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BN Steam (yes, really!)

There has been lots of talk lately about the paper mill in Brainerd and about the Brainerd Local.  There used to be another interesting industry there – the BN’s Brainerd Tie Plant.  To move raw ties into and out of the treating ovens, they used the fireless 0-4-0 seen below.  The BN owned and ran the tie plant, so in my book that means that they owned the locomotive and hence, BN steam!  The tie plant office was a wonderful wooden/steel underframe open platform observation-parlor car.  It was remarkably intact, including brake rigging and buffers/diaphragms, but on a foundation and without trucks.  The seats had all been stripped out, but the drawing room was still there, though again without seats, and in the main body the wonderful brass individual luggage racks were still over where each parlor seat had been.  It was assumed by all that it would be coming to the museum in Duluth when the tie plant closed which, even then, was known to be fairly imminent – to this day out in the weeds behind the museum you can see a pair of wooden side frame 6-wheel trucks that were gotten from the DMIR in anticipation of being put under the Brainerd car.  Something happened after I left in mid-1978 because shortly (maybe as much as a year) after leaving the plant closed and the car was, if I recall correctly, burned, the BN (and for some reason I recall that it was the Law Department) having decided that they had “already given the Museum enough”.  This makes no sense, of course, as there was zero salvage value of the car so I can only assume that either [1] somehow someone at the museum had p***ed off the BN, or else (and I think more likely) someone at BN had a grudge against Tom Lamphier who was president of BN at the time and a very strong supporter of the museum.  It’s a shame as it was really (or could have again been)  a stunning car.  I’m sure that at this point we will never know the whole story.

Gordon