Scenic USA - Wisconsin
Osceola and St Croix Valley Railway
|Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website
Settled in 1844, Wisconsin's Village of Osceola is located along the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway and the Minnesota border. Located about 40 miles from Minneapolis and St. Paul, Osceola was one of the many stops along the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad. Shorten to the easily recognized Soo Line (a phonetic spelling of Sault), the railroad opened for business in 1884. Quickly gaining customers by shipping grain directly to eastern markets, the prosperous railway expanded across the upper Midwest.
Although a secondary stop, the Village of Osceola gained an upscale brick depot in 1916 after a railway collision damaged the wooden station. Built with red, wire cut brick, the depot was trimmed with white sandstone. The spacious depot featured both men’s and women's waiting rooms, a large freight room and large agent’s office.
Today, St. Croix River Valley guests are treated to a scenic excursion over the Soo Line tracks. The 20 mile trip begins at the historic Soo Line Depot aboard vintage railcars. Special cab and caboose rides add a rare experience to an already dramatic run along Osceola’s limestone bluffs on the St. Croix River. Often lead by a General Motors Electro-Motive Division diesel-electric locomotive #559, the excursion departs the depot and quickly descends into the river valley. Crossing the St. Croix River over the Cedar Bend Drawbridge, the train climbs the west bank into Minnesota, skirting the O’Brien State Park.
Operated by the Minnesota Transportation Museum, the #559 GM EMD locomotive had never officially displayed the Soo Line paint scheme. First purchased by the Rock Island Line, the 1500 horsepower EMD displays its fresh Soo Line colors here on the Osceola and St. Croix Valley Railway.
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