Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad

The Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad (reporting mark SOO) was a Class I railroad subsidiary of the Canadian Pacific Railway in the Midwestern United States. Commonly known since its opening in 1884 as the Soo Line[1] after the phonetic spelling of Sault, it was merged with several other major CP subsidiaries on January 1, 1961, to form the Soo Line Railroad.

Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad
Soo Line logo.jpg
Reporting markSOO
LocaleNorth Dakota to Chicago
Dates of operation1883–1961
SuccessorSoo Line Railroad
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
HeadquartersMinneapolis, Minnesota

In 1970, it reported 8249 million net ton-miles of revenue freight (and no passengers) on 4693 route-miles and 6104 track-miles operated at the end of the year.

Passenger serviceEdit

A postcard ad for the railroad's service between Minneapolis/St. Paul and Duluth/Superior circa 1910.
A well-used Soo Line hopper car, built in 1916. Hauling iron ore was an important part of the Soo Line's business.

The Soo Line was never a major carrier of passenger traffic since its route between Chicago and Minneapolis was much longer than the competing Milwaukee Road, Chicago and North Western, and Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad companies. The Soo Line also had no direct access to Milwaukee.

The primary trains operated by the Soo Line were:

Additionally, local trains served Chicago to Minneapolis–St. Paul, Duluth–Superior to Minneapolis–St. Paul, Duluth to Thief River Falls, Minnesota, and some summer-only services which relieved The Mountaineer of the local work along its route.


The Presidents of the Soo Line were:[4]


The Soo Line Building in Minneapolis served as company headquarters.
  • September 29, 1883: A consortium of flour mill owners in Minneapolis form the Minneapolis, Sault Ste. Marie and Atlantic Railway to build a railroad between its two namesake cities to avoid sending shipments through Chicago.[5][6][7]
  • February 23, 1884: The presidents of the Minneapolis, Sault Ste. Marie and Atlantic and the Northern Pacific Railway sign an agreement allowing the MSSM&A to use in perpetuity NP track and facilities in Minneapolis and granting an entry to St. Paul Union Depot.[8] NP's board of directors approved the agreement on March 6.[9]
  • March 1884: The first construction contracts are awarded for grading 60 miles of line starting from a point near Turtle Lake.[10] President Washburn receives authorization from the board of directors to place orders for rolling stock.[11]
  • November 7, 1884: The ceremonial first train departed Minneapolis to tour from there to Bruce, Wisconsin, the extent of the line that had been constructed so far.[12] On its opening for regular service on November 15,[1] the line measured 46 miles (74 km).[13]
  • June 11, 1888: The Canadian Pacific Railway acquires control of the Minneapolis, Sault Ste. Marie and Atlantic Railway, consolidating it with the Minneapolis and Pacific Railway, Minneapolis and St. Croix Railway, and Aberdeen, Bismarck and North Western Railway to form the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railway.
  • 1904: The Soo Line acquires the Bismarck, Washburn and Great Falls Railway.[14]
  • 1908: The Soo Line acquires a majority interest in the Wisconsin Central Railway, and obtains a 99-year lease of the property in 1909.
  • 1910: The Soo line acquires the Cuyuna Iron Range Railway.
  • 1913: The Soo Line acquires the Minnesota Northwestern Electric Railway and the Fairmount and Veblen Railway.
  • 1921: The Soo Line acquires the Wisconsin and Northern Railroad.
  • 1932: The Wisconsin Central Railway enters receivership.
  • December 31, 1937: The Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railway files for bankruptcy.
  • 1944: The Wisconsin Central Railway enters bankruptcy.
  • September 1, 1944: The Soo Line reorganization takes effect, emerging as the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad.
  • 1953: The Valley City Street and Interuban Railway is sold to the Soo Line.
  • 1954: The Wisconsin Central emerges from its bankruptcy as the Wisconsin Central Railroad.
  • January 1, 1961: The Soo Line Railroad is formed through a merger of the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad, Wisconsin Central Railroad, and Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic Railroad.



Soo Line 1003, a 2-8-2, in Slinger, Wisconsin on November 2, 2019.

A number of the railroad's rolling stock has been preserved in museums across the United States, some in operational condition. This list includes some of the more notable equipment.

Steam locomotivesEdit



  1. ^ a b "Opening of the "Soo"". Eau Claire News. Eau Claire, WI. November 15, 1884. p. 4 – via Newspapers.com.  
  2. ^ a b Abbey 1984, p. 99.
  3. ^ a b Abbey 1984, p. 97.
  4. ^ Gjevre 1990, pp. 203–207.
  5. ^ "Commendation and Wet Blankets". Star Tribune. Minneapolis, MN. August 19, 1883. p. 4 – via Newspapers.com.  
  6. ^ "A New Railroad in Northern Wisconsin". Chicago Tribune. August 17, 1883. p. 6 – via Newspapers.com.  
  7. ^ "New Railway Enterprises". Chicago Tribune. October 2, 1883. p. 3 – via Newspapers.com.  
  8. ^ "The Northern Pacific's Eastern Extension". Chicago Tribune. February 24, 1884. p. 6 – via Newspapers.com.  
  9. ^ "Minnesota News". The Northern Pacific Farmer. Wadena, MN. March 6, 1884. p. 2 – via Newspapers.com.  
  10. ^ "(untitled)". Eau Claire Leader. March 5, 1884. p. 4 – via Newspapers.com.  
  11. ^ "The Sault Ste. Marie Road". Chicago Tribune. March 11, 1884. p. 7 – via Newspapers.com.  
  12. ^ "A Minneapolis Road - The First Trip Over the Minneapolis and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad". Star Tribune. Minneapolis, MN. November 8, 1884. p. 4 – via Newspapers.com.  
  13. ^ "Railway Intelligence - Sault Ste Marie". The Gazette. Montreal, Canada. November 13, 1884. p. 1 – via Newspapers.com.  
  14. ^ Gjevre 1990, p. 19.
  15. ^ Gilchinski, Steve (February 1997). pp. 24–25


  • Abbey, Wallace W (1984). The Little Jewel. Pueblo, Colorado: Pinon Productions. ISBN 0-930855-00-0. LCCN 84014873.
  • Dorin, Patrick C (1979). The Soo Line. Burbank, California: Superior Publishing Company. ISBN 0-87564-712-X. LCCN 79012204.
  • Gilchinski, Steve (February 1997). "Soo Line 2-8-2 back in steam". Trains magazine. 57 (2): 24–25.
  • Gjevre, John A. (1990) [1973]. Saga of the Soo, west from Shoreham (second ed.). Morehead, Minnesota: Gjevre Books. OCLC 23244801.

External linksEdit