A Brief History of the Soo Line:
The Soo Line was the result of mergers and consolidations of many railroad companies. The three principles were the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie, the Wisconsin Central and the Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic.
The Minneapolis, Sault Ste. Marie and Atlantic Railway was charted in 1883 by flour millers in Minneapolis to provide a “short cut” to eastern markets through Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and Canada. Construction began in 1884 and the route to Sault Ste. Marie was completed in 1887.
The Minneapolis and Pacific was charted in 1884 westward to the wheat fields of North Dakota to provide grain for the flour millers in Minneapolis. Construction started in 1886.
In 1888 the two railroads merged along with some smaller railroads to form the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railway (MStP&SSM) which became known as the Soo Line because of the phonetic for the eastern most city on the line.
The Wisconsin Central (WC) has its roots to the 1850s but was officially charted in 1871 as the Wisconsin Central Railroad. Construction started later that year from West Menasha, Wisconsin to Stevens Point and the next year south from Ashland, Wisconsin and west from Stevens Point. Eventually the Wisconsin Central reached Chicago in 1886.
The Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic also had its origins in the 1850s and a number of small railroads in the Marquette, Michigan area were merged in 1886 to form the Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic Railway (DSS&A).
The Canadian Pacific had interests in the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie and the Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic.
In 1909, the MStP&SSM leased the Wisconsin Central and in 1961, the MStP&SSM, the WC and the DSS&A merged to form the Soo Line Railroad Company adopting the long time nickname of the “Soo Line” as the official corporation identity.
In 1985 the Soo Line purchased long time rival the Milwaukee Road and moved much of its Minneapolis to Chicago traffic to the Milwaukee’s double track mainline. In 1987, the Soo Line spun off much of the original Wisconsin Central, the Minneapolis, Sault Ste. Marie and Atlantic and many former Milwaukee Road Wisconsin branch lines to regional start-up Wisconsin Central Ltd.
In 1990 the Canadian Pacific took full ownership of the Soo Line and in 2001 the Canadian National purchased the regional Wisconsin Central Ltd.