Isn’t it great to know that yet another “Big” engine is out and about this year.
This engine has been purchased by a group of Railroad Enthusiasts, who use trips to fund maintenance.
The friends of 261 purchased the engine in 2010 in order for it to run again in steam.
If you are in the area, please go for a rid and support this loco staying on the rails.
This autumn the “Friends of the 261” in cooperation with Amtrak and BNSF Railway will operate fall color excursion trains powered by Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261. All funds raised by these trips go toward the continued maintenance and operation of No. 261 and fleet.
On Saturday, Oct. 10th, our excursion train will depart Minneapolis at 9:00 a.m. and travel BNSF Railway’s ex-Great Northern Hinckley Subdivision 124 miles to the wye at Boylston, just south of Superior, Wis. After turning, the train will return to Minneapolis, with an approximate arrival time of 5 p.m. The train will operate a total round-trip of 250 miles over trackage that has not seen regular passenger service since 1985.
On Sunday, October 11th, our excursion will depart Minneapolis at 9:00 am, and travel to Willmar, Minn. over the former Great Northern Railway main line, now BNSF Railway’s Wayzata Subdivision. This route was once used by the GN’s famed “Empire Builder” passenger train, and has not seen regularly scheduled passenger train service since 1979. The 186-mile round trip features several scenic highlights: the train will pass along the shores of Lake Minnetonka at Wayzata and Howard Lake at the town of the same name. At Willmar, No. 261 will be turned on the former Great Northern turntable once used by GN steam locomotives.
Willmar has been a railroad town for over 100 years. As the first Great Northern division point west of Minneapolis, it had a roundhouse, turntable, large yard and freight and passenger depots. It was also a junction town, with lines radiating east to Minneapolis, west to Fargo/Moorhead, southwest to Sioux City, Iowa, and northeast to St. Cloud. Only the St. Cloud line is no longer in operation.
Both trips will include coach, first class and premium class. Premium class includes reserved seating in Milwaukee Road Skytop observation Cedar Rapids or Super Dome 53. All tickets are round trip to outline destination and back to Minneapolis Jct.