Minnesota Railroad Jobs

Header Photo: Drew Jacksich

Regardless of the company you may ultimately work for, Minnesota railroad jobs can be pretty ruthless just due to the weather alone as the state is notorious for downright nasty winters and snow falling well into the spring of the year. If you live in Minnesota and are interested in a railroad career the state is home to four of the six Class Is (Union Pacific, BNSF, Canadian National, and Canadian Pacific) along with two Class II, regionals and a handful of smaller Class III, shortlines. As such, you have a very good opportunity at landing a job with one of these companies (most likely a Class I or Class II).

Great Northern F units and Geeps, including a new GP30, layover at the road's terminal in St. Paul, Minnesota during September, 1965.

Working within the railroad industry really becomes a way of life, particularly if you hire on in with a Class I in either transportation or maintenance where one is constantly out on the road. Couple this with the harsh weather Minnesota has to offer and you really may want to think long and hard if a career in railroading is right for you. Typically, railroaders not only work long, 12-hour days but they also spend many nights away from home and in a hotel. While smaller railroads do offer a more predictable schedule they cannot match the excellent pay, benefits, and retirement of Class Is. In the end, you will have to weigh the pros and cons yourself in deciding if becoming a railroader is something you want to do. 

For college students who may be researching a career in railroading, several Class Is offer internship and graduate programs in either management or business to get your foot in the door early. Finally, I get a lot of e-mails about employment, job openings, and what all is involved. I really cannot provide anymore information than what has already been presented here. 

Class I Railroads/Amtrak


BNSF Railway

Canadian National Railway

Canadian Pacific Railway

Union Pacific

Great Northern E7A #503 has just departed St. Paul Union Depot with train #24, the northbound/eastbound "Badger" (St. Paul-Duluth), at around 8 AM on May 30, 1968. By this time the train's accommodations included only reclining seat coaches. Note the Lafayette Bridge (U.S. Route 52) under construction. It opened later that year.

Short Lines And Regionals

Cloquet Terminal Railroad: This short line has been in service since 2002, providing switching services for the large Sappi paper mill and a few other customers in Cloquet. Address: 315 Saint Louis Avenue, Cloquet, Minnesota 55720. 

Minnesota Commercial Railway: The Minnesota Commercial has been in operation since 1987 operating nearly 150 miles of railroad in the Twin Cities with traffic being widely diversified. Please visit the company's website to learn more about career opportunities. 

Minnesota, Dakota & Western Railway: This short line dates back to 1910 and is currently owned by Boise, Inc. Today, it serves paper mills in International Falls, Minnesota and Fort Frances, Ontario. Address: 101 2nd Street, International Falls, Minnesota 56649. 

Minnesota Northern Railroad: This large short line operates more than 200 miles of track in the western areas of the state handling primarily agricultural products. Address: 1420 South Main Street, P. O. Box 705, Crookston, Minnesota 56716. 

Northern Plains Railroad: This independently-owned, short line railroad is mostly concentrated in North Dakota, operating 400 miles of track and traffic consisting of agricultural products. Please visit the company's website for job information. 

Minnesota Prairie Line: The MPL is a subsidiary of the Twin Cities & Western operating nearly 100 miles of track between Granite Falls and Hamburg. To learn about career information please visit the TC&W website. 

Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range 2-8-8-4 #226 has a long string of empty ore jennies heading northbound at Alborn, Minnesota in May, 1959.

Minnesota Southern Railway: This short line operates a stretch of trackage in southern Minnesota between Manley and Agate; the former connects with BNSF while the latter Union Pacific. In all, there are about 41 miles in use. The company maintains its own website were contact information may be found. 

Northern Lines Railway: This rather small shortline is owned by Anacostia & Pacific operating about 25 miles of track between St. Cloud and Cold Spring with a branch to St. Joseph. Please visit Anacostia's website regarding job inquiries. 

Otter Tail Valley Railroad: This short line is part of Genesee & Wyoming's large family of railroads operating about 81 miles of track between Fargo and Fergus Falls, with a westerly extension running from the latter town. 

Progressive Rail, Inc.: Progressive Rail operates trackage in three different states and takes its paint scheme from the historic Minneapolis, Northfield & Southern Railway, also known as The Dan Patch Line (whose former trackage it also operates). Please visit Progressive Rail's website for career and contact information. 

Red River Valley & Western Railroad: Under common ownership with the Twin Cities & Western, the RRV&W is a 600+ mile system mostly located in North Dakota northwest of Wahpeton with lines stretching into extreme western Minnesota. To learn more about job opportunities please visit TC&W's website. 

This scene, taken from the Raymond Avenue Bridge in St. Paul, Minnesota features a westbound Chicago & North Western freight, led by FP7 #217 (ex-Chicago Great Western), on March 14, 1976. The train is about to pass St. Anthony Tower.

St. Croix Valley Railroad: This independently-owned railroad operates about 36 miles of track between Hinkley and North Branch. The system began service in 1996 and was once owned by RailAmerica. Address: 175 West 4th Street, Rush City, Minnesota 55069. 

Twin Cities & Western Railroad: This independently-owned short line began service in 1991 acquiring the ex-Milwaukee Road main line west of the Twin Cities. Today, the carrier operates about 360 miles and also operates a few subsidiary systems. Please visit the TC&W website regarding employment information. 

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Researching Rights-Of-Way

A popular pastime for many is studying and/or exploring abandoned rights-of-way.  Today, there are tens of thousands of miles scattered throughout the country.  Many were pulled up in the 1970's and 1980's although others were removed long before that.  If you are researching active or abandoned corridors you might want to check out the United States Geological Survery's (USGS) Historical Topographic Map Explorer.  It is an excellent resource with thousands of historic maps on file throughout the country.  Just type in a town or city and click on the timeline of maps at the bottom of the page!

Studying Diesels

You will be hard pressed at finding a better online resource regarding diesel locomotives than Craig Rutherford's TheDieselShop.us.  The website contains everything from historic (fallen flags) to contemporary (Class I's, regionals, short lines, and even some museums/tourist lines) rosters, locomotive production information, technical data, all notable models cataloged by the five major builders (American Locomotive, Electro-Motive, General Electric, Fairbanks-Morse, and Baldwin), and much more.  A highly recommended database!

Electro-Motive Database

In 1998 a gentleman by the name of Andre Kristopans put together a web page highlighting virtually every unit every out-shopped by General Motors' Electro-Motive Division.  Alas, in 2013 the site closed by thankfully Don Strack rescued the data and transferred it over to his UtahRails.net site (another fine resource).  If you are researching anything EMD related please visit this page first.  The information includes original numbers, serials, and order numbers.