A Chicago Hub Railroad of the 1930's - 1940's
The Minneapolis St.Paul & Sault Ste Marie Railroad
Soo Line
Wisconsin Central Railway


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The Soo Line Railroad (SOO), formerly the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railway is now the United States arm of the Canadian Pacific Railway, serving Chicago and the areas to the east and west. (It's "Soo" name derived from the phonetic pronunciation of Sault), the present name was adopted as a trade name in 1950. In late 1960 the company was consolidated with several subsidiaries and reorganized under the current name.(wik) In the 30's and 40's the Soo operated a passenger train, the Soo-Dominion, that offered Pullman car service to Winnipeg and the Canadian Northwest, connecting with the Canadian Pacific at Portal, North Dakota. It also offered service to Duluth, Minnesota, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Ashland, Northern Michigan. While a few branch lines remained open to passenger service, most offered only freight service. The primary traffic on the Soo was grain and coal. Its passenger trains operated out of the Grand Central Terminal in Chicago, using the B&OCT terminal trackage to reach it from Forest Paark.(rp)
In 1985 the Soo Line purchased the Milwaukee Road and attempted to operate the pre-1985 Soo Line and selected Milwaukee Road branch lines as a wholly owned subsidiary, the Lake States Transportation Division. Because of lackluster traffic levels and the need to pay off debt resulting from the purchase of the Milwaukee Road, most of the LSTD (including the original Wisconsin Central Railway) was sold in 1987 to the newly formed Wisconsin Central Transportation Corporation.

Soo Line
Soo Line
December 9, 1945

The Soo Line is a part of the Canadian Pacific Railway system. As time passes, more and more Soo Line equipment is being repainted into the Canadian Pacific's current paint scheme, slowly erasing the Soo's identity as a subsidiary railroad (wik).
History of the Minneapolis St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad (Soo Line)

1860-1870 - Grain production spurs initial railroad growth Minnesota to Chicago
1873 - Railroad from Twin Cities to Sault Ste. Marie suggested to avoid Chicago
1883 - Aberdeen Bismarck and North Western Ry organized
1883 - Minneapolis Sault Ste. Marie and Atlantic Railway incorporated to build from Twin Cities to SSM. Financed largely by Minnesota grain interests to avoid Chicago and high rates
1883-1884 - Surveying completed
1884 - Partial construction completed Cameron west to Turtle Lake for interchange with CStPM&O (the Omaha Road)
1883-1884 - Minneapolis & St. Croix Railway to construct Twin Cities to Turtle Lake
1884 - Minneapolis and Pacific Railway incorporated to build westward into wheat fields of Minnesota and North Dakota
1885-1886 - M&SC and M&P construct partial lines east and west
1887 - M&SC reaches Turtle Lake
1887 - MSSM&A constructs docks, roundhouse, station and machine shop at Gladstone, Michigan
1887 - Sault Ste. Marie reached
1887 - International bridge jointly constructed by MSSM&A, DSS&A and CP completed
1887 - CP connects to MSSM&A at Sault Ste. Marie
1888 - The first train, in five sections, departed from Minneapolis with 102 cars loaded with flour destined for Boston, New York, Philadelphia, London, England and Glasgow, Scotland.
x 1888 - The Canadian Pacific Railway acquires control of the Minneapolis, Sault Ste. Marie and Atlantic Railway, consolidating it with the Minneapolis and Pacific Railway, Minneapolis and St. Croix Railway and Aberdeen, Bismarck and North Western Railway to form the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railway.
1891-1893 - Western road extended to Portal for second (Soo) connection to CP and the Pacific Northwest
1900 - MSP&SSM purchased the Rice Lake, Dallas & Menomonie.
1902-1903 - Bismarck and Winnipeg, Canada reached. The 3rd Soo connection to the CP
1904 - MSP&SSM purchased the Bismarck, Washburn & Great Falls.
1904 - Construction north of Glenwood, MN provides yet another connection to Canada at Noyes, MN.
1908 - The Soo Line acquires a majority interest in the Wisconsin Central Railway
1909 - MSP&SSM leased the Wisconsin Central Ry., adding approximately 1,000 miles of track lying between Chicago-Twin Cities-Duluth-Ashland and through the Fox River country of Wisconsin. Even though all Wisconsin Central equipment would carry the "Soo Line" reporting marks and insignia, it would remain for all practical purposes a separate railroad. The accounting system, revenues, and expenses were all kept separate from that of the Soo.
1913 - The western extremity of the Soo, to Whitetail, Montana, is completed
1915 - The Soo purchased the Fairmount & Veblen to reach into northern South Dakota.
1915 - The Soo purchased the Minnesota Northwestern Electric Ry.
1921 - The Soo purchased the Wisconsin & Northern to connect Neenah, Wisconsin with Argonne.
1937 - Petition in bankruptcy filed due to effects of drought and depression in the early '30's reducing the Soo Line cash reserves and earning power.
1938 - First Diesel Locomotive purchased for the road.
1942 - The road emerged from jurisdiction of the courts.
1944 - A new corporation is established after reorganization - the Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Railroad Company
1950 - Corporate name dropped except for legal matters, and the trade name "Soo Line Railroad" was adopted. The initials MStP&SSMRR, in small type, were used under the Trade Mark.
1955 - First railroad west of Chicago to be completely dieselized, however a traffic surge brought back some steam in 1955.
1960-1961 - The Soo Line Railroad is formed through a merger of the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railway, Wisconsin Central Railway and Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic Railway.
1982 - The Soo Line buys the Minneapolis, Northfield and Southern Railway (MNS)
1985 - The Soo Line Railroad obtains a controlling interest in the Chicago Milwaukee St. Paul and Pacific railroad and renames it Milwaukee Road, Inc.
1986 - The Milwaukee Road is merged into the Soo Line Railroad.
1987 - The Soo Line Railroad announces the sale of its Lake States Transportation Division to private investors, forming the new Wisconsin Central Transportation Corporation.
1992 - The Canadian Pacific Railway, which had owned a controlling interest in the Soo Line Railroad for many years, finishes buying up all remaining stock.

History of the Original Wisconsin Central Railway

1871 - Wisconsin Central was the only land grant railroad in the state of Wisconsin. Began operations in 1871
1877 - Tracks reach Ashland, Wisconsin
1884 - Tracks reach St. Paul, Minnesota
1886 - Tracks reach Chicago
1889-1893 - Leased by Northern Pacific
1893 - Northern Pacific bankruptcy terminates lease of WC
1908 - Tracks reach Superior, Wisconsin
1908 - Proposed merger with NP falls through
1908 - The Soo Line acquires a majority interest in the Wisconsin Central Railway
1908-1909 - WC is leased by MSP&SSM (Soo) Controlling interest in Soo and WC held by CP.
1961 - WC merged into Soo Line

Soo Line map east
Soo Line map 1947, (pre Milwaukee Road)


Soo Line
Map of the Soo Line Railroad. Red lines are former Soo trackage operated by CP Rail; dark blue lines are former Milwaukee Road trackage now operated by CP Rail; green lines are former Soo trackage spun off to the Wisconsin Central Railway and now part of Canadian National. Dotted light blue lines are abandoned.


Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guide- April 1940 Brief History of the Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Railroad - The 'Soo Line'", by Jim Lydon (Parts of timeline).
Diesel Victory-Kalmbach Publishing Co.
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Web Page Written and Maintained by Richard Parks
Copyright Richard Parks, April 29, 2009, revised Oct. 21, 2011