Milwaukee No. 261 pulls weekend trips

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Milwaukee Road No. 261 leads a fan trip west on the Twin Cities & Western at Augusta, Minn., on Sept. 8, 2018. It was one of two weekend trips for the locomotive.
Steve Glischinski

MINNEAPOLIS — Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261 pulled two round trips over the Twin Cities & Western Railroad Sept. 8-9. Perfect sunny weather greeted the excursions, which made a 100-mile round trip from Minneapolis to Glencoe on Saturday. Sunday’s trip, also scheduled to go to Glencoe, was turned at Bongards, Minn., because of a late departure and a meet with a freight train.

The trips were advertised as the “Gourmet Express” where passengers could partake of food, wine, and cocktails on board a moving train. At Bongards, Daou Winery provided wines and Bongards Creamery, whose production facility is adjacent to the tracks, offered tours of their plant and provided discount coupons for passengers to buy cheese in their retail store. Photo run-bys were also held at Bongards.

Any money earned from the trips will go to equip No. 261 with positive train control equipment.

The Twin Cities & Western main line was once the route of Milwaukee Road’s famed Olympian Hiawatha that traveled from Chicago and the Twin Cities to Seattle/Tacoma. The line has not seen regularly scheduled passenger train service since 1969. No. 261 operated over this trackage when it was in regular service for the Milwaukee Road between 1944 and 1954. The trips headed west from Minneapolis with No. 261 leading, but since there is nowhere to turn the steam locomotive TC&W GP38-2 No. 2015 pulled the train back east to Minneapolis.

Consist for the train was:

Milwaukee Road No. 261
Baggage tool car Earling
Coach Wenonah
Coach Lake Pepin
Baggage 2450
Baggage Golden Valley
Lounge Fox River Valley
Dome Silver Palace (making its first trip)
Lounge Wisconsin Valley
Super Dome 53
Business car Lamberts Point
Business car Milwaukee
Skytop Cedar Rapids
TC&W GP38-2 2015

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