Map showing the route of the Duluth & Winnipeg Railroad and its connections.
In 1858, Minnesota was made the thirty-second state, with St. Paul as its capital. St. Paul grew quickly from that point with increased farming and manufacturing opportunities.
Duluth, because of its location at the end of Lake Superior and its proximity to Minnesota’s timber and its iron-ore fields, came under the attention of business investors. The building of railroads to transport resources was of great concern in the 1870's.
After land for the project of a new line between Duluth and Winnipeg was granted in 1878, a corporation was organized and construction began. The Union Improvement Company built the first phase and was compensated in company stock. The second phase was financed by a timber company, eager to transport timber through Itasca and St. Louis counties. The company, eventually called the North Star Construction Company, maintained high hopes of garnering westward travelers in connecting with the Great Northern Railway at Winnipeg, but an economic downslide in 1893 forced the company into bankruptcy.
It was later acquired by the Great Northern Railroad, who used a portion of its route and abandoned the rest. The railroad company reportedly uprooted the tracks leading into Duluth in the middle of the night, so as not to gain attention, bypassing the city that had been so supportive of the line.
This detailed map published in 1881 by G.W. & C.B. Colton & Co. shows the north-central states, their cities and towns, waterways and counties.