North Shore Conversations: Riding the Rails

Ride the Rails with the North Shore Scenic Railroad

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Ready to take a ride back in time? Trains have played an important role in Minnesota’s history, hauling tons of raw material, people, and ideas all across the country.

One of the most unique lines is the North Shore Scenic Rail Road, which runs along Lake Superior from Duluth to Two Harbors. Once a vital connection to the Iron Range, this historic line is now operated by the Lake Superior Railroad Museum, which offers train rides from May through October.

The North Shore Scenic Railroad features great views of Lake Superior

Most passengers will board the train in Duluth, where you can also visit the award-winning train museum. Those further North have a lesser-known option. An interesting piece of history has been preserved at the flag stop at Larsmont. It’s a small wooden shelter alongside the tracks. Flag stops were once common in rural areas, providing a place where people could simply wave down a passing train, and hop aboard.

The Larsmont Flagstop

Flag stop tickets can be purchased at the front desk at Larsmont Cottages. From there it’s a 20 minute ride into Two Harbors with two hours to explore. Within walking distance, you’ll find great restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques, a brewery, and a pebble beach. There is also a free shuttle, which will take you anywhere in town you’d like to go.

The Historic Train Depot at Two Harbors

The train rides are unique, with vintage passenger cars, meticulously restored by a crew of volunteers. Museum Director Ken Buehler says passengers can choose their era and their comfort level. Maybe you want to ride in an open boxcar with the wind in your face. Or perhaps you prefer the luxury of the glass dome car. You can even ride in a rustic caboose. Most of the options have vintage décor still true to its historical roots (with the welcome addition of air conditioning).

If you want to take a step back even further in time, (116 years!) it may soon be possible to ride the #332 steam-powered locomotive. This amazing machine has been offline for two years, but the museum is working on the final certification, and they expect it to carry passengers by late summer or early fall. Check for updates here: https://duluthtrains.com/steam/

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