Randy's World

Remembering the Soo Line Railroad!

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Welcome, and thanks for floating by! I'm Randy, and this is my personal web site. It's not much right now, but I do plan to update the pages from time to time, as I'm able. In large part, the central theme will focus on remembering one truly great class I railroad - the Soo Line! Of course, I'll have other things too, such as my biography page, previous layouts page, and projects I'm involved with. I won't share too much personal data because of confidential reasons. So feel free to have a look around! If you have questions, just ask!


In 1983, the Milwaukee Road railroad went bankrupt, and eventually, the Soo Line railroad would enter the bidding war to purchase the Milwaukee. It would not be until mid 1985 when a federal judge in Minneapolis ruled based on all bids entered, that Soo Line's bid was preferred over the others, and signed an order transferring all Milwaukee Road assets over to the Minneapolis based Soo Line. What a day that was for me! I was excited and thrilled that Soo prevailed, but I also knew that big changes would be ahead as well. Visible changes began several months since the merger, as Soo Line power began showing up on former Milwaukee Road lines. This was a part of the "merger" process Soo invoked on. Then, not long after the one year mark since the purchase of the Milwaukee, another visible change was evolving. Many of the former Milwaukee Road locomotives were receiving black paint patches over the name and numbers of those units, and then were lettered for the Soo and renumbered. These locomotives became known as "bandits" owing to this black paint patchings applied. Myself, I thought this concept sucked big time, and this made the Soo look bad because they didn't take care of those locomotives! As all this was happening, the Soo, recognizing that it's new system was much bigger then it was, began a process to "spin-off" lines which were determined to be less profitable then the core system lines. As a result, much of it's orginal system lines were placed into a secondary group which would then operate them under a new entity. This new entity became known as "Lake States Transportation". Soo of course, would supply power and manage this operation.

But, this concept of a railroad within a railroad though having merit, prooved to be overwhelming for the Soo to keep operating. Funds for the company too, were drying up, and expenses of operations increasing. As a result, the Lake States Transportation system was put on the selling block. Finally, in September of 1987, private investors who were looking to form a new railroad, purchased the Lake States system, and the new regional carrier the "Wisconsin Central Ltd" was born. As part of that purchase, many elderly Soo Line locomotives and rolling stock (cars), became part of that new operation. Meanwhile, Soo Line continued to operate now mainly over former Milwaukee Road routes. As profits shot upward since spinning off Lake States, and moving tonnage across it's new system, Soo found itself with a power deficit. This stemmed from selling off former Milwaukee switchers to the Union Pacific, and sending other former Milwaukee SD40 locomotives back to their leasers as the leases became due. To this end, 12 used locomotives were purchased from HELM and GATX leasing. But this did not help the power deficit much. By the end of 1988, the Soo purchased 25 new SD60 locomotives off EMD. These units were numbered into the 6000 series. In May of 1989, the Soo unveiled it's new locomotive paint scheme, and several units were painted into this new solid all red scheme as they came in for light overhauls. The new red paint was referred to as "candy apple" red. In 1990, Canadian Pacific, who always had a controlling interest in the Soo announced it's intention to sell the Soo Line. By this time, the second order for SD60's arrived from EMD. Those came in Soo's new paint scheme. Five of those had the new MAC cabs on them. When the Canadian Pacific's attempt to sell the Soo failed, it decided to sell what it deemed as "elderly" Soo power. However, not many locomotives were really considered to be over 30 years old. Finally, in April of 1991, Canadian Pacific announced it's intention to take over full control of the Soo Line. When the news broke, this was a very sad day for many employees, and fans of the Soo. I was outraged! How could Canadian Pacific pull such a stunt? For over three decades, Soo Line operated an efficient railroad and hauled tons of products to everywhere. Now, CP wants to eliminate the Soo. But, what is done is done. Over the last years of the 19th century, and into the years of the 20th century, CP slowly phased out Soo power in favor of it's own elderly SD40's and other power, to the newer GE AC4400CW's it ordered. Today, Soo Line is only a memory. But, that memory will always shine on in the many die hard fans of what was truly "the Little Jewel".

Here are Soo units resting at Ashland Wisconsin in 1975. I remember seeing Soo units there quite often as a boy, working the small yard and the taconite/ore docks. Found memories!