Railfanning the Missabe

The CN is a very different company than the DM&IR which was quite kind and acommodating to railfans. Don't even THINK of violating their trespassing restrictions by going where you don't belong.

Clicking on a location will bring up a Yahoo MapQuest map. These images are pulled from the Yahoo site, and are not interactive.


A Missabe yard built to accommodate the operations of a steel mill and other heavy industry, now long gone. Usually an all-rail train or two sitting there, mainly during winter. CN, NS, CSX or BNSF power. MAP

Duluth Docks:

The former viewing stand and area at Dock #6 are not accessible when an ore boat is at the dock (TSA regulations). Just up the hill from the docks, at 40th Avenue West, you can catch trains moving up (loud) or down (smoky) the hill. From Skyline Parkway, high above the docks, you can get a bird's eye view of the operations. MAP

Spirit Mountain:

The seven-mile run down the hillside from Proctor to the Duluth docks on a 2.2 percent grade loosely parallels Interstate 35. At the Boundary Avenue exit, the service roads south of the freeway allow good viewing of trains beginning or ending the long descent. At the Highway 2 exit, you can climb the hillside and watch trains running alongside the freeway. MAP


This major Missabe yard can be viewed at the south end from the Second Street grade crossing. Many of the original backshop buildings still stand, and now house the Engineering department and vehicle maintenance shops. Exit Highway 2 at East Railroad Avenue, and you can follow the yard to the north end. The diesel shop and roundhouse are viewable from the road (do not cross tracks). Return to Highway 2 and exit left at St. Louis River Road, and a bridge takes you over the Missabe tracks, with a great view of the North End of Proctor Yard. MAP.


One of the few remaining Missabe depots is here, once the interchange with the Duluth and Northeastern. Highway 7 begins to parallel the Missabe mainline here, and can be followed to Keenan. MAP


Once nothing more than a junction, Keenan is home to the Missabe's north end operations, with a yard and dispatcher's office. This yard has "No Trespassing" signs and they are enforced. MAP

Iron Junction:

A junction point just north of Keenan that used to be the location of the dispatcher's office. It still has a signal maintainer's office. Tracks split for Wolf and Biwabik. A wye exists to allow loaded Minntac trains to head off to Two Harbors. Can be viewed from public property. MAP


Another junction point just north of Iron Junction, where the line once did a 3-way split for Hibbing, Mountain Iron and Virginia. The line to Hibbing has been removed, but Minntac and Minorca trains traverse this junction. MAP


Just a bit east of Iron Junction is the DMIR's crossing with the former Duluth, Winnipeg & Pacific line. The parade of Canadian National trains can keep one entertained while waiting for Missabe trains. Can be viewed from public property. MAP


Once a major north end yard for the Iron Range division, now only a few tracks exist. The old roundhouse is used by the signal track departments. Trains in and out of Two Harbors pass through. MAP


Site of the Iron Range division weigh-in-motion scale. The loaded trains slow way down, and there's a beautiful lake to serve as a background for photography. Can be viewed from public property. MAP


The Missabe has two lines out of Two Harbors, one original grade, and a later improved-grade alignment. Waldo is the place where the two lines come together, and allows some grade-crossing filming and photography. MAP

Two Harbors:

The waterfront area is a park donated by the Missabe, and includes the Two Harbors depot museum, two historic locomotives on display, the Missabe's tug Edna G., and a panorama view of the dock operations. The North Shore Scenic Railroad serves the depot. A walk out onto the breakwater gives an end-view of the docks. MAP 










The Lake Superior Railroad Museum has revised the Twin Ports Railfan   Guide. The guide is 16 pages and has maps that will prove most helpful in finding locations, including the former DM&IR hot spot at Iron Junction. Radio frequencies and a general recap of train movements is also included. The cost is $12.95 plus $1 shipping (MN residents add 6.5% sales tax, Duluth 7.5%). All proceeds go towards preserving the railroad history of the area.

Checks can be mailed to:
Lake Superior Railroad Museum
Railfan Guide
506 W. Michigan Street
Duluth, MN 5580