Explore the Collection


Steam Locomotives

Many steam locomotives are in the collection mostly from the local area, but also some unusual gems.

Duluth and Northeastern
Locomotive No. 28

This locomotive was built by the Pittsburgh Locomotive Works in 1906 for the Duluth, Missabe and Northern as their No. 332. A typical drag freight consolidation type engine of the early 1900s, she weighs in at 102 tons (172 tons with tender loaded). The capacity of the tender is 8,000 gallons of water and 12 tons of coal. This style of locomotive was designed to be used in general freight service, working slowly along the line setting out and picking up cars from sidings along the way. No. 28 was sold to the D&NE in 1955, and was used to haul logs, lumber products and some general freight. It worked in this service until 1964 and was last under steam in 1965. The D&NE restored and donated the locomotive to the Museum in 1974. Photo by Kevin Acker

Minnesota Steel
Steam Locomotive No. 7

This little saddle-tank engine was built by Porter Locomotive Works for the United States Steel-Duluth Works in 1915. Designed specifically for working in restricted clearances around the open hearth, the 7-spot spent its entire working life in the US Steel plant in Morgan Park, about 6 miles south of the Museum. It served as a plant switch engine, moving cars of ore, coal, and coke around the plant. As a plant switcher, it was designed to be operated by one man. The fuel (coal) was carried in a small bunker in the cab, and the water in the saddle tank over the boiler. Quite heavy for only four wheels (36 tons), it was designed that way purposely to allow it to move in tight quarters and sharp curves, and yet be able to move a significant load.

H.K. Porter specialized in building small locomotives for various industrial uses. They offered a very wide variety of sizes and gauges that were used in mines, sugar plantations, road construction, and industrial plants such as US Steel. No. 7 was donated to the Museum in 1973 by United States Steel.

St. Paul and Pacific Steam Locomotive No. 1

crooks.jpg (48905 bytes)The St. Paul and Pacific was the first railroad in Minnesota, and the William Crooks was the first steam locomotive to run in the state. Eventually, the St. Paul and Pacific became the St. Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba in 1879, and in 1890 part of the Great Northern Railway. The locomotive was constructed in 1861 by Smith and Jackson of the New Jersey Locomotive and Machine Company of Paterson, NJ. The locomotive was named for William Crooks, Chief Mechanical Engineer of the St. Paul and Pacific, and Colonel of the Sixth Regiment, MN Volunteers, in the Civil War. The William Crooks arrived in St. Paul by steamboat on September 9, 1861. On June 28, 1862, the locomotive hauled the historic first trainload of passengers in Minnesota a distance of 10 miles between St. Paul and St. Anthony (now Minneapolis). Regular service between St. Paul and St. Anthony began on July 2, 1862.

One of the few remaining locomotives of the Civil War period, the Crooks was retired from active service around the turn of the century. In its heyday, the locomotive handled “Empire Builder,” James J. Hill’s private trains, as well as regular passenger trains of the period. It also played an active role in War Bond Drives during World War II.

Most of the early steam locomotives had cowcatchers on the front of them. This is because there were open ranges at the time, and cows and other animals wandered all over. If an animal got on the tracks and refused to move after bells were rung and whistles blown, the locomotive would use the cowcatcher to push the animal off the tracks. It might get hurt or even killed, but the cowcatcher prevented the animal from getting underneath the wheels of the train and derailing it. The headlight is a kerosene lantern, and the dome marked #1 is a sand dome. If the rails were slippery, the engineer pulled a lever and sand went down the tube and was dropped off in front of the drive wheel, providing better traction for the locomotive. A screen covers the top of the smokestack to curtail the sparks created from burning wood. These sparks might otherwise start fires along the tracks. The boiler is the long green part and was filled with water. A hot fire was built in the firebox of the locomotive cab. It heated all of the water in the boiler and turned it into steam. The steam went into the pistons and made the side rods go back and forth, which made the wheels go around. This is basically how a steam engine works. All of the extra water and fuel (in this case, wood) were kept in the tender until needed.

On a steam engine, generally, though not always, the size of the drive wheel compared to the rest of the engine usually told what kind of work it did. Large wheels like on the Crooks meant the engine could travel very quickly but could not pull a heavy load, so this engine was used for passenger service. An engine with small drive wheels meant it had to travel very slowly, but it could pull a very heavy load. These engines were used as freight engines.

The engine weighs 28 tons (51 tons with tender), and is 50 feet, 8 ¼ inches in length. The Crooks was built as a wood burner. In recent times, it traveled under its own steam to the Chicago and New York Worlds Fairs. Its last trip under steam was to the railroad fair in Chicago during 1948. The William Crooks owes its longevity to the insistence of James J. Hill, who was President of the St. Paul and Pacific during its heyday. The Crooks had become his favorite locomotive. Whenever the “Empire Builder,” as Mr. Hill became known, was to travel, the Crooks was chosen to pull his train. When the time had come for the railroads to upgrade their trains, and it became known that the William Crooks was to be scrapped, along with cohorts of its vintage, it was Mr. Hill who intervened. Thus, today we can still view one of the contributors to our nation’s history. The locomotive was donated to the Minnesota Historical Society by the Great Northern Railway, and has been on custodial loan to the Museum since May of 1975. Item on indefinite custodial loan from Minnesota Historical Society. Photo by Bruce Ojard

Northern Pacific
Steam Locomotive No. 2435

Constructed in 1907 by Brooks Works of the American Locomotive Company, No. 2435 is typical of the many prairie-type engines used for fast freight service in the Midwest during the early 1900s. No. 2435 ended her days on the Northern Pacific in 1954 having been demoted to switching and transfer duties. Exhibited for many years at the Duluth Zoo, it was donated to the museum by the City of Duluth in 1978. Photo by Hannah Booth

Duluth and Northern Minnesota
Steam Locomotive No. 14

dnm14.jpg (24911 bytes)Built by Baldwin Locomotive works in 1913, D&NM Railway No. 14 represents the last remaining locomotive used on Minnesota’s once extensive system of logging railroads. The locomotive hauled log trains into Knife River, 20 miles north of Duluth, until 1919 on the Duluth and Northern Minnesota Railway Company. The railroad served a large region along a 99-mile line that reached almost to Grand Marais. Logs were brought down and loaded onto boats at Knife River. When Alger-Smith Lumber company closed down its operations including the D&NW Railway, the locomotive, along with companion locomotive No. 13, was sold to the ore hauling Lake Superior and Ishpeming Railroad at Marquette, Michigan, serving that railroad until 1959. Shortly afterwards, it was sold to the Inland Stone Division of Inland Steel located by Gulliver, Michigan, retaining the same number under three owners. No. 14 is of the Mikado type and weighs 90 tons, 150 tons with tender loaded. Restored to operation in 1992, its most noteworthy exploit to date was an appearance in the Walt Disney's film Iron Will, made in the Duluth area in 1993. Photo by Tim Schandel

Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range
Steam Locomotive No. 227

227.jpg (16846 bytes)The Mallet No. 227 was one of 18 yellowstone-type locomotives built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works for the Missabe Road during World War II, years 1941 and 1943. It was built in 1941, and named after the Frenchman who designed it- Mallet (pronounced Mally). Diesel engines were making an appearance around this time period, but were a relatively unknown entity. Since cost and logistics of fuel and maintenance supplies were not paramount on the design constraints list, the decision was made to stay with a coal burning steam locomotive. During its 20-year operating life, shortened by dieselization, the No. 227 hauled approximately 40 million long tons of iron ore from the mines on the Mesabi and Vermillion Ranges to the docks at Duluth and Two Harbors. Steam locomotives were rather expensive to operate, and the later proven diesel locomotives were a natural replacement, so the No. 227 was retired in 1960.

Weighing some 566 tons in working order, and stretching 128 feet in length, the No. 227 is one of the largest and most powerful steam locomotives ever constructed. Capable of developing 6,000 drawbar horsepower, it made routine work of handling 180-190 car trains weighing more than 18,000 tons. As a contrast, No. 227 had a pulling power of 30 times that of the WILLIAM CROOKS. The engine was designed to operate efficiently at 45 miles per hour. When working at full power, it could consume some 10 to 12 tons of coal an hour and evaporate water into steam at the astounding rate of 12,000 gallons per hour. The amount of coal the engine used in one hour would be enough to heat a home for two winters. It carried 26 tons of coal and 25,000 gallons of water in its tender.

The No. 227 is an articulated locomotive, meaning there are two engines, which are hinged together beneath a single boiler. The articulated evolved because engines with four, five, or six coupled axles became more and more difficult to build and maneuver. By hinging the driving wheels in two sets, a much larger and more powerful locomotive could be built that could travel easier through curves. The boiler was attached to the rear engine, enabling the front engine to pivot freely from side to side. The boiler rests on a sliding plate, which transfers part of the weight to the front engine. Due to the lateral wanderings of the front engine, the boiler would swing far to the outside of curves.

No. 227 was restored for the Museum through the efforts of the DM&IR Veteran Employees Association, which contributed in excess of $8,000 toward the project. The DM&IR matched that contribution, performed all restoration, and donated the locomotive to the Museum.

Northern Pacific
Steam Locomotive No. 1

tonka.jpg (280451 bytes)The wood-burning Minnetonka was the first locomotive to see service for the Northern Pacific Railway. Weighing 12 tons and stretching 27 ½ feet long including tender, the locomotive was purchased from Smith and Porter of Pittsburgh at a cost of $6,700. Built in 1870, it was the workhorse for the start of the NP transcontinental railway construction at Carlton, MN, twenty miles west of Duluth. It pulled long, heavy loads of ties and rail behind it. Work crews would lay some of the ties and rails down, spike them to the ground, and then the locomotive would move up a bit. They would lay some more track, and the locomotive would move up a bit. After a long time and a lot of hard work, the railroad was finally built. The Minnetonka worked the eastern end of the transcontinental line, and was transferred by rail and boat for construction work between Kalama and Tacoma, Washington after the line was completed.

The locomotive remained on the western end of the railroad until it was sold in 1886 to a logging company. The logging company added the small tender, which carried fuel only. In 1895, it was resold to another logging company, the Polson Logging Company of Hoquiam, Washington, and became known as “Old Betsy.” It was retired and abandoned in 1928. The Minnetonka’s original smokestack was modified to provide for a safer operation. The one seen today is larger, with additional screening installed to control the emission of sparks from the burning wood. The headlight is a kerosene lantern. The box on top, marked #1, was used to dispense sand for traction, similar to the WILLIAM CROOKS. The locomotive has small drive wheels for strength and heavy load service where speed is not an issue. To add weight over the drive wheels, thus increasing the locomotive’s strength for pulling heavy loads, there is a water tank over the boiler. It sits over the boiler like a saddle, hence referred to as a saddle tank design, and carries extra water.

After a lengthy search by NP, the Minnetonka was discovered in the woods near Hoquiam and was sent to St. Paul for restoration. The little engine was sent to both the Chicago and New York Worlds Fairs in the 1930s, and was also under steam at the 1948 Chicago railroad fair. The Minnetonka is owned by the Burlington Northern, and is on custodial loan the Museum. Item on indefinite custodial loan from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.