Soo Line Mid 1960’s Freights


Soo Line 1964 Freight Schematic

(click to enlarge)

Using available freight schedules, the 1965 Eastern Division blocking instructions available from, and some timetables, here are a few of my observations.  Any additional information or corrections are most welcome!

Changing Train Numbers Out West

According to 1949 timetables, trains west of Shoreham were westbounds 73 for Glenwood and 89 for Portal, with corresponding eastbounds 70 from Glenwood and 90 from Portal.  (I don’t have access to a Winnipeg Division timetable from this period, so I do not know if numbers 73 and 70 were used all the way to Noyes, but in 1952 they were trains 125 & 126 north of Glenwood.)  By 1955, the Portal trains had been renumbered 25 and 26 which corresponded to train numbers 25 and 26 east of Shoreham to Chicago.  

Train numbers 73 & 70 continued in use for the Glenwood to Shoreham trains, but by 1960 these were renumbered to 125 & 126 corresponding with the train numbers on the Noyes Line.  By 1971, all of these trains would be renumbered again to correspond to Canadian Pacific trains on the other side of the border.

Were these changes a reflection of a shift to speed up run through traffic between Canada and eastern points?  Not necessarily; connections at Shoreham did not significantly improve between the 1950’s and mid 1960’s.  Which brings us to:

The Shoreham Connection

While the train numbers suggest that the Portal to Chicago connection was the more important route, the tighter connections were actually maintained with the Noyes trains.  According to the condensed schedules, connections were maintained between Train 70 / 126’s early morning arrival and train 26’s morning departure.  Contrast this to the much longer dwell on cars from the Portal gateway arriving in the late evening.

This is not true on westbound traffic, however.  The 1964 Condensed Schedule shows Train 25 to 125 as the scheduled route for Chicago to Noyes traffic, but train 125 departs an hour before 25 arrives in Shoreham.

Train 24 is a new addition by 1964, and is primarily a run through train between Portal, Minot and the Twin Cities and Chicago according to the Condensed Schedule.  However, the 1965 blocking guide shows the train with blocks for Chippewa Falls, Stevens Point, and Chicago.  The long dwell at Shoreham suggests the train was reclassified there. 

Shoreham Connections

The Changing Role of Train 26

With the addition of Train 24, it appears Train 26 was downgraded in importance.  While the 1964 Condensed Schedule shows the Shoreham connection between Train 126 and Train 26 for Noyes to Chicago traffic, the 1965 Blocking Guide shows train 26 handling primarily short traffic, while Trains 24 and 30 have blocks for Chicago.   Perhaps this changed between 1964 and 1965, or perhaps the condensed schedule doesn’t show the reality of the operation.  Without additional information, it is hard to know. 

No. 26 – Departure – Withrow – 7:30 a.m.
1. Caboose
2. Stevens Point and east short cars mixed
3. Chippewa Falls to Stevens Point mixed, including Superior Line
and Ashland Line
4. New Richmond

Note: No. 26 sets out at New Richmond, and at times switches
and picks up rush loads.

No. 30 – Departure – 11:30 a.m. deadline
1. Caboose
2. Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire
3. Stevens Point
4. Chicago

No. 24 – Departure – Withrow – 8:30 p.m.
1. Caboose
2. Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire
3. Stevens Point
4. Chicago

While train 26 is on the schedule from Portal, it appears it was combined with train 126 from Noyes at Glenwood.  Between handling local business east of Shoreham, and the indignity of losing it’s schedule between Glenwood and Noyes, it seems new train 24 has definitely usurped the role of train 26 as the main Portal connection by 1964.


As always, thanks to those that have shared information to make this entertaining speculation possible.  And as always, if you have access to good information, please consider sharing so all can benefit.  Every little bit helps!




SOO Train 125 Minneapolis

Train 125 at Minneapolis bound for Noyes, July 1962. Photograph by Wallace W. Abbey, collection of the Center for Railroad Photography & Art,