You are here

Union Pacific

[G2:1468 n=1 size=640]Through its purchase of the Chicago & North Western in April of 1995, Union Pacific has become a player in Duluth-Superior railroading. The C&NW can trace its Superior roots back to the late 1880s when the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha ("Omaha Road") arrived from Spooner, Wisconsin. This single line into the area provided passengers and shippers with a Duluth-Chicago routing as well as a circuitous Duluth-Minneapolis route versus the more direct NP/GN/Soo.

Like Canadian Pacific, Union Pacific does not own its own route into the Twin Ports. In 1992 the North Western sold the northern portion of its Superior line to the Wisconsin Central who then granted C&NW trackage rights over the route. This Superior-Chicago service complements the UP's other Twin Ports route over BNSF between Minneapolis and Superior. Operating out of Itasca Yard in far eastern Superior, UP sends one train a day to Chicago over CN (as far as Necedah) and one train to Des Moines (or Kansas City) over BNSF to St. Paul where they gain home rails. In addition to these scheduled freight movements, UP also handles a fair number of unit trains of potash, sulfur, grain, and occasional coal moves for MERC, usually delivered two to three times per month. Transfer runs are made to BNSF's 17th Street Yard and to BNSF/CP in Duluth. CN runs directly into Itasca with interchange from Pokegama.


The former C&NW roundhouse and turntable at Itasca were removed in the late 1990s. Engines are now turned using the wye at South Itasca (Tomco). Light repair of freight cars is still done near the old roundhouse site. The primary arrival and departure yard is at Itasca. Typical yard power consist of modern 4-axle geeps, usually GP38-2s or GP39-2s (photo above at Itasca in 2004). Motive power found at Itasca ranges from older SD40-2 locomotives to new UP models, including both EMD and GE makes. All ex-C&NW trackage in Duluth has been removed with UP using trackage rights over BNSF and CP to deliver cars for industries there (BNSF/CP do the actual switching). These transfer runs to Duluth occur 2-3 times per week or daily during grain rush. UP also handles trains of raw bentonite clay in black DM&E hoppers to Duluth for movement to Hallett Dock where the material is loaded on ships.