The NP 328's History

The story begins in 1904, when the Chicago Southern railroad was incorporated to build 114 miles of track from Chicago to a connection with the Southern Indiana Railway. Fourty locomotives were ordered in 1905 from the American Locomotive Company's Rogers works in Patterson, New Jersey. The order included twelve 2-6-0 "Mogul" types, eight 4-4-0 "American" types, and twenty 4-6-0 "Ten Wheeler" types. The first sixteen were delivered in July and August, among them six 4-6-0's. By the end of 1905 the Chicago Southern fell on hard times, and the remaining fourteen 4-6-0's sat unfinished at Rogers, without a buyer.

   During the winter of 1906-1907, the Northern Pacific was experiencing power shortages on its Washington, Montana, Idaho, and Dakota branch lines. It purchased ten of the unfinished engines for $14,500 each. They were completed and delivered in February, 1907. The Northern Pacific assigned them class S-10 and numbers 320 to 329. In their early years, 321 and 322 were assigned to the Dakota Division, 320, 323, and 324 to the Pharoah Division, and the rest to the Minnesota Division. In 1925, 325 and 326 were re-assigned to the Montana Division. Small, light engines even when new, the great depression rendered them surplus. Between 1929 and 1933 eight were cut up for scrap.

   The two survivors, 321 and 328, remained because of their light weight and a rickety old bridge. The Northern Pacific's mainline from the Twin Cities to Duluth sported a number of branchlines. The seventeen mile branch from Rush City, MN, to Grantsburg, WI crossed the St. Croix river on a very light bridge. Only D-3 engines or S-10 engines like 328 were light enough to cross it safely. 321 and 328 also frequented the branches from Wyoming to Taylors Falls and from White Bear Lake to Stillwater. By 1946, dwindling traffic and the new diesels resulted in 321's scrapping. On July 1st, 1948, 328 pulled the last train to Taylors Falls. In 1949 L-10 O-6-0 number 1167 replaced 328 on the Grantsburg branch. 328 still found work on the Stillwater branch and pulling railfan excursions, but in March 1950 was retired.

   328 was also ordered scrapped, but was saved by the Minnesota Railfan's Association, who managed to get it donated to the city of Stillwater. It was put on display in the park along the river, a couple blocks from the depot. In 1976 the Minnesota Transportation Museum leased the 328 and restored it to operating condition in the BN's ex-NP Como Shops in St. Paul. It pulled its first excursion train in 1981 during New Brighton's Stockyard Days festivities.

   NP 328 servced as a regular locomotive on MTM's Osceola & St. Croix Valley Railway, giving train rides to an older generation who remember when steam locomotives ruled the rails and exposing a new generation to steam locomotives and passenger trains for the first time. It ran between Marine on St. Croix, MN and Dresser, WI, a mere few miles from the Stillwater and Taylors Falls branches it once frequented. It also made occasional special trips to other locations around the Twin Cities.

 

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