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Celebrate 'Cloquet's steam engine' at fundraiser Tuesday

No. 28 is a working steam engine of the Duluth & Northeastern Railroad that is the showpiece for the Lake Superior Railroad Museum at the Depot in Duluth. Photo courtesy of Lake Superior Railroad Museum Collection1 / 6
As the Duluth, Missabe & Northern Railroad's No. 332, the engine hauled iron ore and general cargo from 1906 until 1955 when the locomotive was sold to the Duluth and Northeastern RR in Cloquet. Photo courtesy of the Lake Superior Railroad Museum Collection2 / 6
Work gets underway on Dunlap Island in the engine house of the Cloquet Terminal Railroad (CTR), today's successor to the DN&E. This was part of the cosmetic restoration done by CTR and Sappi. Photo courtesy of Tim Schandel3 / 6
After removing the asbestos boiler wrapping, new insulation is applied by trained volunteers from Local 49. Photo courtesy of Tim Schandel4 / 6
Part of the restoration to running order done at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum was installation of new boiler tubes and flues. Photo courtesy of Tim Schandel5 / 6
A father and his young railfan son check out No. 28 on one of her test runs along the Lakefront Line over Tischer Creek in Duluth April 22. Photo courtesy of Steve Glischinski 6 / 6

IF YOU GO

A Commemorative Program and Restoration Fundraiser for the still-working Duluth & Northeastern Railroad's No. 28 steam engine will start at 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 9, at Community Memorial Hospital, 512 Skyline Blvd., Cloquet. The event, which includes a free continental breakfast, is sponsored by the Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the Lake Superior Railroad Museum at the Depot in Duluth. Proceeds will be used exclusively for the operating restoration of No. 28.

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The Duluth & Northeastern Railroad's No. 28 steam engine is a survivor — after 111 years, it's one of very few steam engines still running and making trips on the rails. Carlton County old-time rail fans are invited to celebrate the famous steam engine's at a special fundraiser in Cloquet Tuesday, May 9.

It will be just one more virtual stop for the storied engine, which Duluth's Lake Superior Railroad Museum Director Ken Buehler calls "Cloquet's steam engine" because of its long history in the City of Wood.

Purchased by the Duluth, Missabe & Northern Railroad in 1906 from the Pittsburgh works of the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) as their No. 332, the engine labored hauling iron ore and general freight up and through the 1937 merger that formed the DM&IR.

According to Buehler, the engine is a 2-8-0 Consolidation and was built to be a slow-moving slugger that could pull heavy loads of raw ore, logs and general freight. She labored on for nearly 20 years and, in 1955 — when most of the remaining steam engines were being scrapped in favor of new diesels — No. 332 was sold to the Duluth and Northeastern Railroad (D&NE) in Cloquet and renumbered as their No. 28.

She switched the Potlatch mill (now Sappi) and Conwed (now USG), along with several other local businesses and was one of the last working steam engines on an American common carrier railroad.

As a common carrier, the D&NE had to provide passenger service, which they did by selling tickets to ride in the caboose between Dunlap Island and Saginaw.

Cloquet's No. 28 became quite famous as a steam dinosaur surviving through the dawn of the diesel age. Her stacks smoked until 1964, but she wasn't done yet. The engine was used on several popular "End of Steam" excursions and rail fans from across the country came to Cloquet to watch the engine in service. Its last duties in Cloquet also included acting as a back-up boiler to heat the engine house on Dunlap Island.

In 1974, the engine was painted and donated to the Lake Superior Railroad Museum at the Depot in downtown Duluth where she sat inside, protected from the elements, until the winter of 2011. At that time, with the help of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway — which sandwiched the vintage steam locomotive between two of its own engines — the locomotive was moved back to Cloquet where it began a cosmetic restoration in the shops of the Cloquet Terminal Railroad.

The convoy departed from Duluth around 11 a.m. that day and didn't arrive at the roundhouse in Cloquet until around 5:30 p.m. Buehler explained that because of the age of the engine, it had to travel at restricted speeds and make frequent stops for inspections.

We had to make sure the bearings were holding together and not dragging or fouling up," explained Buehler.

Though the six-and-a-half-hour journey went "very, very smoothly," Buehler said, technicians did discover a "hot box" between Chub Lake and Carlton that had to be cooled and re-oiled before the transport could continue.

By 2014, the crew from Sappi had completed their agreed-to portion of the work and the Federal Railroad Administration determined that No. 28 was a candidate for a full operating restoration. With that the engine was moved back to Duluth and volunteers at the Railroad Museum completed the work necessary for an FRA Form Four Certification. Five years and $750,000 later that work is almost complete.

The D&NE No. 28 will pull excursion trains on the North Shore Scenic Railroad this summer between Duluth and Two Harbors. These trips will travel the Lakefront line, on former DM&IR trackage that No. 332 ran on more often than not, back in the day. Unlike almost every restored steam engines in North America, of which there are only about 150, No. 28 will be running on or near her home rails.

The "Commemorative Program and Restoration Fundraiser" for No. 28 will start at 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 9, at Community Memorial Hospital, 512 Skyline Boulevard in Cloquet. The event, which includes a free continental breakfast, is sponsored by the Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the Lake Superior Railroad Museum.

The May 9 event for the engine will be a tribute to the years she worked in Cloquet and the name No. 28 made for herself and the Duluth & Northeastern Railroad as one of the nation's last operating steam locomotive in commercial service. Also recognized will be the sponsors of the restoration and the volunteers who donated thousands of hours of time, talent and funds to see the engine running again.

Companies such as SAPPI, Cloquet Terminal Railroad, A.W. Kuettel & Sons, Cragin Machine Shop in Superior, Arrowhead Autobody of Duluth, members of the Heat & Frost Insulators-Asbestos Workers Local 49's Apprentice Program, Fraser Shipyards, BNSF and others who all donated so much to this project will be recognized.

Funds raised through donations at the event will go to paying for the final 26 L-brake work, steam injector reinstallation, timing of the Stephenson valve/running gear and operating supplies along with Kentucky Stocker #2 coal, water treatment and specialty lubricants.

The commemorative program and restoration fundraiser will also feature a presentation on the restoration of the engine and a report on her upcoming excursion schedule. No. 28 is scheduled to make its public debut June 10 and 11, heading up special trains for those who donated to the engine's restoration. The first public trips are scheduled for June 23-24 when No. 28 will pull round trips to Two Harbors, Minn. Other public trips are scheduled on weekends in July, August and September.

For schedules and tickets, go to duluthtrains.com or call the NSSR ticket office at 218-722-1273.

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IF YOU GO

A Commemorative Program and Restoration Fundraiser for the still-working Duluth & Northeastern Railroad's No. 28 steam engine will start at 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 9, at Community Memorial Hospital, 512 Skyline Blvd., Cloquet. The event, which includes a free continental breakfast, is sponsored by the Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the Lake Superior Railroad Museum at the Depot in Duluth. Proceeds will be used exclusively for the operating restoration of No. 28.

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