“Going up north” is a tradition that most Minnesotans hold dear. Up north can pretty much be anywhere north of the Twin Cities where people go on the weekends to a cabin they own or rent on or near a lake. I’ve enjoyed going up north with my wife both to our honeymoon spot near Ely, Minnesota and to her parents place in the Brainerd Lakes area. I also like the idea of classic boats and scenic lands.
Wanting to capture this, but not wanting to deviate too far from the Twin Cities, I was happy when I chanced upon a book about the short line to Taylors Falls that connected to Wyoming, Minnesota, a city on a Northern Pacific mainline I was interested in. It has woods, old depots, rock cliffs and lakes making it very scenic and “up northy”.
The Taylors Falls and Lake Superior Railroad, by Richard E. Thompson, Steven J. Monson (published by Iron Horse Central Museum) has been an interesting read.
It gives compelling details and first hand accounts of the 20 mile branch from Wyoming, MN to Taylors Falls from the first run on November 9, 1880 to the last run on June 30, 1948. Getting a railroad to a river town, such as Taylors Falls was risky. The terrain, and grades would prove difficult to lay track and many investors took one look and turned away. It was up to the town leaders themselves to create a railroad that didn’t have any track, but instead promoted the idea, funded by municipal bonds, in order to entice competitors to build and operate the Taylors Falls and Lake Supperior Railroad.
This book goes above and beyond with numerous pictures and detailed information and track diagrams of each town, as well as depot and bridge design drawings complete with measurements.
The Forest Lake Times did an article about the writers in 2005: http://www.forestlaketimes.com/2005/november/30Thompson11305.html