Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Arrow Line Railroad

A New Marvel

In 1907 the Twin City and Lake Superior Railroad Company, in partnership with the Western Land and Improvement Company of Minneapolis, decided to embark on a new era of transportation in Minnesota and Wisconsin, namely, the Arrow Line Railroad. This was not just any everyday sort of railroad, even though it was part of the Twin Cities to Lake Superior Railroad system. The Arrow Line was the latest technology of the day, a high-speed electric railway! 

The Arrow Line would be fast. The fastest steam engine of the day could run from the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul to the Twin Ports of Duluth and Superior in about five hours. The Arrow Line would make the same trip in only two. Its route would lead from the Twin Cities, through Chisago County, into Wisconsin to Grantsburg, back into Minnesota in Pine County, up into Carlton County, and finally to its destination of Superior, Wisconsin. 

Part of the Western Land and Improvement Company's scheme was to plat towns along the Arrow Line and sell lots to prospective settlers who would develop the land agriculturally and start businesses in the new towns. In fact, the Company acquired 150,000 acres along the railroad's right-of-way that it was itching to sell. An advertisement for the electric railroad proclaimed, “This new electrical wonder traverses a section of country wonderfully rich in natural resources and is destined to be the most densely populated section of this wonderful state. This road does not strike a village, city or hamlet from the time it leaves the city limits of the Twin Cities until it reaches the city limits of Duluth and Superior. In consequence of this fact, the opportunity for new towns along its line is especially inviting.”

New Pine County Towns

The Company planned several towns along the Arrow Line in Pine County. It advertised extensively and dispatched agents to recruit settlers and manage the actual sales. Settlers could purchase lots for a small down payment with low interest rates, and many did just that. From south to north the new Pine County towns were as follows:

1. Duxbury – In May of 1908, the Company platted Duxbury in section 15 of Wilma township, right beside the Arrow Line. Named for Frank R. Duxbury, a prominent Pine County land owner, this new village was to be the headquarters for the Arrow Line's Pine County operations. Duxbury was later moved to its current location at the junction of sections 8, 9, 16, and 17 of Wilma township. 

2. Whelans – This proposed village was supposed to be located along the Arrow Line in Keene township. In never materialized.

3. Silverton – Platted in Park township, Silverton was designed to be a bustling railroad town. Mr. Mounsey, the president of the Twin City and Lake Superior Railroad Company, built a hotel there in 1910. A depot was soon to follow. Today all that is left of Silverton is the hotel's foundation (the building burned before 1918) and an old plat map. 

4. Otto – This proposed town was planned along the Arrow Line in Park township. In was never platted or built.

5. Copper City – Nickerson township would have been home to this proposed village. 

A Failed Plan

The Arrow Line would have been a marvelous addition to Pine County's landscape. It would have attracted settlers, businesses, and prosperity. The problem was that the Arrow Line was never actually built. Construction began, certainly, but by the spring of 1910, the Arrow Line was nearly defunct. By 1911, the project's money ran out. Construction had ceased. There were no plans to begin again. Stockholders and settlers were left without their new electric railroad. The Arrow Line became only an interesting part of Pine County's history. 

Source: Pine County...and Its Memories by Jim Cordes

1 comment:

  1. Hello Amy!

    I'm posting this on FB as well.

    My name is Fred Keller. We've met a couple times here in and around Sandstone. I'm a songwriter and musician with a keen interest in history. I'm applying for a grant to do a project focusing on the Government/Military Road as a unifying motif. I'm not writing the history of the road itself but of the people and history (and the possible histories that might have been) along it. As someone who knows a great deal about Pine County I'd love to talk with you some more about ideas I have. I also would like to build some time with you into this grant application. If you had to put a price on, say, a 2-hour session (I'll use that as a repeatable unit of time ), what would that be? Please feel free to contact me at FB, at fkeller AT scicable DOT net or 3 2 0 2 4 5-6 7 9 9. Thank you!