Milwaukee Road No. 261 to lead steam trips to Duluth in June

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Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261
Steve Glischinski
MINNEAPOLIS — Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261 will steam again this spring, pulling a 300-mile round trip over BNSF Railway from Minneapolis to Duluth, Minn., on June 4 and 5. The Minneapolis-based nonprofit Friends of the 261 owns the locomotive. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of the agreement that resulted in the 261’s restoration.

The American Locomotive Co. completed the Northern-type locomotive in 1944, but it was only in regular service until 1954. The Milwaukee Road donated the locomotive to the National Railroad Museum of Green Bay, Wis., in 1956. In late 1991 the locomotive was leased from the museum; it made its first excursion trip in September 1993. The Friends of the 261 purchased the engine from the museum in 2010. No. 261 is the largest coal-burning steam locomotive in operation in the U.S.

The excursion will depart the Friends of the 261 shop in Minneapolis at 9 a.m. on June 4, traveling via BNSF Railway’s ex-Great Northern Hinckley and Lakes subdivisions to the Lake Superior Railroad Museum in Duluth for a 3 p.m. arrival. The line boasts several large steel trestles, including a tall bridge over the Kettle River at Sandstone, Minn.

After overnighting at the museum, the excursion will return to Minneapolis on June 5 over the same route, leaving Duluth at noon and arriving in Minneapolis at 5 p.m.

The excursion will include coach, first class, and premium class seating. Premium class includes seating in ex-Milwaukee Road Skytop observation car Cedar Rapids or Super Dome No. 53.

More information is available on the Friends' website.

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