Following 1980 things began to change for the Soo. Murray left his
post as president in 1978 and while the Staggers Act of 1980 deregulated
the railroads the Soo found itself needing to expand to remain
competitive. In doing so it attempted to purchase the defunct Rock
Island’s “Spine Line,” which connected with the Soo at the Twin Cities
and ran south to Kansas City but lost this bid to the Chicago &
North Western. Around this time one of the competing Pacific Northwestern lines,
the Milwaukee Road, made a bizarre decision to abandon almost all of
its [profitable] western main lines and unprofitable Midwestern branches
to shrink down to a system of just over a 3,000 miles. While this plan worked to cut the railroad’s expenses it also made the Milwaukee a very sought after merger partner. Bidding again with the C&NW the Soo line this time won approval and took over the Milwaukee in 1985.
|Two first-generation Soo units, GP7 #377 and F7A #2202-A await between assignments at the engine terminal in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan during July of 1975.|
Unfortunately for the Soo the Milwaukee came at an extremely high cost and it took even more money
to upgrade poorly maintained Milwaukee trackage, which put the Soo in
serious debt. In another stroke of bad luck the Milwaukee’s remaining
lines turned out to be not as profitable as was hoped and the Soo’s
profits sank to only marginal status (also during this time the Soo sold
off unprofitable trackage of its former WC system, which ironically
became Wisconsin Central Ltd., now part of the Canadian National system).
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|Wearing the Soo's first livery, an elegant blend of maroon and yellow, F7A #2202-B and its F7B mate are at the yard in Stevens Point, Wisconsin on August 23, 1966.|
Diesel Locomotive Roster
The American Locomotive Company
|FA-1||205A-211A, 205B-211B, 2220A-2223A (WC), 2220B-2223B (WC)||1948-1949||22|
|RS1||100-107 (Ex-DSS&A), 350-353, 2360-2368 (WC)||1945-1954||21|
|RSC3||372-374, 2380 (WC)||1950-1951||4|
The Baldwin Locomotive Works
|Soo GP9 #2556 leads a local Chicago-Minneapolis, unnamed passenger train through St. Paul during the evening of June 3, 1964.|
|An uncommon, Baldwin-built DRS-4-4-1500 road-switcher, #360, works the yard at St. Paul on June 3, 1964. The Soo predominantly purchased EMD products but did roster a small fleet of Alco and Baldwin models (and even a few from Fairbanks-Morse and GE).|
|F3A||200A-204A, 200B-204B, 2200A-2200B (WC)||1947-1948||12|
|F7A||212A-214A, 212B-214B, 2201A-2203A, 2201C-2203C, 2224A-2230A (WC), 2224B-2230B (WC)||1949-1953||26|
|NW2||300-301, 2108 (WC)||1939, 1948||3|
|GP9||400-414, 550-558, 2400-2413 (WC), 2550-2556 (WC)||1954-1957||45|
|F7B||500B-503B, 2101C-2203C (WC), 2204C (WC), 2500B-2501B (WC)||1949-1952||10|
|FP7||500A-503A, 504-505, 2500A-2501A (WC)||1949-1952||8|
|SD10||532, 534, 543||Ex-Milwaukee Road||3|
|GP40||732-756, 2000-2067 (Ex-Milwaukee Road), 4605-4659 (Ex-Milwaukee Road)||1967-1971||148|
|GP38-2||790-799, 4410-4452, 4500-4515 (Ex-Milwaukee Road)||1973-1981||69|
|SW1200||321-328, 1200-1204 (Ex-MN&S), 1204-1222 (Ex-Milwaukee Road), 2120-2127 (WC)||1954-1965||40|
|MP15AC||1500-1563 (Ex-Milwaukee Road)||1975-1976||64|
|GP15C||4100-4106||Ex-Conrail GP9 Rebuilds||6|
|GP9r||4200-4204||Ex-Conrail GP9 Rebuilds||6|
|GP39-2||4598-4599 (Ex-Kennecott Copper)||1978||2|
|SD40-2||6300-6316, 6349-6370, 6375, 6380-6382, 6384-6388 (All Ex-Milwaukee Road)||1973-1974||42|
|SD40||6400-6405 (Ex-KCS), 6411 (Ex-B&O)||1967, 1970||7|
|SD45||6491 (Ex-Frisco), 6492 (Ex-BN)||1969-1970||2|
|Soo Class H-3 4-6-2 #2710 pulls a passenger train out of St. Paul on July 23, 1949.|
|Soo Class N-20 4-8-2 #4019 pulls into St. Paul with train #6 on June 5, 1950.|
|One of the Soo's largest steamers was its Class O-20 4-8-4 Northerns, of which it owned four numbered 4000-4003. Seen here is #4000 pulling a passenger train through Northtown, Minnesota on July 3, 1947.|
Steam Locomotive Roster
|B Through B-4||Switcher||0-6-0/T|
|C Through C-5||American||4-4-0|
|D Through D-3||Mogul||2-6-0|
|E Through E-2||Ten-Wheeler||4-6-0|
|F-1 Through F-12||Consolidation||2-8-0|
|D Through D-3||Mogul||2-6-0|
|H Through H-3||Pacific||4-6-2|
|L Through L-4||Mikado||2-8-2|
|A lost art in railroading today was the quite common car ferry operations. Soo GP30 #708 loads the S.S. Chief Wawatam at the St. Ignace, Michigan docks during June of 1979.|
Notable Passenger Trains
Atlantic Limited: Connected Minneapolis to Boston in conjunction with Canadian Pacific and Boston & Maine.
Copper Country Limited: Connected Chicago to Calumet, Michigan in conjunction with the Milwaukee Road.
Duluth-Superior Limited: (Minneapolis - Duluth)
Laker: (Chicago - Minneapolis/Duluth/Ashland)
Mountaineer: Connected St. Paul to Vancouver, British Columbia in conjunction with Canadian Pacific.
Soo Dominion: Connected St. Paul to Vancouver in conjunction with Canadian Pacific.
Winnipeger: Connected St. Paul to Winnipeg, Manitoba in conjunction with Canadian Pacific.
|GP30 #716 and GP9 #404 pull a westbound freight through Forest Center, Michigan on September 26, 1987.|
Parent Canadian Pacific was no longer interested in the Soo Line after the buyout of highly debt-laden Milwaukee Road turned out a bad business decision. As a result, it decided to sell its majority
stake in the company in the late 1980s. Ironically, in a strange twist of fate
management soon reversed this decition and not only reacquired its majority stake but also the
remaining Soo stock in 1990 (due to a lack of buyers), taking over full
ownership of the railroad that year. Today the railroad is technically still an operating
railroad, albeit on paper only as CP has nearly entirely integrated the
Soo into its system (gone is the railroad's longtime red and white livery).
Related Reading You May Enjoy
Other Classic Railroads Of The Midwest
Burlington, "Way Of The Zephyrs"
CA&E, "The Roarin' Elgin"
C&NW, "Route Of The '400'"
Rock Island, "Route Of The Rockets"
D&M, "The Turtle Line"
DT&I, "We Have The Connections"
GB&W, "The Green Bay Route"
IC, "The Main Line Of Mid-America"
IT, "The Road Of Personalized Services"
IHB, "Connects With All Chicago Railroads"
CMStP&P, "Route Of The Hiawathas"
Monon, "The Hoosier Line"
Nickel Plate, "High Speed Service"
St. Louis Southwestern
MN&S, "The Dan Patch Line"
M&StL, "The Peoria Gateway"
The Missabe Road
MoPac, "Route Of The Eagles"
CGW, "The Corn Belt Route"
DW&P, "Delivered With Pride"
BRC, "The Belt"
EJ&E, "Chicago Outer Belt"
KCS, "Route Of The Southern Belle"
Lake Superior & Ishpeming
Wabash, "Follow The Flag"
Santa Fe..."All The Way!"
St. Louis-San Francisco Railway