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Soo Line Station: 1910

Soo Line Station: 1910

Duluth, Minnesota. "Up the incline from Superior Street." Competing for our attention with the Duluth Incline Railway is the trainyard fronted by Soo Line Station, and that 325-foot tower on the horizon. Built in 1910 by the Radio Wireless Telegraph Company, it blew over in a gale the following year. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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So inclined

The only funicular I've ever been on is the Duquesne Incline in Pittsburgh. I hate heights but I love inclines even though riding them is moderately scary. I think what draws me to them despite my nerves is their iconic status, the engineering, the history, the view from the top, and the photographic opportunities afforded. My favorite episodes of Bosch were those that involved the Angels Flight Railway in Los Angeles. I'd like to ride that one but I'm afraid of flying (hello? heights) and it's too far for me to drive, at least today.

I looked it up and learned that while the Duquesne Incline is 800 feet long and 400 feet in height, and is inclined at a 30-degree angle, Duluth's Incline Railway climbed 509 feet in slightly more than half a mile and the grade ranged from 15 to 25 percent. That is interesting to me because the Duluth incline appears in this picture to be longer than my memory of the Duquesne Incline. But I can clearly see the less steep grade of the Duluth railway as compared to the Duquesne. At any rate I would have very much enjoyed riding it, camera in hand and jitters suppressed.

Downhill, both ways

This photo did everything by halves: the car is half-way on its journey (OK I'm starting with a bit of poetic license), the incline has only half as many cars remaining as it started with -- a brief and unintended conversion into a fireball in 1901 explains the reduction -- and is about halfway thru its existence (1891-1939), and whatever perch the shot was taken from (a silo? a balloon?) seems halfway to Heaven. But it is thoroughly enjoyable.

[And (what I hope is) a helpful hint to 'bigguy1960': be not surprised: railroad technology moves s-l-o-o-o-w-w-l-y]

Old Timers

I'm surprised to see that they were still rolling old-fashioned wood sided open-platform cars at that time. Perhaps for local service?

Unofficial yard monitor

If I'm ever reported missing... well, I'm just sayin'. Don't spend too much time searching.

Icing on the streets

Duluth, MN: all the charm of streets with San-Francisco steepness, but coated with winter ice.

Radio tower in 1910?

Curious what the tower was? Did they have radio or wireless telegraphs?

[Radio, which got its start in the 1890s, includes wireless telegraphy, radiophone, commercial broadcasting, etc. Ship-to-shore communication was among its earliest applications. - Dave]

Soo = Sault

The Soo line was formally the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie (pronounced Soo Saint Marie) Railroad.

Sault Ste. Marie is at the other end of Lake Superior from Duluth, and it's where the freighters use locks to drop 21 feet down to the level of Lakes Michigan and Huron.

We visited the Soo a few years before for a celebration: Shorpy - Sault Ste. Marie: 1905

See the Trains and Ride the Trains Here!

The same view today:

The Incline Railway may be gone, but The Bethel is still visible to the left of the apartment block, here's a closeup:

and the Townview Villas and the four houses to the left of it with the big stone wall are also still there:

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