Duluth & Northeastern No. 28 makes first test runs

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Duluth & Northeastern 2-8-0 No. 28 steams out of the Lake Superior Railroad Museum's yard on April 22.
Steve Glischinski
A young railfan checks out Duluth & Northeastern No. 28 as it steams by on April 22.
Steve Glischinski
DULUTH, Minn. — For the first time since 2013, the sounds of a steam locomotive echoed off the hills of Duluth as restored Duluth & Northeastern 2-8-0 No. 28 made its first test runs April 22 and 23. The Consolidation was restored by the Lake Superior Railroad Museum under the leadership of Robert Purcell, who began restoration work on No. 28 in December 2011 when he was general manager of D&NE successor Cloquet Terminal Railroad.

American Locomotive Co.’s Pittsburgh Works built the engine in 1906 for the Duluth, Missabe & Northern as No. 332. It was operated by DM&N successor Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railway until 1955, when it was sold to short line Duluth & Northeastern based in Cloquet, Minn. The locomotive remained in service on D&NE until 1964. It last operated in September 1972, when the railroad used it inside the shop in Cloquet to dry sand, then ran it around the Cloquet yard. It was donated to the museum in 1974.

No. 28 was fired up on the morning of April 22 and that afternoon ran light to Lakeside siding in Duluth’s East End on the North Shore Scenic Railroad’s ex-DM&IR line. It was the first time a DM&IR steam locomotive had traveled the line since the early 1960s.

April 22 saw sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s, but April 23 dawned with snow showers and highs in the 30s. Steam expert Ken Ristow, who has been a part of Soo Line 2-8-2 No. 1003’s crew for several years, assisted in making several adjustments to the engine. After that work was completed, No. 28 was coupled to the museum’s DM&IR SD18 No. 193, whose dynamic braking was used to simulate a train under load. No. 28 then made two round trips between downtown Duluth and Lakeside, barking loudly as it traveled along the Lake Superior waterfront, attracting attention from residents who hadn’t seen a steam train on the line since Soo Line 4-6-2 No. 2719 made its last runs in September 2013.

Testing will continue this spring before No. 28 makes its public debut June 10 and 11, heading up special trains for those who donated to the engine’s restoration. The first public trips are scheduled for June 23-24 when No. 28 will pull round trips to Two Harbors, Minn. Other public trips are scheduled on weekends in July, August, and September.

More information is available online.

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