North Shore Scenic Railroad Celebrates 30th Anniversary with Historic Reenactment

Brandon Weathers
Updated: May 10, 2019 06:26 PM

May 10th marks 150 years since the iconic golden spike was pounded and the first transcontinental railroad was complete. The North Shore Scenic Railroad (NSSR) held a joint celebration on Friday, honoring the 150th anniversary of the significant moment in national history, and also the 30th anniversary of their operation in Duluth.

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Tim Schandel, director of railroad operations for the NSSR, said, "the golden spike was driven at 11 am on May 10th, and that ceremony is going on right now in Utah." They held their own ceremony, recreating the photo that was taken at the same time on the same day in Utah 150 years earlier.

Families gathered at the Depot for a train ride up to the lakewalk by Fitgers. That's where the second engine met nose-to-nose with the first, and everyone gathered around them. A champagne toast was given between the two engines, and there were two men shaking hands in the center of the crowd. Each of these elements echoed those in the original photo.

Children were able to take the historical reenactment a step further by taking turns pounding a golden spike on the track. Executive director of the NSSR Ken Buehler addressed the crowd dressed in the fashion of the 1860s time period. He spoke of both the history behind the transcontinental railroad and the NSSR.

Schandel said, “we had a number of very foresighted people back in the 1980s who saw the opportunity to preserve the rail line, not just for tourist purposes, but for possible economic development.”

He points to the critical role volunteers have played in the 30 year life of the scenic railroad. "We have, right now, probably 50 or 60 folks who volunteer anywhere from a few hours a week to 30 or 40 hours a week. So, we're very fortunate, and we're a very lucky group."


Brandon Weathers

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