Tag Archives: abandoned railwys

The Field Of Telegraph Poles

Photo by the author.


The grounds of a business park nestled at the interstate of Highway 55 and Mendota Heights Road in Mendota Heights, Minnesota, used to be bisected by the rails of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific’s “I&M” Division linking the Twin Cities with Austin, Minnesota, and points south into Iowa.   Originally built in the mid 1860’s by a predecessor road -the Minnesota Central- the route originally climbed out of the Minnesota River valley after crossing the Minnesota River below the battlements of Fort Snelling.   When that stretch of track and bridges were abandoned in the 1950s, Milwaukee Road trains continued to access the tracks on the south side via a connection off the Chicago and North Western-owned Chicago, St. Paul, and Omaha railroad (later absorbed entirely into CNW).   But in 1994, the rails were torn up from Cliff Junction up across the bridge spanning Interstate 494 on the Mendota Heights/Eagan border to an industrial park just off of 35E in Eagan, the decision of Milwaukee Road successor Soo Line, which originally kept sending traffic south to Austin after its 1985 purchase of and 1986 merger with the Milwaukee but then ceased operating them; local trains were the last to pass through on this stretch of the I&M.  From Cliff Junction to where the line once crossed Highway 13, the route is now occupied by the Big Rivers Regional Trail.   From Highway 13 to the business park in Eagan is unkempt (but mostly walkable) roadbed.

But when the track removal crews came something odd happened: a lot of railroad-related items were left behind ranging from ties with tie plates attached, ties left behind in the roadbed and a whole plethora of telegraph poles, most notably the bunch pictured above.   And that office park inherited the whole shebang … and decided to keep it all.   Why, I have no clue; but by leaving them standing the owners of that park created a scene best described as the field of telegraph poles.


Another view of the field of telegraph poles from looking up the former Milwaukee Road I & M from the south side of the former grade crossing on Mendota Heights Road. Photo by the author.


Another view of the field of telegraph poles, this time from looking north-northeast down the grassy, tree dotted grade bisecting the office complex’s front yard. Photo by the author.