Rails & Trails Pages

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Soo Line Convention 2015

The 37th Annual Soo Line Historical Society and Technical Society Convention was held in Hudson on September 17-19, 2015.  Although Hudson is not located on Soo Line tracks, it is a location that was easy to reach for attendees and a place where excursions could be launched.

We had great Special Interest sessions including modelling clinics, Soo Line picture shows, and historical photos such as the history of the St. Croix River High Bridge.  Convention chairpersons Kent and Dawn Ohlfs always include a bus tour of area railroad highlights.  And this year's trip included THREE TRAIN RIDES!!  I'm betting no other historical society convention could match that.

Our first train ride would be on the Iron Horse Central Railroad at Chisago City, MN.  On the way, we stopped in New Richmond to see the depot, constructed in 1915 which means it is 100 years old this year.
The Iron Horse Central was started in 1966 by brothers Robert and Richard Thompson, ex-railroaders.  Robert died some years ago and Richard died about two years ago.  I have been at this museum several times and Richard gave me material for my last two books, including a great snow-plowing story.  Richard's son Eric has now taken over the museum.  They have collected lots of memorabilia and equipment, much of which needs restoring.  Here are shots of some of the equipment.
They even have the last wood bay window Milwaukee Road caboose.
They have steam engine #4, one of their first acquisitions.  This was at the Dresser Trap Rock facility and is steamed about twice a summer.
They have a depot which was brought in, which is filled with memorabilia.
And lots of railroad signs!!!
The brothers built about one mile of track to run their equipment on.  We all got 2 laps behind this small diesel.
Here is their website if you would like to see more pictures.

Our second train ride would be on the Osceola & St. Croix Valley Railroad in Osceola, WI.  I formerly "worked" on this tourist line so this wasn't a new ride for me but I got the opportunity to renew acquaintances with the train crew.

We had a delicious box lunch sandwich on the train.  This is part of our group.
We cross the St. Croix River.  This is looking down river.
And this is looking up river.
Our last train ride would be at the St. Croix Live Steamers Club expansive layout south of Hudson.
There are 3 separate railroad lines on about 10 acres of land.  They are a 7 1/2 inch gauge, a 4 3/4 inch gauge and a mixed gauge track with 4 3/4, 3 1/2, and 2 1/2 gauges.  Locomotives are powered by steam, diesel, gasoline, or batteries.  Here's some scenes from their impressive club.

Although I have been here several times, it's always fun to go back and see all the new stuff they've added.  A few years ago they added this impressive roundhouse and turntable.
Inside are a LOT of great engines, way to many to photograph.  Here's just one of them.
I was last here in 2011 with friend and club member Fred Hoeser.  He owns a Rock Island train which he runs here and I got to run it!  To see more pix of this club, click this link.

Next year's Soo Line Convention will be held in Duluth.  I hope we get a ride on the North Shore Scenic Railroad.  I hear that it is a real neat train ride to Two Harbors!!