Soo Line passenger trains were simple affairs serving wide swaths of the rural Upper Midwest.
While passenger service was not a big part of Soo’s business, the road strived to maintain quality service, and with partner CP, offered Canadian connections. In 1889 MStP&SSM inaugurated the Minneapolis-Sault Ste. Marie Atlantic Limited, among the first trains with vestibule sleeping cars; its last remnant came off in 1960. Soo and CP in 1904 began the overnight Twin Cities-Winnipeg Manitoba Express, which in 1928 was renamed Winnipeger and lasted 39 years. It was the last of “pure” Soo Line passenger trains when it quit in March 1967.
“Pure?” Soo offered “mixed train” service, as seats in cabooses, on a select list of freights until September 1986, ending an era dating to early times in which almost all trains on branches in sparsely populated North Dakota carried passengers. Soo also ran Milwaukee Road’s Copper Country Limited, with Milwaukee equipment, on the train’s northerly 77 miles between Champion and Calumet, Mich., a service begun in 1907 and inherited from DSS&A. The train was discontinued March 8, 1968.
Soo and CP in 1923 inaugurated the summertime Chicago-Vancouver (B.C.) Mountaineer. In the off months, the train was the St. Paul-Moose Jaw, Sask., Soo-Dominion, its cars going on CP’s Dominion to Vancouver. Beginning in 1933, the Mountaineer rode C&NW east of St. Paul, and Soo-Dominion cars went to Chicago on C&NW’s Viking. After being off during World War II, it resumed in 1947, but service east of St. Paul ended in 1950. The Soo-Dominion quit in December 1963, the through service to western Canada going via Winnipeg. The Mountaineer then was part of the Winnipeger, until 1965. Soo was the last road to finish a Twin Cities-Twin Ports line, in 1912, and by the 1920s ran the Duluth-Superior Limited, trains 62 and 63. The route was in a pool with NP and Great Northern, but Soo withdrew first, in 1961.
Any lightweight cars on Soo Line passenger trains (apart from the road’s two 1948 American Car & Foundry baggage cars and one business car) were owned by Pullman, CP, or other roads as Soo stuck with heavyweights. Soo did rebuild some heavyweights for its Chicago-Duluth train, which gained the name Laker on June 3, 1951. It had through cars to St. Paul from Owen, Wis., and from Spencer, Wis., to Ashland. The Laker’s last run was Jan. 16, 1965.