In the northern woods of Minnesota lies the Mesabi Iron Range, an area rich in taconite iron ore – and rich in railroading history! When this production was filmed in 2001, the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railway was busy hauling this iron ore from processing plants to the rail docks on Lake Superior. We’ll explore the operations of the DM&IR beginning at the dock in Two Harbors, then along its two divisions and several branch lines, and finally to the huge docks in Duluth, and all along the way see its beautiful maroon and gold locomotives at work. Traveling along the Iron Range Division from Two Harbors to Iron Junction, we spot DM&IR’s SD40-3s, former SD45T-2s remanufactured for the railroad. At Highland, a southbound train enters the scale track to weigh each car. The DM&IR runs three general freight trains and we watch one head onto the branch line at Wales to pick up freight cars from the Northshore Mining Company. A rail train, led by an SD38AC, departs the yard in Biwabik.
At Iron Junction a northbound train is headed by a rebuilt SD18 and a rebuilt SD9, now classified as SD-Ms. On the Missabe Division, run-through power includes CSX SD80MACs and BNSF Dash 9s. An SD38DC leads a southbound load with steam rising in the cold winter air from freshly processed taconite pellets. We’re treated to the nonstop operations at Dock 6 in Duluth, the largest ore dock on the Great Lakes. The DM&IR, seen here through all four seasons, delivers a unique combination of hardworking railroading, intriguing motive power, modern industrial facilities, and scenic wilderness. It’s a great viewing experience!