389°W / 46.78139; -92.10389
TypeRailway museum
ArchitectPeabody and Stearns
Duluth, MN
Former Amtrak inter-city rail station
Northstar 1981 sep20 duluth.jpg
The North Star at the Duluth Depot,
September 1981
Platforms3 island platform
1 side platform[1]
Former services
Preceding station BSicon LOGO Amtrak2.svg Amtrak Following station
Terminus Arrowhead Superior
North Star Superior
Preceding station Great Northern Railway Following station
toward St. Paul
St. Paul – Duluth Terminus
Superior Grand Forks – Duluth
Preceding station Northern Pacific Railway Following station
Superior Minneapolis – Duluth Terminus
West Duluth Minneapolis – Duluth
toward Staples
Staples – Duluth
Terminus Duluth – Ashland Superior
toward Ashland
Duluth Union Depot
Architectural styleChâteauesque
NRHP reference No.71001028[2]
Added to NRHPDecember 9, 1971
Duluth, MN is located in Minnesota
Duluth, MN
Duluth, MN
Location in Minnesota
Duluth, MN is located in the United States
Duluth, MN
Duluth, MN
Location in United States

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.[3] The building houses three exhibiting museums (the Duluth Art Institute, Lake Superior Railroad Museum, and St. Louis County Historical Society Museum), three performing arts organizations (Arrowhead Chorale, Duluth Playhouse, and Minnesota Ballet), and serves as the departure point for the North Shore Scenic Railroad.[4] Train service also resumed from 1974 to 1985 by Amtrak.[3]


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.[1]


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, and the Saint Paul & Duluth) before it closed in 1969.[3]

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.[3]

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.[5] 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.[6]

Former Amtrak service[edit]

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[7] (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[8] (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.[9] 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.[10] However, in 1985 Amtrak ended all passenger rail service to Duluth when the North Star was entirely discontinued.

North Shore Scenic Railroad[edit]

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 variety of special excursions throughout the year, as well as opportunities for charter trips.[11]

Proposed rail service[edit]

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.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Map of the Duluth Union Depot, as of 2014". www.duluthdepot.org. Retrieved May 28, 2014. (inset linked map)
  2. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d "Depot History". The Depot St. Louis County Heritage & Arts Center. 2019. Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  4. ^ "Organizations". The Depot St. Louis County Heritage & Arts Center. 2019. Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  5. ^ "Duluth Union Depot". National Register of Historic Places Program. National Park Service. Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  6. ^ Cavin, Brooks (November 23, 1971). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory – Nomination Form: Duluth Union Depot". National Park Service. Retrieved April 7, 2019. Cite journal requires |journal= (help) With three accompanying photos
  7. ^ Amtrak (May 15, 1975). "All-American Schedules". The Museum of Railway Timetables. p. 43. Retrieved May 17, 2014.
  8. ^ Amtrak (February 15, 1977). "National Train Timetables". The Museum of Railway Timetables. p. 26. Retrieved May 17, 2014.
  9. ^ Amtrak (April 30, 1978). "National Train Timetables". The Museum of Railway Timetables. p. 37. Retrieved May 17, 2014.
  10. ^ Amtrak (October 25, 1981). "National Train Timetables". The Museum of Railway Timetables. p. 42. Retrieved May 17, 2014.
  11. ^ "North Shore Scenic Railroad". North Shore Scenic Railroad. 2019. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  12. ^ "Minnesota's Northern Lights high speed rail project receives $5m grant". Global Rail News. September 9, 2011. Retrieved May 17, 2014.

External links[edit]