New use for Wisconsin Soo Line depot

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A night shoot at the Superior depot with museum equipment in 2006 highlights the restored sign.
Steve Glischinski
SUPERIOR, Wis. – The former Soo Line passenger depot in Superior will soon be home to a brewery and restaurant. Thirsty Pagan Brewing plans to move from its current location in Superior to the depot, with opening scheduled for January 2019. Thirsty Pagan, founded in 2006, has built a reputation in the area for handcrafted beer and gourmet pizzas. The depot, at about 7,500 square feet, will allow the restaurant to have more private seating options for meetings, events, and parties than its current location a few blocks away. In 2017 the restaurant and brewery had $1.3 million in sales.

The depot was built in 1908 by the original Wisconsin Central, which the Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie (Soo Line) leased in 1909. The last passenger train to serve the depot was Soo Line’s Chicago-Twin Ports Laker, which made its last run on Jan. 15, 1965.

After the end of passenger service, the Soo used the depot as offices until 1989. Since then it has housed everything from a garden center and a computer business, to the Candy Caboose candy store and an art gallery. In 1993 the interior of the depot was used for some scenes in the Disney film Iron Will, which was filmed in and around the Twin Ports.

A large Soo Line “dollar” lighted neon logo is on the roof of the depot, but it does not belong to the restaurant. After the Soo closed the depot, the sign was donated to the Lake Superior Railroad Museum in Duluth, where it was placed in storage. A few years later, the then-owner of the building inquired if he could get it back. A deal was struck: the sign would be returned to the building on indefinite loan from the museum, provided the building owner restored and maintained it in operating condition, and would light it at the museum’s request. The new owner of the building is honoring that agreement and the sign will remain on the depot.
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