Some of us like the MNS, Minneapolis Northfield and Southern.

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Why don't we talk about this Shortline, here, instead of my Curmudgeon thread.

I'm unsure how far North towards Minneapolis the MNS tracks used to run; but, now they end at 59th 1/2 street in South Minneapolis. From Minneapolis, they head straight South through Richfield and on into Bloomington, where I grew up. In Bloomington the tracks run straight North and South until the reach 92nd street where they make a long turn to the South West. Once the tracks cross I 35W there are several branches and spurs that service many manufacturing and other businesses needing rail service. In West Bloomington, the tracks more or less parallel Old Shakopee Road. Close to the edge of Western Bloomington there was a wye where the tracks headed down to the Minnesota river which makes up the southern boarder of Bloomington. This wye might have been a junction with another railroad and there was also a Yard on the West end of the wye where freight cars where stored. The MNS ran south to Savage Minnesota where it crossed the river. I will continue this discussion later, when I have time.


Always Improvising
I have learned via Milwaukee Road discussion on Facebook that the MN&S and Milwaukee had one or two interchange points around the Twin Cities. If you're into Minnesotan Milwaukee Road like me, you will need an MNS locomotive and cars in your life. :D

The railroad had an interesting selection of locomotives in the steam era, including two 2-10-0 Decapods, but their lineup of six Baldwin 'Dragons' is pretty outstanding. They even posessed a rare Baldwin RT-624.

Here are two of my MNS boxes in service on Hennepin Overland. I also have a Thrall door box that typically ends up at the sawmill. MNS posessed a variety of their own revenue cars including a few cabooses.
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Yes, as I remember the big center cab Baldwins had quite a roar when the ran and the MNS only used Bay Window cabooses all in their MN&S standard blue and silver livery.

The MNS yard I have described in West Bloomington had 5-6 tracks and all the tracks appear to still be there, now, although not in use. However the southbound part of the wye is missing. The line I have described above going into south Minneapolis was actually a branch for the line and the part heading north from the yard was MNS's main line which ran north all the way to Crystal, MN, a distance of about 17 miles. Then ran south to Northfield Minnesota a distance as the crow flies of about 25 miles. Engine servicing facilities where built in Glenwood, MN and connected to the mainline by a spur at Golden Valley, MN.

The southern terminus at Northfield connected with the Rock Island, Chicago Great Western and the Milwaukee Road and northern end connected with the Soo Line. The Minneapolis Northfield and Southern was a bridge line providing passage through the Twin Cities without the need for spending time and money in the yards of the larger local railroads.

Just North of Savage, MN there is a swing bridge, that today it's normal position is with the bridge open, allowing river traffic to navigate the Minnesota river without the bridge stopping river traffic. This bridge used to be closed all the time and opened for river traffic. The bridge also had a single lane auto/Truck passage with stop lights controlling north and south auto traffic. In Google Earth, the photo from 2003 shows the bridge being closed, all the rest, going back to 1991 show the bridge being opened. Progressive Rail which now operates the line, appears to only operate that portion of the MNS that is in Bloomington/Richfield, with Canadian Pacific running that trackage leading up to Crystal and down to Northfield. Whether the C.P. can close the bridge is a question I can't answer.

The MNS started converting the line to diesels in 1940 and was a proponent of Baldwin products. If you look up the Minneapolis Northfield and Southern on Google you will find history and photos of the lines equipment.

It doesn't appear that there is a Historical Society; or, Association devoted to the Minneapolis Northfield and Southern Railroad.
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Thanks for the interesting series of posts regarding the MNS, Mark & Steve. From my vantage point here in North Central Texas, I had no exposure to the line except for seeing an MNS boxcar in a Santa Fe mixed freight occasionally while train watching. in the late 70's. I only have a single MNS boxcar in my fleet today.
MNS 49751.JPG

It appears to be close to accurate. Haven't yet weathered it because I haven't found any weathered pictures to use.


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I have a 40 foot Steel Box Car in MNS livery. It is an Accurail product. It is weathered with chalks and washes to a general dirtiness as I don't need a photograph to put generic weatherness on a freight car.


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My father owned a Tool & Die and Metal Stamping company located at 8301 Pillsbury Ave. So. Across Pillsbury Ave. was an open lot and on the other side of the lot where the tracks for the MN&S. My house was about 3/4ths of a mile form his shop. So the MN&S was my home railroad and I spent plenty of time walking the tracks. I also had a good friend who lived next door to me in the early 60s and moved to West Bloomington in the mid 60s and we would spend time walking the tracks out there in West Bloomington and even down to the Swing Bridge I mentioned. Traffic was pretty light on the MN&S, maybe a train once a day at the location of my father shop. My sister also lived in Savage MN for quite a few years and I followed the tracks in Savage, also. So, this is why I have posted this thread here is that I have some familiarity with the Minneapolis Northfield and Southern


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An interesting look back at how things have changed over the years; is, if you look at where the MN&S crossed Interstate 494 in Bloomington, MN, even if you take the Time Scale back to 1991, as far back as it will go, this still looks way different than I remember it. What I remember on the south and East side of the MN&S 494 bridge was a cement manufacturing company in this location. It had a large elevator that was a prominent feature all during the times I lived in the Twin Cities and was traffic producer for the MN&S. Most of the area to the right (East) of the tracks between 494 and what is now called American Boulevard (80th Street) was undeveloped excepting an electrical substation and in the 1991 photo shows buildings covering the whole area. Then, if you push the time slider all the way to the present, you can see that all of this block has been flattened and one large building put up since 1991. This area along 494 is now called "The Strip" and the land is at a premium as far as real-estate prices go! History is an interesting thing to see!


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Google Minneapolis Northfield and Southern, there are websites at that location with a bunch of MN&S equipment to look at.


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So, with these large Center Cab Baldwin diesels, who can tell me about their configuration? Where there diesel engines in both ends? I can see that they would work well in either direction. I know that they had 6 wheel trucks so they must have pulled and pushed well. The MN&S also used the Russian Decapod, 2-10-0 that Bachmann has been offering for a long time!

Iron Horseman

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So, with these large Center Cab Baldwin diesels, who can tell me about their configuration? Where there diesel engines in both ends?
Official designation from Baldwin is DT6-6-2000. DT standing for Diesel Transfer. They were developed from specification from the EJ&E railroad. As you determined they had two 1625 brake horse power, post war, supercharged 608SC De La Vergne diesel engines, one in each hood.

The EJ&E unit was delivered in 1946, but the production units came out in December 1948. The MNS's were some of the first production units delivered in 1948 and 1949. One of the MNS's units is the only surviving example in the Illinois Railway Museum.

Interestingly there is much written about the prime mover but almost nothing recorded about the electrical system. Westinghouse most likely, as it has the offset 3rd axle truck.
I live just a few miles from the former MNS tracks in the south metro. The track down here is currently part of Progressive Rail's Jesse James subdivision, running from Northfield to the southern tip of Burnsville. I know the line is active around the Airlake industrial park, with occasional switching moves, however I think the portion northwest of Lakeville is mostly used for car storage. The line from Burnsville to Savage is out of service.

Regarding the swing bridge in Savage (it's called the "Dan Patch Line Bridge")-- although CP owns the track on both sides, the bridge itself is actually owned by the Twin Cities & Western RR. The TCWR bought it some years ago to protect what it thought might be a useful freight corridor for the future (they also have trackage rights on the CP thru there). Supposedly there has not been regular service over the bridge since the 1990s, but just a couple years ago TCWR announced they were going to refurb the bridge and start moving grain over it, on the expectation of higher barge shipping demand down the river. As of 2018, I still don't believe the bridge has been reactivated yet. Port Cargill and other industries in Savage are currently served by the UP on their Mankato sub.

The wye you mention in Bloomington-- the MNS also owned the track heading northeast out of there, that spur runs to Richfield. This line is still active, now served by Progressive Rail. The railroad bridge over I-494 near Lyndale Avenue is part of that line, and you can occasionally see hoppers parked on it from the highway.

Just last week I was driving around Airlake and spotted a bay window caboose in MNS colors parked in the industrial park. I wanted to get a picture, but unfortunately it was tucked away in an area I couldn't get to without trespassing.

Here's a picture of one of Progressive Rail's SW1500s, which I took in 2011 near their depot in Rosemount. This locomotive started life as Great Northern #209 in 1967.




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I have read that Progressive Rails home is Airlake and wonder if the tracks from the south side of Burnsville and through Savage is out of service, how does the railroad get up to Bloomington and North of there to service businesses on this Northern end of the line? Also note that Progressive Rails color scheme is the exact same color scheme as the Minneapolis Northfield and Southern's. I see on the front end of the walkway on your SW1500 photo that Progressive Rails states it is a partner of Canadian National.
Progressive Rail, Inc. (PGR) actually has four separate branches in Minnesota, none of which are connected:

-Jesse James line, from Northfield to Lakeville
-Eagandale branch, Rosemount to Eagandale
-Faribault line, short spur in that city
-Dan Patch Line, Nesbitt to Minneapolis

Of those, the Jesse James line and Dan Patch line are former MNS. I think the Eagandale branch is former Milwaukee Road.

I'm not an expert (so take this with a grain of salt), but my understanding is that Progressive Rail primarily provides switching connections from their Class 1 partners at the end of each branch (primarily CP, possibly UP in Rosemount), to the industries on that line. Thus, if a customer at Airlake has cars coming off the CP at Northfield, PGR will pick them up, take them to Airlake, and spot them as needed. The same applies at the other 3 branches.

In essence, each branch operates "independently." PGR picks up cars at the interchange, takes them to customers, and vice versa. I would imagine there isn't really much need to cross from one branch to the other. The exception would probably be when equipment or a locomotive needs to be moved to another line for maintenance, etc. In that case, I'd imagine they have trackage rights to get across the system.

But you're right, without the swing bridge at Savage or the line thru Burnsville, it looks like quite an endeavor to get something from the Dan Patch line down to Lakeville. Looking at my Minnesota railroad guide (from Sonrisa Publications), you would have to go up the CP MN&S spur to St. Louis Park, on some combination of CP/TCWR/BNSF/UP through both Minneapolis and St. Paul, then down the UP Albert Lea sub to Northfield, then up PGR to Lakeville. A big loop around the cities.


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Obviously Skyliner, you know far more about the MN&S; or, at least it's latest iteration, Progressive Rail, than I do! It's great to have someone come by and fill in some blank spaces!

If we go a little deeper into the Minneapolis Northfield and Southern's history, its' nick-name was "The Dan Patch Line". (Dan Patch was the name of a Trotter Horse which a fellow named Marion W. Savage purchased for $62,000.00 in 1902. This was a fortune at that time). Mr. Savage purchased the former Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester and Dubuque Electric Traction Company. Changed the name to the Minneapolis Northfield and Southern (The Dan Patch Line) and was incorporated in 1918. The MN&S was acquired by the Soo Line in 1982 and operated as a separate railroad until merged into the Soo on January 1st, 1986. Interestingly the MN&S railroad started at 54th and Nicollet Ave. at the Richfield/Minneapolis boarder. This was about 3 1/2 miles from where I grew up and became the end of the line of the branch line spoken about earlier.
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Glad to help. Again, I'm not an expert, I do a little amateur railroad photography on the side, and I've researched some of the rail lines I've lived near over the years. My "home railroad," where I grew up, would be the Northwestern Pacific in northern CA.

Here's a map of the MNS, courtesy of the St. Louis Park Historical Society, to help with your story. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to