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Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range: Freight trains

By | April 9, 2021

The DM&IR is Classic Trains' Railroad of the Month for April 2021

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Steam locomotive with freight train
Articulated steam locomotives with freight train

“Cross-country” ore train at Sparta, Minn.


East of Fayal, Minn., former Duluth, Missabe & Northern 2-8-8-2 No. 211 snakes an ore train east at Sparta, Minn., in 1957. On the Missabe this was considered a “cross-country” train, as it was not headed south to Proctor/Duluth or Two Harbors.

Photograph by Franklin A. King
Articulated steam locomotives with freight train
Road-switcher diesel locomotives with freight train

SD9s with empties north


Two SD9s lead empty ore cars north at Saginaw, about 15 miles north of Proctor, in July 1976. Lead unit 149 wears the DM&IR’s original broad-stripe livery, modified with a vertical stripe on the nose.

Photograph by Steve Glischinski
Road-switcher diesel locomotives with freight train
Articulated steam locomotive with freight train on bridge

Big engine, little cars


DM&IR 2-8-8-4 No. 221 rolls ore loads south toward Proctor in September 1957.

Photograph by John Pickett
Articulated steam locomotive with freight train on bridge
Steam locomotive pushing on rear of freight train

0-10-2 helper

Ex-Union Railroad 0-10-2 No. 602 assists a train of empty ore cars up the hill from Duluth to Proctor in the early 1950s.

Cecil Cook
Steam locomotive pushing on rear of freight train
Steam locomotive with freight train

The left-handed Missabe

DM&IR 2-10-4 No. 713, acquired from sister U.S. Steel road Bessemer & Lake Erie, trudges up Proctor Hill with empty ore cars in 1954.

Photograph by Philip R. Hastings
Steam locomotive with freight train
Overhead view of steam locomotive and caboose in freight yard

Action at Rainy Junction

A Missabe 1300-series ex-Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Mikado has hold of a caboose at Rainy Junction, Minn., in 1950. In the background, an Oliver Iron Mining Alco RS2 approaches with loads.

Photograph by Henry J. McCord
Overhead view of steam locomotive and caboose in freight yard
Steam locomotive with freight train

“Commercial” freight


Surrounded by the trappings of steam railroading, 2-8-0 1208 heads a general freight train at Virginia, Minn., in July 1950. On the Missabe, such non-ore trains were known as “commercial” traffic.

Photograph by Henry J. McCord
Steam locomotive with freight train
Three road-switcher diesel locomotives with freight train

Hot taconite

Taconite pellets still warm from processing at Eveleth “steam” on an extra behind an SD40-3/SD38AC/SDM trio in February 2000. The train is southbound near Saginaw, between Hull Junction and Coleraine Junction.

Photograph by Steve Glischinski

Three road-switcher diesel locomotives with freight train
Two road-switcher diesel locomotives with freight train

Climbing Proctor Hill

SD9s 116 and 103 grind up Proctor Hill with empties bound for the mines and another load of iron ore in July 1957.

Photograph by Jim Scribbins
Two road-switcher diesel locomotives with freight train
Streamlined diesel locomotives with freight train

Visiting F units

DM&IR dieselized after the heyday of carbody diesels, but F units were not unknown on the road. Leased B&LE F7 No. 723 and an F7B lead a Proctor-bound ore extra south at Saginaw.

Photograph by Franklin A. King

Streamlined diesel locomotives with freight train

All through April 2021, Classic Trains editors are celebrating, the history, heritage, and grit of the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railroad. Please enjoy this freight train photo gallery of images selected from the files of Kalmbach Media’s David P. Morgan Library.

Only from Classic Trains!

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