Rails & Trails Pages

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Gateway - Bruce Vento Bike Trip

In 2011, I found out about a bike trail in Northeast St. Paul that is on an old railroad grade.  Called the Gateway Trail, I vowed to ride in in 2012.  Well, it almost didn't happen, but I lined up the ride with friends Joe Lewis and Rod Peters.  I emailed some biking friends in the Cities and they recommended we ride the trail south (it goes DOWNHILL in that direction) but when we got where it crossed  the Bruce Vento Trail, we should take that trail into downtown as it would be more scenic.  OK--we would go on Wednesday, September 26th.

It was a GREAT day for riding--temperatures in the 50's, sunny, and NO WIND!  Rod Peters (center), Joe Lewis (right) and yours truly are ready to go!!

For a large portion of the trail, a horseback riding trail parallels our blacktop path.  (2 Horsepower on the left).

We pass many small ponds and lakes.

It looks like Joe was here before, but he says he wasn't!!

We pass under several different highways.

I don't know when the railroad was removed from here but I remember seeing the rail here paralleling Highway 36--and no trains.  I wondered which railroad ran on there and where it went???  Now I know--it is the old Soo Line passenger track from Wisconsin into the Twin Cities.  A convenient bridge is built over Century Avenue.

We pass North St. Paul High School, home of the Polars.

And, a high school gym class is using the trail for exercise.

We come to the Bruce Vento Trail, crossing the Gateway at a right angle.  This picture is taken from the Vento Trail, looking north (we will be riding south).  We came from the right and if we would have continued to the left, we would have ended up near the Capital.  Whereas the Gateway Trail was Soo Line trackage, this part of the Vento Trail was Northern Pacific trackage and was the 'Skally Line.'

The tracks crossed at grade with a diamond and there was a tower here for train protection.  A neat sign had pictures and explained the location.

Here's a shot of a Milwaukee Road train on the Skally Line crossing the Soo Line tracks, courtesy of George Forero.

 We headed south and passed through the backyards of several homes and apartments.  We skirted Lake Phalen.

Things were going good and we were enjoying the ride, UNTIL we came upon this sign.

We had no idea where to go.  We looked at our map, Rod bought a candy bar, we looked at the map, we rode some sidewalks, we looked at the map, and we had no idea where to go.  So we headed south and of course, we were well away from the Vento Trail.  BUT--this was BETTER!!!  We ended up at Indian Burial Mounds Park.

This park is located high on a bluff, overlooking the Mississippi River.  We had seen many pictures taken from this location but none of us had ever been here.  Check out the view!!!  First is the Pig's Eye Yard, former Milwaukee Road trackage, then Soo Line, and now Canadian Pacific.  On the near tracks, BNSF trains also travel between the Twin Cities and Chicago.

Adjacent to this yard is the Union Pacific yard.

More great shots.

We rode this path down the bluff where we could ride right next to the tracks.  These tracks are very busy with many railroads sharing the tracks.  Soon a Canadian Pacific train arrives.

Check out this great video that Rod took of a Union Pacific train coming uphill.  (Coming Soon)

But--we missed the lower part of the Vento Trail and Swede Hollow--which everyone said we had to see.  So, we pedaled north--uphill--on the Vento Trail.  This section was Milwaukee Road trackage.

One of the major industries served by the Milwaukee Road was the Hamm's Brewery, now a derelict set of buildings.

We pass under Union Pacific trackage.  This is the former Omaha/CNW track from Altoona to the Twin Cities, and there is another train stopped right on the trestle.  Picture time.

We go just a little further and then circle back and see that it is a frac sand train arriving from Wisconsin.

We had a meeting set up for Jackson Street Roundhouse and MTM (Minnesota Transportation Museum) so we grab a quick bite at Wendy's and go to Jackson Street.  There's way too many neat exhibits to take pix of but a hit of the show is 'Hustle Muscle.'

This Soo Line caboose is used for their Saturday caboose hop train rides.

Equipment at MTM is turned on this turntable.

MTM has 3 steam engines.  Although none are functional now, hopefully 328 will be again some day!!

A FUN DAY!!!  Biking, trains, friends, food, coffee--who could ask for more???

No comments:

Post a Comment