Minnesota Transportation Museums

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Minnesota Streetcar Museum (Excelsior) Cars 78 and 1239 at the barn. Photo by Peter Ehrlich, August 2004.

Minnesota Streetcar Museum

The Minnesota Streetcar Museum, which was part of the Minnesota Transportation Museum until the end of 2004, is located in Minneapolis and the suburb of Excelsior. Thus, there are two separate operations. Its mission is to operate and restore streetcars that operated throughout the state of Minnesota.

The Como-Harriet line is a remnant of the last streetcar route in the Twin Cities. Streetcar service ended on June 19, 1954, and this scenic section, serving Lake Harriet, was reopened by the Minnesota Transportation Museum in 1971. Passengers board at the Linden Hills station/gift shop at 42nd and Queen Streets, adjacent to Lake Harriet. The entire line was rerailed in 2005. The line is registered in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Excelsior line runs over a half-mile portion of the old Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad between Water Street in Excelsior to Excelsior Blvd, within walking distance to the restored Lake Minnetonka steamboat Minnehaha, which was restored in 1996. This line opened in 1999. Passengers board at both ends of the route, as well as the carbarn.

Standard Twin Cities car 1300, TCRT PCC 322and Duluth 265 operate on the Como-Harriet, while Twin Cities gate car 1239 and Duluth 78 serve Excelsior.

The Active Fleet

Duluth Street Railway 78, built in 1893, is the oldest operating streetcar in the United States. It was constructed by the Laclede Car Company of St. Louis, and ran in Duluth until 1911. In 1971, the carbody was discovered and restoration took place over a span of 20 years, entering service on Como-Harriet in 1991. In 1999, it was moved to Excelsior to open that line.

Twin City Rapid Transit 1239 was built by TCRT at the old 31st Street shops in 1907 as a gate car. It was converted to folding door configuration in 1935, and ran that way up to its 1953 retirement. Restoration began in 1987, and it entered service in Excelsior on Sept. 11, 2004.

Twin City Rapid Transit 1300 was built in 1908 by TCRT's legendary Snelling Shops in St. Paul. It was one of the last streetcars in service at the June 19, 1954 system abandonment, and was donated to the Minnesota Railfans' Association, a predecessor of the Museum. It became the Museum's first operational streetcar, and opened service on Como-Harriet in 1971.

Duluth Street Railway 265 was constructed in the Snelling shops in 1915, originally for TCRT, but was sold to Duluth a year later, operating until system closure in 1939. The carbody was discovered in Wisconsin in 1971, and restoration began at the Northern Pacific's Como Shops and was completed at the Como-Harriet line carbarn. 265 entered service in 1982.

Twin City Rapid Transit 322 was one of 40 PCCs built by St. Louis Car Co. in 1946/47 for TCRT. With the system winding down, 322 was one of 30 PCCs sold to Public Service Co-ordinated Transport of New Jersey for use on the Newark City Subway and renumbered car 3. Later, the car was sold to Cleveland's GCRTA, keeping the same number. The Minnesota Transportation Museum, MSM's immediate predecessor, purchased the car in 1990. #322 was restored at a Metro Transit shop facility from 1992 to 2000, and it is now in service on Como-Harriet.

Cars Under Restoration

Mesaba Electric Railway Interurban 10 was built by Niles in 1912 for this Iron Range interurban. Service lasted until 1927. Currently Mesaba 10 is in storage at the Excelsior barn awaiting restoration.

Winona 10 was built for the Wisconsin Railway, Light and Power Co. for Winona, MN by St. Louis Car Co. in 1913. It is a single-truck steel, pre-Birney car, and ran until the end of service in 1938. The carbody was discovered in 1999 and purchased by the Museum. Restoration has begun at the Excelsior Carbarn, and when completed, #10 will enter service on Como-Harriet.

Fargo & Moorhead Street Railway 28 is a typical Birney Safety car, built by American Car Co. in 1923. It ran in both Fargo, ND and Moorhead, MN. The system shut down in stages in 1937, with Moorhead local lines going first. It is currently on the property of a Museum member in Mankato, MN, but restoration has not yet been scheduled.

Operations and Fares

Como-Harriet: From mid-April to mid-November, service is on weekends only. Between mid-May to early September, cars also operate on weeknights. Fare, $2.00; day pass, $5.00.

Excelsior: From mid-May to mid-September, cars operate on Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Thursday operations continue through the end of October to serve the Excelsior Farmers Market. Fare, $1.50; daily pass, $4.00.

Photo Gallery

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Ironworld Discovery Center, Chisholm, MN

Ironworld Discovery Center, located in the town of Chisholm in the Mesaba (or Mesabi, Missabe) Iron Range region of northern Minnesota, opened in 1985. It is an interpretative museum depicting iron mining and reclamation operations in northern Minnesota from the late 1800s to the present. To move visitors around the center, two ex-Melbourne, Australia W2 trams built circa 1930 are used. Trams run counter-clockwise from the main entrance building around a balloon loop, stopping at Mesaba, site of the carbarn, and Glen, where most of the interpretative exhibits and recreations are located. A portion of the line is on the right-of-way of the Mesaba Electric Railroad, an interurban which ran from Hibbing and Chisholm to Gilbert and Virginia, MN through 1927. Part of the line passes the scenic Glen Mine Reclamation area, showing how abandoned mines are reclaimed for recreational purposes.

The Center is open from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend every year. The two trams are 601 and 606, same numbers as in Melbourne.

Photo Gallery

Five Random Images

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Official Site - Minnesota Streetcar Museum

Official Site - Ironworld Discovery Center

Page Credits

By Peter Ehrlich.

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