News & Reviews News Wire Milwaukee Road No. 261 makes second run in 2023

Milwaukee Road No. 261 makes second run in 2023

By Steve Glischinski | November 30, 2023

4-8-4 to pull weekend North Pole Express trains at St. Paul Union Depot

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Steam engine, E unit and passenger trian
Milwaukee Road No. 261 brings its North Pole Express train down Westminster HIll on BNSF Railway in St. Paul, Minn., on Nov. 30, 2023, ahead of a weekend of North Pole Express trips. Steve Glischinski

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Railroading Heritage of Midwest America’s Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261 made its second run of 2023 today (Thursday, Nov. 30) operating from its home base in Minneapolis to St. Paul Union Depot. Friday through Sunday, Dec. 1-3, the locomotive will run short “North Pole Express” trips at the depot in what has become a holiday tradition. This is the second trip of the year for No. 261 — it moved in June from Minneapolis to Union Depot for display at Union Depot Train Days.

The North Pole Express will also operate the weekend of Dec. 7-10, but those trips will be pulled by RRHMA’s Milwaukee Road E9 No. 32A. RRHMA President and Chief Operating Officer Steve Sandberg has said that keeping No. 261 under steam for the five days between trips in what has often been bone-chilling Minnesota cold was expensive and hard on crews. Add in the fact that many people don’t even notice that a diesel is up front means No. 261 will go back to its Minneapolis shop after the last trips Dec. 3.

No. 261 has been pulling North Pole Express trips in St. Paul since 2014, except in the COVID-19 year of 2020. The event has become RRHMA’s most popular event and biggest fundraiser. The train includes lounge car Wisconsin Valley, coach Wenonah, two bilevel coaches, and another lounge car. No. 32A provides head-end power.

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