Grant, my “Nebraska correspondent,” and I did a a few area tours while he and his wife were up in the Twin Cities this last July. We wanted to visit a few old brewery sites and even attempt to do some train spotting. I say attempted because although we were in some proximity to the tracks at each location, we missed all six that came by.

First, we visited the 7th Street trail entrance for the Bruce Vento Trail along the former Northern Pacific line that went from St. Paul to Duluth–the “Skally Line” I have so often written about. The 7th Street entrance to the trail is alongside and elevated above the 7th Street yards. Just as we arrived, but before we could get down into the trail area for a good view, a southbound BNSF grain train roared past. We did get a good look at the cars, but that’s about it.

It wasn’t soon after when we were under the I-94 bridge, looking south, we saw the Eastbound Amtrak Empire Builder cross the line in the distance behind some trees.

We walked up the trail north to the Hamm’s Brewery and looked at it from the trail. The old Chicago and North Western line crosses the trail using a wooden timber bridge on the north side of the brewery. The line, now operated by the Union Pacific, goes from Westminster Junction east to Stillwater. There were some cars sitting on the bridge and I snapped a few pictures of possible date tags and as the day was hot and humid we decided to head back.

ex-Chicago and North Western nose crossing bridge by Hamm's Brewery

ex-Chicago and North Western nose crossing bridge by Hamm’s Brewery

About two blocks away, when we were near the Minnehaha bridge, I heard a hum of a diesel approaching. I turned around, got my camera ready, and snapped my first train picture of the trip, an ex-Chicago and North Western crossing the bridge. Well, at least I got the nose.

We made our way back to the parking lot and just as we got to the car we heard another train go by the trail below.

Later that day were were out on Boom Island in Minneapolis to see the famous Grain Belt sign along the Mississippi River. BNSF tracks run across the island and into Minneapolis. A train derailment to the north in Fridley stopped freight and commuter traffic for several days, but the line was now back up in running. We parked in a school lot, got ready to head up the hill to the Hennepin Bridge when we heard crossing bells behind us. We turned around to get a glimpse of the Northstar Commuter Train heading south into downtown towards Target Field for the evening commute.

While on the Hennepin Bridge we got a great view of the Grain Belt sign, and I was able to snap a photo of a southbound Twin Cities and Western crossing the bridge on the BNSF line.

So, no videos this time, but we had a great time sight seeing and scoping out a few spots for future train watching.

Southbound Twin Cities and Western heading across Mississippi into Minneapolis

Southbound Twin Cities and Western heading across Mississippi into Minneapolis

About Chad Leigh Kluck

Originally from Nebraska, I am a history and railroad enthusiast currently living near Saint Paul, Minnesota. I enjoy trains, photography, and nostalgic memories, as well as the history of transportation, agriculture, eateries, breweries, and railroad towns. More...

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