Soo Line Passenger Trains in Upper Michigan

1419 views
13 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    June, 2012
  • 180 posts
Soo Line Passenger Trains in Upper Michigan
Posted by Fr.Al on Monday, February 25, 2019 12:39 PM

I just got the Spring issue of CT. In John Gruber's article, we read how Soo Line's no. 7 and 8 ran until March 5, 1960, when they were replaced by mixed trains. I believe the one mixed lasted until the mid 80' s , although by then it was reduced to passengers riding in the caboose.

      I'm wondering about the interim period, did conventional mixed trains with a combine or coach/ baggage car operate? Also, were these two passenger trains, the "UP'S" last passenger trains? C&NW used to run passenger trains from Chicago through Wisconsin up to the Upper Peninsula. Did these outlast the Soo's passenger trains?

  • Member since
    May, 2012
  • 3,747 posts
Posted by rcdrye on Monday, February 25, 2019 2:33 PM

The UP "mixed" trains did not, to the best of my knowledge, operate with a combine.  The Portal ND trains 13 and 14 did, at least for a year or two.

The UP's last passenger trains were the CMStP&P/DSS&A "Copper Country Limiteds" to Houghton and Calumet, of course Soo Line trains north of Champion after the merger.  They lasted until March 1968, running through with Milwaukee power, including E-units.  The trains' main source of revenue was mail, so when the mail contract was lost in late 1967, the train lost most of its reason for existence.  The Sleeper lasted to the end, three days a week in each direction.  Earlier MILW and Soo had handled a Chicago-Sault Ste Marie car via Pembine WI.  Not only was this the last passenger train in the UP, it was the last non-caboose scheduled passenger train on the Soo.

  • Member since
    May, 2003
  • From: US
  • 16,813 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Monday, February 25, 2019 7:34 PM

rcdrye
The UP "mixed" trains did not, to the best of my knowledge, operate with a combine.  The Portal ND trains 13 and 14 did, at least for a year or two.

The UP's last passenger trains were the CMStP&P/DSS&A "Copper Country Limiteds" to Houghton and Calumet, of course Soo Line trains north of Champion after the merger.  They lasted until March 1968, running through with Milwaukee power, including E-units.  The trains' main source of revenue was mail, so when the mail contract was lost in late 1967, the train lost most of its reason for existence.  The Sleeper lasted to the end, three days a week in each direction.  Earlier MILW and Soo had handled a Chicago-Sault Ste Marie car via Pembine WI.  Not only was this the last passenger train in the UP, it was the last non-caboose scheduled passenger train on the Soo.

The mention of UP I suspect referrs to UPers, not Uncle Pete.

  • Member since
    February, 2007
  • 141 posts
Posted by 3rd rail on Tuesday, February 26, 2019 1:07 AM

When I was a kid, about 12 years old, My parents took me on a trip "Up-North". to do the Algoma Central Canyon train. We stopped at a campground about 15 miles south of the "Soo', place called Rudyard. Across the street was a auto junkyard next to the SOO tracks. Of course I went right away to the tracks, but, I soon became entranced with the 1940's-1960's rust-free automobiles in that scrap yard.I never saw a train go by, but I did develop a love for classic cars that day. I'd bet that most of those cars are long since crushed by now, I particularly recall a 1959 Chevy, Sitting there, broken windows, but otherwise pretty sweet. Anyway, after an afternoon of junkyard exploration, I went back to camp, and the next day we went to the SOO to take the Algoma Central... I think that was the best breakfast ever on that dining car..   I wish I had been old enough to buy one of those old cars, and bring it home though..    I read those Auto-Trader magazines once in a while, I see those 1959-1960 Chevys going for $30.000 in "Restorable condition".    Oh Well....... 

As an aside, I am enthralled by the 1965 Pontiac Bonneville, But I'll take any Classic '60's car!   These cars today all look the same.... Blob of plastic!, Can't tell the difference between a Buick, and a Kia!  Of course, we wouldn't need the air-bags, etc, if people would just put away the damned Cell phones! Worse than drunk drivers if you ask me! 

Anyway, I enjoy the vintage photos of trains, but, sometimes, I also catch a glimpse of some neat classic cars in those photos. So, kind of a "Two-Fer-One".

I wonder whatever happened to Emery Goulash's Olds Vista-Cruiser? 

 

Todd Cline. 

  • Member since
    June, 2012
  • 180 posts
Posted by Fr.Al on Tuesday, February 26, 2019 7:14 AM

I suspect passenger trains hung on for so long precisely because the "UP" was behind the rest of the country. I'm not sure that's true anymore. My first trip up there was in Sept, 1995. As I recall, my son and I stopped somewhere on M-28 in Eastern UP. The store was a combined gas station, general store, pool hall, and barbershop. 

      Subsequent trips, and I noticed that US 41 has been widened west of Marquette. Incidently, did Marquette have any passenger service after the DSS&A pulled it's RDC heading east to St. Ignace in Jan 1958?

  • Member since
    July, 2016
  • 576 posts
Posted by Backshop on Tuesday, February 26, 2019 7:28 AM

Fr.Al

I suspect passenger trains hung on for so long precisely because the "UP" was behind the rest of the country. I'm not sure that's true anymore. My first trip up there was in Sept, 1995. As I recall, my son and I stopped somewhere on M-28 in Eastern UP. The store was a combined gas station, general store, pool hall, and barbershop. 

      Subsequent trips, and I noticed that US 41 has been widened west of Marquette. Incidently, did Marquette have any passenger service after the DSS&A pulled it's RDC heading east to St. Ignace in Jan 1958?

 

US-41 was just widened to a little west of Ishpeming.  I believe the stretch of country between I-75 at the Soo and I-35 at Dultuth is the largest area with no limited access highways in the eastern U.S.  My BP goes down around 10 points everytime I cross the Big Mac into the UP.  My friends and I have a saying--the northern lower peninsula is woods, the UP is wilderness--Moose, bear, wolves, etc.

  • Member since
    May, 2012
  • 3,747 posts
Posted by rcdrye on Tuesday, February 26, 2019 12:15 PM

Fr.Al
Incidently, did Marquette have any passenger service after the DSS&A pulled it's RDC heading east to St. Ignace in Jan 1958?

That was the last of it.  DSS&A stopped handling baggage, express and mail by rail "...will be handled by truck" when the pre-Shoreliner trains were dropped.  The exception to this was the Copper Country Limited, which handled mail and checked baggage, but was essentially a Milwaukee Road train.

The article on Soo 7 and 8 mentions an RPO picked up at Pembine.  I didn't think the pre-1958 through sleeper from Chicago to Sault Ste Marie was worth switching out, but adding a mail car would be enough for it to make sense.  The  Chicago-SSM sleeper was operated by Pullman, making it a rarity on both the Soo and the Milwaukee, both of which operated their own sleepers on many runs.

  • Member since
    September, 2011
  • 4,260 posts
Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, February 27, 2019 8:35 PM

According to Wiki, C&NW ran the Peninsular 400 to Ishpeming until July 1969.  I believe it because I was in Marquette at that time on a geology field course, and I remember hearing about it on their local TV news.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peninsula_400

 

  • Member since
    March, 2016
  • From: Burbank IL (near Clearing)
  • 11,457 posts
Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Thursday, February 28, 2019 10:10 AM

The bi-level "Peninsula 400" was the basis of my first intercity train trip in 1964 or 1965, although we only rode to Marinette.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
  • Member since
    June, 2012
  • 180 posts
Posted by Fr.Al on Friday, March 01, 2019 7:23 AM

That run was covered in a recent CT special issue. Nice to read all the U.P.(and Vermont) memories here!

  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Mpls/St.Paul
  • 11,203 posts
Posted by wjstix on Monday, March 04, 2019 12:59 PM

Just an aside, I seem to recall the Soo 'mixed trains' in Wisconsin where you could buy a ticket to ride in the caboose, lasted into the late 1970's. I think it had something to do with Wisconsin laws - state land grants that had been given to the Soo or their predescesor railroads that required that they provide passenger service on the lines.

Stix
  • Member since
    May, 2012
  • 3,747 posts
Posted by rcdrye on Monday, March 04, 2019 1:53 PM

Passenger carrying on the "mixed" trains was finally discontinued not long before the sale of the lines where they operated to Wisconsin Central Ltd.  in 1987.  My hazy memory says it was a condition of the sale.  Since the passenger limit per trip was one, it was probably more trouble to go through a train-off petition than getting rid of the "mixed" operation was worth.

  • Member since
    June, 2012
  • 180 posts
Posted by Fr.Al on Monday, March 04, 2019 2:58 PM

On the subject of mixed trains, does anyone recall the mixed trains depicted in a mid 60' s edition of Trains? I believe the mixed was then running in Wisconsin. It might have been the Soo, it might have been the Milwaukee. What I remember is that two Weimeraner dogs appeared in the picture. DPM or whoever the author/ photographer was, got rebuked in a letter to the editor later on. Something he said about that breed of dog.

      Going back to the 60' s, does anyone remember the Philip Morris commercial, with the train pulling into what appeared to be a small town station? It might have been a mixed or just a passenger train; the man in the commercial lit up his Philip Morris, just as he was exiting the train, as I recall. This was the 60's, after all, pre Amtrak, and tobacco was socially much more acceptable than today. 

  • Member since
    June, 2012
  • 180 posts
Posted by Fr.Al on Sunday, August 25, 2019 8:26 PM

I just acquired Brian Solomon's "North American Locomotives." Page 170 shows a Ski F7 leading a mixed train in Manistique, Michigan on June 1, 1961. So sometime after the passenger train was discontinued in 1960, a mixed had replaced it. One can't see a combine in the photo, so I can't tell if passenger service was limited to the caboose. I'm inclined to think at that point in time, there might have been a combine. 

SUBSCRIBER & MEMBER LOGIN

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

FREE NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

Get the Classic Trains twice-monthly newsletter