Midwestern Regional Railroads - 1930's - 1940's
Minnesota & International Railway
Big Fork & International Falls Railway


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The Minnesota & International Railway (M&I) and the Big Fork & International Falls Railway (BF&IF) were two short line railroads operating in the state of Minnesota from 1905 until 1942 when they were absorbed into the Northern Pacific. The M&I/BF&IF had predecessor railways going back as far as 1892; the Brainerd & Northern Minnesota Railway and the Big Fork & Northern Railway. The initial purpose of all these roads was to tap the cedar tree forests of Northern Minnesota and transport logs, pulp and lumber products to and from mills and industries along the lines and at International Falls and more southerly destinations through connections with the Northern Pacific at Brainerd, Minnesota. The M&I and BF&IF railways were under common management and ownership. The NP soon attained 70 % ownership but the roads operated independently with their own locomotives, rolling stock, stations, maintenance facilities, and records until 1941 when the NP purchased them outright. The M&I tracks ran from Brainerd on the NP north 258 miles to Grand Falls, with an 11 mile branch from Funkley to Kelliher. The BF&IF continued on another 31 miles from Grand Falls to International Falls. In the 1930's the M&I/BF&IF ran one passenger train daily between Brainerd and International Falls that included sleeping cars and coaches through to and from St. Paul and Minneapolis via NP and a coach traion between Little Falls (On the NP) through Brainerd to and from Kelliher. Passenger service continued after the NP takeover with the through service between the Twin Cities and International Falls lasting until the late 50's. Kerlliher branch service withered and was gone by 1950, with the branch shut down by the Burlington Northern in 1980.
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October 26, 1930

M&Imap
Minnesota & International Railway
Brainerd to Grand Galls
with branch to Kelliher
Big Fork & International Falls RailwayGrand Halls to International Falls

Short History of the Minnesota & International Railway (M&I)
and the Big Fork & International Falls Railway (BF&IF)

1892 - The Brainerd & Northern Minnesota Railway Company (B&NM) was chartered to build north drom Brainerd (on the Northern Pacific) to tap the cedar forests of Northern Minnesota.
1894 - The B&NM received court authority to build a railway through tghe Leach Lake Indian Reservation on July 6, 1894.
1901 -B&NM is now the Minnesota & International Railway (M&I) reflecting tyhe plans to reach International Falls.
cir 1905 - The M&I crossed the Battle River on a bridge and Kelliher was reached using a branch running over this bridge and into town.
1905 - On February 18, 1905 the Big Fork & Northern Railway (BF&N) is chartered to run north from Nordhouse.
1905 - BF&N tracks reach Gemmell, the Cedar Cap[ital of the Americas, some 146 miles north of Brainerd. Gemmell has many lumber mills. Gemmell was first known as Stoner. The name was later changed to Gemmell in honor of W. H. Gemmell. He was the first roadmaster of the M&I.
1905 - On December 18, 1905 the M&I leased the 31.8 mile BF&N and it began operations a day later.
1906 - The Big Fork and International Falls Railway (BF&IF) was incorporated on December 29, 1906. Its mission was to construct railroad between the Big Fork River and International Falls.
1907 - The M&I and NF&IF are identified as separate railroads but withj common ownership operation and control.
1907 - The M&I/BF&IF reached International Falls. where E.W. Backus, through the Minnesota and Ontario Paper Company, was beginning a vast paper mill complex at International falls and Fort Frances.
1913-23 - During this period the Northern Pacific Railway had obtained 70% ownership of M&I/BF&IF but the M&I/BF&IF operated independently with their own locomotives, rolling stock, stations, maintenance facilities and records.
1913-41 - The M&I.BF&IF and the Northern Pacific chatged freight rated independently from one another for pulp shipments on each line and were subject to law suits claiming they were all the same railroad and a single line rate should be lower. The railroaads won. 1930 - The M&I/BF&IF ran one passenger train daily between Brainerd and International Falls that included sleeping cars and coaches through to and from St. Paul and Minneapolis via NP and a coach train between Little Falls (On the NP) through Brainerd to and from Kelliher.
1941 - The M&I/BF&IF were purchased by the Northern Pacific Railway.
1942 - After the NP took over the Pullman sleeper and coach train between St. Paul-Minneapolis and International Falls continued. The train to Kelliher was cut back to a south terminal in Bemidji and was a mixed train.
1950 - The mixed train to Kelliher was discontinued by 1950.
late 1950's - The Pullman -coach train St. Paul to International Falls continued.
1960 - Line to International Falls is freight only.
11980 - The Kelliher branch was abandoned in 1980 by Burlington Northern
Our Sources
Private Collection of Richard R. Parks(rp)
Wikipedia the free Encyclopedia [web](wik)
Official Guide- various editions
Alberton Centennial Times April 5, 1978
Scott J. Winslow Associates, Inc.
LakesnWoods.com
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Copyright Richard Parks, August 13, 2009