Trains, Trains and More Trains
Maybe your kid has a thing for Thomas the Tank Engine. Perhaps you’ve been stuck at the crossing too many times and you’ve developed a strange inkling to see a train close up. Maybe you just have nothing better to do on a sunny afternoon and your looking for something interesting to see. Well gather round for Trains, Trains, and More Trains all found in the 320.
Engine 2523 at Kandiyohi County Historical Society
This is a great place to start the trip as this locomotive is a rare find. This is a P-2 class Steam Engine with Tender. It was built in 1923 and put to use on the Great Northern Railway. It ran from St Paul to the Pacific ocean. In 1955 it was retired to the side yards in Willmar where it was saved and then rescued in 1965. It’s a good thing too as only 28 of its kind were ever built. There are plenty of details and history of the engine available on location, we could offer a little more, but that would be a spoiler alert!
The 2523 is just over 100 feet long and is set onto tracks just outside the Kandiyohi County Historical Society. You’re able to walk up stairs and look into the engine compartment, though you can’t go inside.
Where: 610 Hwy 71 NE Service Rd, Willmar, MN 56201
Phone: 320 235-1881
Montevideo’s Milwaukee Road Heritage Center
Just off state street right next to the tracks, in the aptly named Railroad Park, you’ll find the Milwaukee Road Heritage Center. Started in 1992, this place is a treasure trove of train history. From model railroads to reconstructions of the real thing. You’ll see a coal tender, multiple structures, a passenger car and water tower. In Mid June there’s typically a vendor festival.
Where: 301 State Rd, Montevideo, MN
Phone: (320) 269-2105
Benson’s Burlington Northern Caboose
There was a time when every passing train had a caboose. It was necessary. Prior to air brakes the engineer would signal the brakeman and they would stop a train from both front and back. Burlington Northern quit using the caboose in 1991.
A quick stop in Benson allows you a close up look at a Burlington Northern Caboose. You’re not allowed inside but it does offer a closer look at a piece of history.
Note that there are no facilities at this location, but as the caboose is right downtown there are stores, restaurants and gas stations nearby.
Where: Near 14th and Atlantic, Benson MN
No phone or online presence
The Starbuck Depot houses a 1902 Soo Line caboose. The caboose held the conductors office, the brake man and flagman. The raised section in the middle is called a cupola and has seats so that the trainmen could watch out for fires or other problems as the train was moving. This historic site is part of the national registry of historic places and gives you the best close up view of a caboose that we have seen thus far. While the caboose can be locked, there was an opportunity to look inside to see how these men lived as they worked. The caboose was their home away from home with beds, a wood stove, desk area and the cupola.
While the caboose can be locked, there was an opportunity to look inside to see how these men lived as they worked. The caboose was their home away from home with beds, a wood stove, desk area and the cupola.
The Railway Station was in use for over 100 years from 1882 until 1983. In 1986 it was acquired preserved by the Starbuck Depot Society. The building now hosts several events during the year and is home to the Leftsa Hall of Fame. The Starbuck School Museum is nearby on the same grounds.
There are modern facilities available, though they are locked and drained during winter months. There is also a bike repair station near the corner of the facility for those who are traveling the trails.
Where: Depot Lane, Starbuck MN