Tag Archives: steam engines

CP 2816/MILW 261 doubleheader!

CP 2816 leading MILW 261 through BNSF Union Yard at Minneapolis September 15th 2007
On September 15th, 2007, Canadian Pacific 4-6-4 2816 (back in the service of it’s old owner) and Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 261 (now operated by The Friends of the 261) doubleheaded on an excursion to Winona, MN, with a side trip to LaCrescent, MN. Here the dynamic steam duo is chugging through BNSF’s ex-GN Union Yard approaching the Highway 280 overpass. Photo by Tony Held.
CP 2816 and MILW 261 about to duck under U of M transitway St Paul Midway area September 15th 2007
Now the two locomotives are approaching the University of Minnesota transit way overpass east of Highway 280. The morning was cool and crisp; perfect for white plumes of coal smoke! Photo by Tony Held.
CP 2816 and MILW 261 whistling for grade crossing on track between old GN and NP mains St Paul Midway area September 15th 2007
To my great surprise, the doubleheader suddenly turned onto the “Union Cutoff” that connects the former Great Northern to the former Northern Pacific in BNSF’s Midway area trackage. Here they are approaching the Energy Park Blvd grade crossing on the Cutoff. Photo by Tony Held.
The MILW 261 behind the CP 2816 St Paul Midway area September 15th 2007
There’s the 261, chugging along behind the 2816 like the champ she is. Photo by Tony Held.
Going away view of Skytop observation car Cedar Rapids on tail end of 2816 261 doubleheader excursion St Paul Midway area September 15th 2007
The excursion heads on down the Cutoff with the Milwaukee Road Skytop obs “Cedar Rapids” bringing up the markers. Love the steam plumes in the distance! Photo by Tony Held.

Milwaukee Road 261: Volume one

MILW 261 at speed Long Lake June 15th 2008
In June of 2008 Milwaukee Road Class S-3 4-8-4 261 wheeled a couple BNSF Employee Appreciation specials through Long Lake, MN. This picture is one of my favorites of the bunch; here she is splitting the signals in Long Lake as her crew gives her plenty of steam for the run from Minneapolis Junction to Howard Lake and return. Photo taken by Tony Held on June 15th, 2008.
MILW 261 with BNSF empolyee appreciation train Long Lake June 15th 2008
A wider shot of the 261 splitting the signals. Photo taken by Tony Held on June 15th, 2008.

BNSF Dash 8 515 on hind end of BNSF employee appreciation special Long Lake June 15th 2008
A BNSF Dash-8 (515) was the unit tacked onto the hind end of the 2008 Employee Appreciation runs to Howard Lake. Photo taken by Tony Held on June 15th, 2008.
261 BNSF Employee Appreciation special meeting eastbound sand train Long Lake June 16th 2008
The first three pics were taken on a Sunday evening; I made sure to put in for the next day off from work so I could catch the following shots of the 261. Here the Employee Appreciation Special is easing past an eastbound freight that is making a run-around the westbound excursion via the siding that stretches from eastern Long Lake to western Wayzata on the BNSF Wayzata sub. Photo taken by Tony Held on June 16th, 2008.
Close up of MILW 261 Long Lake June 16th 2008
A close-up shot of the 261 with the westbound BNSF EAS. Photo taken by Tony Held on June 16th, 2008.
Green signal for 261 after see saw meet with sand train Long Lake June 16th 2008
With the eastbound in the clear, the east-facing main track signal at the Long Lake end of the siding glows a welcome green for 261’s crew. Photo taken by Tony Held on June 16th, 2008.
Santa Fe Super Dome Bay View Long Lake June 16th 2008
Here is a former Santa Fe Super Dome -the Bay View- which was included in the 2008 BNSF EAS trips from Minneapolis Junction to Howard Lake. Photo taken by Tony Held on June 16th, 2008.
261 BNSF Employee Appreciation special accelerating for Howard Lake Long Lake June 16th 2008
There goes the EAS special leaving Long Lake behind as Dash-8 515 brings up the rear. Photo taken by Tony Held on 6-16-2008.


Will The 328 Roll Again?

Northern Pacific Class S-10 4-6-0 328 rests inside the pole barn at the Minnesota Transportation Museum’s Jackson Street roundhouse sans headlight on Saturday, August 25th, 2012. Her tender was parked out back. Photo by the author.


Restored to operation by the Minnesota Transportation Museum between 1976-1981 after being on display in the city of Stillwater since around 1950 thanks to the intervention of MTM predecessor Minnesota Railfans Association, the little NP ten-wheeler has roamed everywhere from the St. Croix River valley to southern Minnesota and many more places.   Her last regular service was on the MTM’s Osceola & St. Croix Valley Railway from 1992 to 1999.   I first saw her in action there in 1998 during “Steamfest In The Valley” which saw two Soo Line steamers pay a visit: 2-8-2 1003 and 4-6-2 2719.   The grand finale: a steam triple header using all three engines!  (The year before 1003 had visited and doubleheaded with 328 too.)  Taken out of service for overhaul, the 328 has fallen into the ranks of many a steam locomotive waiting in limbo to return to steam.

Will the 328 roll again?   I’m afraid your guess is as good as mine.   Officially, the MTM says she is still under restoration; rumor mills have been rife that it will only be cosmetic due to costs, a crying shame if true.

It was still good to see her again, though.

Note: for more information about the NP 328, go here:     http://www.mtmuseum.org/jsr/roster/np328.php


UP Steam At Last!

The Union Pacific’s purchase of the Chicago and North Western in 1995 saddened me deeply, but I knew that cloud had a silver lining: the UP’s steam program!   Surely they would send either their 4-8-4 Northern number 844 or their 4-6-6-4 Challenger 3985 up to Minneapolis/St. Paul?   For years I waited with nothing happening on that front.   Then in 2002 the 3985 arrived in South Saint Paul … but I couldn’t make it.   Fast forward to 2008:  on the memorable date of September 26th, a remarkably sunny, warm (and breezy) Friday in the early fall, I caught Union Pacific’s 4-6-6-4 Challenger-class steam engine number 3985 as it passed through Rosemount, MN on its way to Saint Paul, MN.

UP 3985 passes railfans and railroaders gathered by the Progressive Rail depot in Rosemount, MN.  Photo by the author.


UP 3985 chugs north through Rosemount beckoned on by a green signal on the UP’s “Spine Line.” Photo by the author.


UP open platform obs Saint Louis brings up the markers on the UP steam train to Saint Paul passing through Rosemount, MN, on September 26th, 2008. Photo by the author.


At last I had caught a UP steam train running on track not only once run by the CNW, but the Rock Island/Milwaukee Road before that (this stretch of “Spine Line” was joint track for the RI/MILW from Rosemount to the junction at Comus, MN).

I’ve always wondered why the 3985 was emitting such a clean exhaust that day.   Had somebody mixed in a little diesel fuel oil with the steam fuel oil?  (Hey, a guy who worked for the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy once told me they did just that for some of their steam fan trips …)

The 261 On A Sunday Evening

Photo by the author.


Once upon a time on a Sunday evening in June, 2008, the uncompleted Highway 12 bypass in Long Lake lay devoid of cars beneath the warm sun as it waited to be tied off at both ends thanks to unstable soil at its western end that dictated a “land bridge” solution money was slow in coming for.

The BNSF had its new alignment of its Wayzata subdivision up and running long before now, though, and darn did the uncompleted bypass make a great place to railfan from, especially now, with North Star Rail’s Alco Class S-3 4-8-4 Milwaukee Road 261 approaching with the westbound BNSF Employee Appreciation Special to Howard Lake and return.

After a westbound freight passed, here she came, beautiful and dramatic as ever.  Out of the photos I took of her that evening, this one is my favorite.  I especially like how I got her smoke plume, one of the westbound signals, and  a bird flying right overhead, all captured in decent light.

Viva the Milwaukee Road 261!   I look forward to taking more such pictures of her when she returns to the rails from her overhaul.