“Trains At The Depot” Pulls Into Beltrami County Historical Society
“Trains at the Depot” at the Beltrami County Historical Society drew in a crowd of young and old train enthusiasts. The Beltrami County Historical Society co-hosted the event with the Northern Iron Horse Railroad Society, which was started in 1985 by a group of friends.
“There’s an interest in modern railroading and everybody kind of had a layout at home, but a couple of guys that are no longer with us thought, ‘wouldn’t it be fun if we could form a club,'” said Northern Iron Horse Railroad Society Secretary Andy Mack. “So we met different places for a couple of years just talking.”
Now, the society is housed in the basement of the Beltrami County Historical Society. Taking up most of the space is their railroad layout permanent display that has been in the works for more than 20 years.
“The layout that you’re seeing here was part of the modular unit that was actually put together by the club before moving in to the basement of the depot,” said Northern Iron Horse Railroad Society Club Member Dave Hoefer. “And the modular units were moved down here and made a little more permanent.”
“There’s a rule in modern railroading,” said Northern Iron Horse Railroad Society President Christopher Muller. “Your layout is never done and as soon as it is, you start making improvements you add on to it, you re-do something if you want to change the way that it looks. All you got to to is tear it apart and start over.”
During the event, the historical center was transformed with various displays of model trains, railroad layouts, and a large Lego train.
“My favorite part would definitely be the comradery and having like-minded people just to talk about trains and history, and the railroad operations in the Bemidji area has always been fascinating because a lot of people don’t realize is that Bemidji used to have five different railroads,” said Muller.
Today, there is only one active railroad that runs through Bemidji and only a few trains a day come through it. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad is now primarily used to move grains and coal, and it runs through the ports of Superior and Duluth.