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Thread: The Soo Line (Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie) & Wisconsin Central Lease

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    Default The Soo Line (Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie) & Wisconsin Central Lease

    Didn't see a thread for my beloved Soo Line, so here one is.

    Let's start with some speculation. The Soo's purchase of the Milwaukee Road... was it a good thing or a bad thing for them? Your thoughts...

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    There is still a couple old Soo engines here is New Ulm by the Hanska Co Op Elevator. They were "repainted" to remove the Soo, but still retain the worn red/white colors.
    I assume they ended up here when the CP took control of the road.

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    goosetown-roller-mill.jpg

    Other than that idk much about the Soo line.

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    I believe they where bought buy the elevator owners when the I&M was purchase by the DME/ICE group.

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    I&M 124 was SOO 557, EMD GP9 II, built sometime before May, 1956. Originally in the Maroon/Gold Pine Tree paint scheme.

    I&M 123 was SOO 4251, EMD GP9 I, built sometime before January, 1955. Probably also originally Maroon/Gold Pine Tree. I don't think any Geeps were in black and yellow, only some Alcos, Baldwins and FM's.

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    We've got SOO 711 at work, it's MJRX 711 now after being passed around some.

    If you haven't, read Life and Times of a Railroad Engineer by Bud Hoekstra. He worked at SOO when they got the Milwaukee. Sounds like the SOO guys wished Grand Trunk had gotten Milwaukee, and the Milwaukee guys wish they had too...

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    I never quite understood the purchase of MILW. The Soo got that nice trackage from Milwaukee to Minneapolis in the deal, but that was the *only* prize and half of the double track had already been ripped up by MILW. Other than that, they got a lot of run-down duplicate routes and a bunch of junky old diesels and cars. It was kind of like winning an overpriced Goodwill auction. I also don't get why they ditched so much of what became the 2nd Wisconsin Central, there was a lot of business from Milwaukee to Green Bay, and from the Fox Valley west, even from the northwoods to the mills in the Valley.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kalbert View Post
    We've got SOO 711 at work, it's MJRX 711 now after being passed around some.

    If you haven't, read Life and Times of a Railroad Engineer by Bud Hoekstra. He worked at SOO when they got the Milwaukee. Sounds like the SOO guys wished Grand Trunk had gotten Milwaukee, and the Milwaukee guys wish they had too...
    Nice... GP30 riding on old Soo Alco FA trucks. Passed around...sort of. Never really left home rails until she ended up at your work... got handed off to the Wisconsin Central when the Soo pulled out of NE Wisconsin in the late 80's, then ended up with CP when they bought WC. I remember the WC GP30's like this one in the Green Bay WC yard before they were repainted. One of them sputtered and spit constantly.

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    I posted these in your layout thread but I figured I'd repost them

    Soo CP.jpg #4598

    soo too.jpg #4416

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    Quote Originally Posted by P-LineSoo View Post
    I never quite understood the purchase of MILW. The Soo got that nice trackage from Milwaukee to Minneapolis in the deal, but that was the *only* prize and half of the double track had already been ripped up by MILW. Other than that, they got a lot of run-down duplicate routes and a bunch of junky old diesels and cars. It was kind of like winning an overpriced Goodwill auction. I also don't get why they ditched so much of what became the 2nd Wisconsin Central, there was a lot of business from Milwaukee to Green Bay, and from the Fox Valley west, even from the northwoods to the mills in the Valley.
    Seemed like the whole bidding process was intended pretty much as a joke ("No one will take it seriously because it's so much lower than anyone else"). The double track concept worked rater nicely, it did speed up Minneapolis to Milwaukee - but, again, that was also the only thing it did for them.

    As to spinning off WC, that was as far as I know a requirement. They justify it by saying "Well, it's all secondary/duplicate trackage anyway" - but I seem to recall a government mandate that they had to spin off a sizeable chunk, though can't remember exactly why offhand. That being said, the entire Soo region (Northeast Wisconsin) has always been a bit of a poor railroading market, what with Schneider in particular; there never was a lot of money to be made. That being said, kudos to WC for pulling off what they did. Of course, when CN came in all of a sudden it's not "profitable enough" for them - but then, what can you do?
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    Former SOO units in Roanoke, VA on July 28, 2016:

    IMG_2168.jpg
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by LBRCRailway; 23rd Nov 2016 at 10:49 PM. Reason: photos are lopsided
    Creator of the LBRC Railway: it's not easy running a railroad

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    This YouTube clip is pretty interesting, it's a cab-view of Soo's old mainline that ran through the city of Oshkosh, WI. That trackage has long been abandoned and removed...but at the time and for decades this was the mainline for all traffic from the North and West heading for the big yard at Fond du Lac and points south such as Milwaukee and Chicago. Dozens of trains per day rolled through town like this...down the middle of streets, right next to sidewalks, crossing driveways, etc.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAJrlsVGAjA


    For the short version, here's a clip of THE very last train to run down this route, a WC special pulling ex-Algoma Central passenger cars on a company farewell trip after a dumping of snow, Jan 26, 1996

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsfn7EazFXs

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    I built a Soo Line layout back in the late 1990s in N scale, when the Atlas GP-9s and GP-35s and Kato Fs came out with that lovely Wallace Abbey red-and-white paint scheme. I still have a large soft spot for the Soo. What a great railroad. One of the my favorite books is "The Little Jewel" by Abbey.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Schmidt View Post
    I built a Soo Line layout back in the late 1990s in N scale, when the Atlas GP-9s and GP-35s and Kato Fs came out with that lovely Wallace Abbey red-and-white paint scheme. I still have a large soft spot for the Soo. What a great railroad. One of the my favorite books is "The Little Jewel" by Abbey.
    I'm reading "The Little Jewel" currently! Very interesting book, especially enjoy the part where Wallace tells the story of coming up with that paint scheme -- and the other ones that he toyed with along the way.

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    Another reason that I love the Soo Line...where else can you find a Baldwin Shark in the lineup?


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    Looks as if they were borrowing that from the Delaware & Hudson. Soo never rostered a Shark.

    Given that I see pulpwood gons, that photo had to be taken on the U.P. of Michigan or northern-northeastern Wisconsin (??).

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    The story on this pic is that the Soo was delivering the Shark to the Escanaba and Lake Superior RR from the Michigan Northern. E&LS still has the two ex-D&H, ex-NYC Sharks, reportedly. They were seen outside as recently as 2014. They were moved across the lake one at a time on the Chief Wawatam, which the Soo handled the UP side of.

    Soo had it's share of Baldwins, many inherited from the DSS&A, but true, never rostered a Shark.

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    A cab ride through Oshkosh on the old Soo. It's all gone now. For those unfamiliar with this route, give it time. It starts a little slow but quickly turns into some of the most unique in-town running...lots of layout ideas here.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAJrlsVGAjA

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    I work in Oshkosh now....I remember well the old Soo and miss the way it meandered through town. When you watch the above video, these were typical speeds for the line, and remember that this was the MAIN LINE to the N. Fond du Lac Shops and Yard and Milwaukee/Chicago. Everything funneled in from the North and West...down from the Soo and Duluth and Minneapolis and Stevens Point, all down to north of Oshkosh and merged and then meandered across people's streets, sidewalks, front yards, back yards, parking lots, store and business backlots, over the Fox River, then crossing every cross-street through every neighborhood going south before clearing town and picking up a little speed before Shops/Yard and then meandering through Fond du Lac.

    For a while I lived in a shared house and the mainline was just across the alley from my bedroom. About every 20 minutes -- sometimes more frequently -- a train would come through, day and night. I loved it. This was right after the MILW merger so I got to see a wild mix of motive power, "Bandits" and cabeese.

    It was no wonder that when the Wisconsin Central acquired the Fox River Valley RR (former C&NW trackage), that they took over their high rail through town and abandoned the Soo Snake Dance through Oshkosh.



    Most people don't even know it was ever here now. I can see it, but one has to know what to look for and where. Even the pivot bridge on the Fox River is gone.

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