Two Harbors in Lake County, Minnesota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
Duluth and Iron Range Railroad Locomotive #3
"The 3 Spot"
— 1883 —
Central American Connection
The 3 Spot was built in 1883, by Philadelphia-based Baldwin Locomotive Works. The 3 Spot was originally built for the Tehuantepec Interoceanic Railway in Mexico. The Tehuantepec Interoceanic never took delivery, leaving the locomotive available to the D&IR who was in need of motive power at the time.
Along the Minnesota Frontier
The John S. Wolf and Company of Ottumwa, Iowa, was awarded the contract to build a 68-mile railroad line. The company was charged with laying track from a place on Lake Superior called Agate Bay to an iron ore mine near a town later known as Soudan. The first locomotive purchased by the Duluth and Iron Range Railroad was the No. 3, nicknamed the Three Spot. They paid cash for it in the amount of $9,750.
Perilous Lake Journey
Bringing the Three Spot from Philadelphia to Duluth was relatively easy. The locomotive came to the Lake Superior port on existing railroad lines under its own power. The thirty mile trip from Duluth to Agate Bay, later known as Two Harbors, was a different story. In Duluth, the Three Spot was carefully lashed
All was well until a northeaster blew up and threatened to sink the scow and locomotive into the lake. Many a Lake Superior captain in similar conditions would order the tow lines cut so that both boats would not be capsized. In his memoirs, McGonagle attributed their safe arrival in Agate Bay to Flynn’s seamanship and providence. The 3 Spot arrived in Agate Bay on August 29, 1883.
Duluth and Iron Range Railroad Service
The Three Spot was pressed into service shipping men, supplies, rails, and all the necessary equipment from Agate Bay up to the track laying site and served as a construction locomotive for the railroad. The Three Spot was a perfect locomotive for this mission. She was a wood burning engine, able to gather wood and water along the wilderness route. Contrary to popular myth the 3 Spot did not haul the first load of iron ore down from the Vermilion Range. The 3 Spot was simply too light to pull heavy loads of raw ore.
In 1899, the Three Spot was sold to the Alger-Smith Logging Company’s Duluth and Northern Minnesota Railroad, headquartered in Knife River for $3000.
After being sold several times and nearly lost to scrap the little 2-6-0 was brought home. The Thirty Year Veteran’s Association of the Duluth and Iron Range Railroad Company was allowed to display the Three Spot by the D&IR Depot where it has remained since 1923.
Erected by Lake County Historical Society.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Railroads & Streetcars. A significant historical year for this entry is 1883.
Location. 47° 1.133′ N, 91° 40.243′ W. Marker is in Two Harbors, Minnesota, in Lake County. Marker is at the intersection of South Avenue and 6th Street (County Route 20), on the right when traveling east on South Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 520 South Avenue, Two Harbors MN 55616, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. First Ore Taken From A Minnesota Mine (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named First Ore Taken From A Minnesota Mine (a few steps from this marker); Ore Car #251, 1884 & Bobber Caboose #22 (#52), 1893 (a few steps from this marker); D&IR Railroad Company SleighDuluth and Iron Range Depot (within shouting distance of this marker); Hand Car, Velocipede, Sleigh, Station Wagon (within shouting distance of this marker); Duluth Missabe & Iron Range Yellowstone Mallet #229 (within shouting distance of this marker); John Dwan Office Building (about 800 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Two Harbors.
Regarding Duluth and Iron Range Railroad Locomotive #3. Marker and locomotive are part of the Lake County Historical Society Deport Museum complex.
Also see . . .
1. Lake County Historical Society Depot Museum. (Submitted on November 10, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. The Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway. (Submitted on November 10, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. Missabe Railroad Historical Society. (Submitted on November 10, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Credits. This page was last revised on December 10, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 10, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 355 times since then and 10 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on November 10, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. 2. submitted on November 11, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. 3, 4, 5. submitted on November 10, 2014, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.