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Forest Lake in Washington County, Minnesota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Ribbons of Steel

 
 
Ribbons of Steel Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Keith L, September 28, 2007
1. Ribbons of Steel Marker
Inscription.  Railroads were charted in Minnesota as early as 1853, but it was not until 1862 that Minnesota's first railroad began to operate on ten miles of track connecting St. Paul with St. Anthony (now part of Minneapolis). In 1870, the Northern Pacific Railroad began at Carlton, Minnesota and reached Portland, Oregon by 1884. By 1871, railroad lines had reached Minnesota's southern and western borders, and by 1893 the Great Northern Railway extended from St. Paul to Seattle. Over 150 railroad companies received their charters and built rail lines into nearly every part of the state, by World War I consolidating into about a half dozen major railroads. This immense transportation system was made possible by grants of public land to the railroads, estimated in 1873 at over thirteen million acres worth over fifty million dollars.

Railroads were critical to the development of Minnesota; they connected its citizens, agricultural products, natural resources, and manufactured goods with the rest of the country. They promoted towns and cities along their routes, and opened new markets as goods and products were swiftly transported across the country.

The
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peak year of railroad trackage in Minnesota was 1929 with 9,500 miles. By the mid 1990s there were less than 5,000 miles of track remaining. Passenger service, except for the modest Amtrak effort, was discontinued by the mid 1970s. Decline and further consolidation has been the fate of Minnesota's railroads during the last several decades, and many small towns and rural areas are without rail service of any kind. Numerous miles of right-of-way, once bearing ribbons of steel, now serve recreational uses; many former railroad depots have been adapted for new uses and are tangible reminders of the past.
 
Erected 1997 by the Minnesota Historical Society.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Railroads & Streetcars. In addition, it is included in the Minnesota Historical Society series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1853.
 
Location. 45° 16.216′ N, 93° 0.552′ W. Marker is in Forest Lake, Minnesota, in Washington County. Marker can be reached from Interstate 35 at milepost 131,, 0.7 miles south of West Broadway Avenue (County Highway 2), on the right when traveling south. Marker is at the southbound Forest Lake Rest Area. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Forest Lake MN 55025, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 14 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. In Memory of the First Swedish Settlers in Minnesota
Ribbons of Steel Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Keith L, September 28, 2007
2. Ribbons of Steel Marker
(approx. 9.6 miles away); Swedes in Minnesota (approx. 9.9 miles away); The Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ham Lake (approx. 10 miles away); The Original Townsite Plat of White Bear Lake (approx. 12.8 miles away); Fillebrown House (approx. 12.8 miles away); Restoring Oak Woods and Prairies: Why Do It? (approx. 13.3 miles away); Pine Point County Park (approx. 13.3 miles away); Historic Span of an Iron Bridge (approx. 13˝ miles away).
 
Blue Star Memorial Highway Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Keith L, July 23, 2011
3. Blue Star Memorial Highway Marker
Soo Line Trail image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Keith L, September 26, 2007
4. Soo Line Trail
A former railroad at Moose Lake (86 miles north of the marker) is now a recreational trail.
Moose Lake Area Historical Museum image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Keith L, September 26, 2007
5. Moose Lake Area Historical Museum
The former Moose Lake Depot, a national historic site, was built in 1910.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on February 10, 2008, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 1,357 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on February 10, 2008, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin.   3. submitted on August 10, 2011, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin.   4, 5. submitted on February 10, 2008, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. • J. J. Prats was the editor who published this page.

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Feb. 28, 2024