Milwaukee Road 261 Fall Color Excursion Train proceeds will benefit engine overhaul

All “Friends of the 261” fall color excursion train proceeds will benefit the overhaul of Milwaukee Road 261.

The Milwaukee Road No. 261 restoration has been undergoing a series of repairs to conform to Federal Railroad Administration standards for the last couple of  years. Last Friday workers at a Twin Cities machine shop pressed a repaired main driving wheel onto Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261, a much acclaimed critical point in the engine’s rebuilding.

Over time, due to wear on the wheel,  it had developed an oval shape and there were also fears that the wheel and axle might have other problems. The wheel was removed from the axle earlier this year and was inspected at that time.  A hole in the wheel was filled and then  re-bored, at the Con-Tex Machine of Vadnais Heights, Minn. The wheel was then returned to its axle on August 5.

One set of wheels has already been turned on a lathe, with the other three sets to follow. The wheels will travel to Tennessee for additional work at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum’s shop.

While the 261’s owners, the non-profit “Friends of the 261,” have not announced a date for completing the Milwaukee Road 261 rebuilding, it hopes the engine will steam again in 2012.

“Public Enemies” film crews get things set up shortly after the 261 entered the station. Photo by Joe LeMay

The 1944 Alco built  engine operated in excursion service from 1993 to 2008 and recently appeared in Chicago for the making of Johnny Depp’s  portrait  of the charismatic and elusive bank robber marked by the FBI as America’s first “Public Enemies Number One” as it arrives at Chicago’s Union Station.

This autumn the “Friends of the 261” in cooperation with Amtrak, BNSF Railway and Canadian Pacific will operate diesel-powered fall color excursion trains to help rise funds for the rebuilding of Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261. The trip will be pulled by one of Amtrak’s “Heritage” diesels. Amtrak has repainted four locomotives in different color schemes used by the passenger railroad over the last 40 years, since 2011 marks the company’s 40 Anniversary.

Milwaukee Road No. 261 last trip

Saturday, Oct. 8-The “Friends of the 261” fall color excursion train will depart Minneapolis at 9:00 a.m. and travel BNSF Railway’s ex-Great Northern Hinckley Subdivision 124 miles to the wye at Boylston, just south of Superior, Wis. After turning, the train will return to Minneapolis, with an approximate arrival time of 5 p.m. The train will operate a total round-trip of 250 miles over trackage that has not seen regular passenger service since 1985.

Sunday, Oct. 9– The “Friends of the 261” fall color excursion train will operate from Minneapolis to La Crescent, Minn., with an intermediate stop at Winona. The train will depart Minneapolis at 9:00 a.m. and operate via Canadian Pacific’s scenic ex-Milwaukee Road main line along the Mississippi River. Passengers may detrain in Winona to spend the afternoon in town. The train will continue 24 miles to La Crescent where it will be turned and return to Winona and Minneapolis.

Both trips will include coach, first class and premium class. Premium class includes reserved seating in Milwaukee Road Skytop observation Cedar Rapids or Super Dome 53.

Enjoy a smooth ride in one of the Friends four Amtrak-certified coaches. Whether it is the No. 202 or 203, former Algoma Central coaches, or one of their other coaches, you won’t be disappointed. In these well maintained cars, you will have comfy seats, great views and plenty of space to roam around. Also featured in coach class will be the Friends baggage/concession car. In this carsnacks and food will will be sold, along with 261 collectibles and memorabilia.

Ticket Prices:
October 8th, 2011

Minneapolis to Boylston & Return Click here for tickets
COACH $79.00 (children under 3 free if not occupying a seat)
CHILDREN’S COACH $59.00 (ages 3 to 14)

October 9th, 2011
Minneapolis to Winona & Return Click here for tickets
COACH $79.00 (children under 3 free if not occupying a seat)
CHILDREN’S COACH $59.00 (ages 3 to 14)

Winona to La Crescent & Return Click here for tickets
COACH $39.00 (children under 3 free if not occupying a seat)
CHILDREN’S COACH $29.00 (ages 3 to 14)

When you  upgrade your ticket to either first class or for  an even more memorable excursion experience, to a Premium Class ticket,  you will then have the opportunity to enjoy a ride in the famous Cedar Rapids observation car and the full-length Super Dome. Built in 1948, the Cedar Rapids was Frank Sinatra’s favorite car to ride. It’s easy to see why, with the smooth ride along and some of the most comfortable chairs you will ever sit in. This is topped off by the glass enclosed Skytop solarium at the rear of the car, which offers a great view of the scenic countryside as it passes by.

Cedar Rapids Observation Car

Teaming up with the Cedar Rapids is Super Dome No. 53. One of the heaviest railroad passenger cars ever built, Super Dome 53 offers incredible views through 90 feet of glass. Super Dome 53 was once of the first full-length dome cars ever built and offers a superior ride with great views. Recently renovated, Super Dome 53 has plush seats and a full service wet bar in the center of the dome. In Premium Class, you will enjoy a chef-prepared first class meal. Breakfast will be served shortly after departure from Minneapolis. As the train is turned on the wye in Boylston and La Crescent, we will be serving lunch as well. Premium Class includes complimentary beverage service.

April Newsletter – The Friends of the 261

Our crews balance work between the 261 and our passenger cars, and work has been continuing on the fleet of Amtrak Certified cars that the Friends owns. We have passed the half-way point in the restoration of Locomotive 261 and are

Publish Date: 05/09/2011 12:14

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One Response to Milwaukee Road 261 Fall Color Excursion Train proceeds will benefit engine overhaul

  1. Marilyn Quilling says:

    Are next weekend trips full (premium)

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