The Minneapolis and St. Cloud Railroad was originally chartered in on March 1, 1856 to construct a railroad line between Minneapolis and Saint Cloud. A later amendment to the charter allowed the M&StC to build further lines to Lake Superior and also the Minnesota River, which included a line between Saint Cloud and Duluth. However, the M&StC never actually built this particular line.
The charter was then purchased by the St. Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba Railway Company, and they built from St. Cloud to Milaca and to Hinckley, then on to Duluth. The line opened and operated on December 17th 1882. The charter had carried with it ten sections per mile, gicing St. Cloud a short line to the ports of Lake Superior.
James J. Hill had the town of Milaca platted in 1886 after the Elk River to Milaca cutoff was being built. Hill had a round house built in Milaca and had a shop to service engines.
In 1889, the line came under control of the Great Northern Railway and, through successive mergers, Burlington Northern Railway and BNSF Railway also.
The last train ran on this line in November 1983 and the tracks were removed from St. Cloud to Mora in 1984. Tracks were used from Mora to Brook Park until 2003 when track conditions led to an embargo on all traffic for the St. Croix Valley Railroad (The Skally Line) which had trackage rights from BNSF. The rest of the line to Brook Park was abandoned in 2003. Brook Park to Duluth is still used by BNSF.
Towns along the line:
- St. Cloud
- Oak Park
- Brook Park
Between St. Cloud and Milaca, remnants of the old rail bed along Trunk Highway 23 are overgrown with some destroyed, but still visible with a good eye. At crossings with creeks and rivers, trestle timbers cut off at the waterline can also be seen. Just a few miles west of Mora along Trunk Highway 23 there is a large stone arch span over a stream there, although a large portion of rail embankment was removed near by.
Thanks to Adam Jelinski for contributing information about this route.