Farmington to Mankato
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The line ran from Farmington, MN to Wells, MN, as part of the Iowa and Minnesota Division. It had roughly a 70 year life span from 1904 to 1974. Because it wasn't a major North/South line, track maintenance suffered. My dad used to haul freight and mail from the daily trains. The line was mainly 60 lb rail. Ballast consisted of pit run gravel, and whatever cinders fell out of the steam engines fireboxes. Many of the communities the line served were against abandonment, however, the Milwaukee Road turned it's back on what made them their money. The Red Jacket Bridge South of Mankato had a weight restriction, and the hill heading South of that bridge to Rapidan, MN required double heading as the first diesels to replace steam were Fairbanks-Morse switch engines. That portion is now a bike trail to Rapidan. The only remainder is 6 miles of track from Wells-Minnesota Lake, MN. The line NE from Mankato to Farmington has reverted back to private ownership. I lived in Cleveland, MN at the time the track was removed. This railroad was a part of my life for many years, and a hard fact of life for me to believe they are no longer in business.
using Google Maps satellite view you can make out most of the right of way between Lonsdale and Mankato.
According to locals, the line through Lonsdale was still in place with trains running until 2006.
Hmmm, i would dispute that claim from the locals. My sister lived in Lonsdale from 1999 to 2004 and she tells me there was no active railroad line through town while she lived there. Even the Lonsdale city website mentions no railroad exists through town as of 2003:
This was the only line through Lonsdale from Mankato to the south and from Farmington to the north. Every line to Mankato owned by the Milwaukee was torn out by 1980. The old H&D to Shakopee from Farmington was torn out in 1979. I can't imagine they would have left a branch from Farmington to Lonsdale that lasted to 2006.
What are those locals smokin' down there?!! ;)
One additional item from Minnesota Historical Society shows abandonment filed between 1976 and 1980 by the Milwaukee Road between Farmington and Benning (Benning is on the north side of Mankato where CNW's Winona & St. Peter and Omaha lines converged along with the Milwaukee from Kasota).
I recently acquired a Milwaukee Road track chart for this line. The rail consisted of 75 lb, not 60 lb as per my original posting.
75 lb rail was more than sufficient to support 100,000 lb rail cars when the line was constructed, but wouldn't have been heavy enough to support the 268,000 lb grain cars of today, especially with pit run gravel under the ties and sub-standard wood trestles. In addition, there was no way that rail served Lonsdale until 2006 as it was salvaged out long before that.