DULUTH, Minn. – The Lake Superior Railroad Museum will dedicate its newest exhibit at a ceremony March 30. Independent Locomotive Service donated Soo Line SW1 No. 320 to the museum earlier this month. On March 30 the museum will host its traditional “Passing of the Reverser” event to formally transfer ownership of the locomotive to museum curators. Cocktails and snacks will begin at 5 p.m. with the ceremony beginning around 6 p.m.
No. 320 was built by Electro-Motive Corporation in September 1939, the same month the Soo received NW2 No. 300, followed a month later by NW2 No. 301. They were the first diesels on the “old” Soo Line, although subsidiary Wisconsin Central purchased its first three diesels in December 1938. The three were assigned to switching duties in the Minneapolis area. Eventually the unit was repainted in Soo Line’s light gray and red colors. It remained in service until November 1976, and was sold in 1977. For 30 years Great Lakes Coal & Dock used No. 320 to switch cars at their barge loading facility along the Mississippi River in St. Paul, Minn. It was purchased by Independent Locomotive, and in 2009 the company repainted the unit in its original 1939 black with white lettering.
Independent Locomotive Service owner and founder Frank Nesbit and his son Mike, who serves on the museum’s board of directors, arranged to donate the historic locomotive to the Lake Superior Railroad Museum.
Other Soo Line locomotives at the museum include 4-6-2 No. 2719, FP7 No. 2500A, and GP30 No. 700.