Your “tour” begins with a spectacular reproduction of the St. Anthony Falls Milling District complete with the 1874 “Washburn ‘A’ Mill,” the 1880 Milsaukee “Short line Bridge,” and the 1883 James J. Hill “Stone Arch Bridge” a familiar icon of the Great Northern Railway.
Weaving its way across the Mississippi River, via the “Third Avenue Bridge,” is our beautiful electric streecar line. It is modeled after the 1891 – 1954 Twin City Rapid Transit Company’s street-car system which was powered by the Mississippi River’s hydroelectric dams. In the foreground you can see one of those dams – the 1898 “Lower St. Anthony Falls Hydroelectric Plant.” (The first “central” hydroelectric plant in the U.S. was built at these Falls in 1882.
As you continue on your tour, you will move alongside the Mississippi River as it flows beneath the high river bluffs of southeastern Minnesota. As you leave the river behind, yoiu will come to Mattlin – our quintessential rural Minnesota town. Mattlin is named after one of our early members and is particularly soulful during our famous Night Trains show when its streets and buildings are dimly lit with its own soft lighting.
The next stop on your tour is our recreation of the 1913 “Great Northern Station” – one of six passenger depots which once operated simultaneously in downtown Minneapolis. At its peak, 125 trains used this depot each day! It was located where the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Building is today – at the edge of the Mississippi River on the west side Hennepin Avenue. It was demolished in 1978.
The final stop on your tour is our freight yard, modeled after the Minnesota Transfer Railways switching yard located in the “Midway” area between Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Formed in 1883, it was a true “non-profit” enterprise equally owned and operated by the nine “mainline” railroads that once plied the rails in Minnesota: Chicago, Burlington & Quincy; Chicago Great Western; Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Northwestern; Great Northern; Minneapolis & St. Louis; Northern Pacific; Rock Island; and SOO Line.