I'll be travelling on business to Eden Prairie MN. I will have an hour or two one afternoon and saw a rail line goes through Eden Prairie. Can anyone shed light on frequency of trains or other close areas to railfan?

Thanks in advance


Original Post

That's the old Minneapolis & St. Louis, on its line that went from Minneapolis, down through Albert Lea, and - ultimately - to Peoria, Illinois.

In my limited experience, the best railfanning is over in St. Paul between the bluffs and the river.  BNSF and CN (former CB&Q and Milwaukee Road, respectively) run quite a few trains through there.  There is a good bridge without much road traffic, over the BNSF Northtown Yard, that you can use for photography.  Over where the 261 group has its equipment, there is a wye.  Trains headed toward Willmar go west through Wayzata and trains for the Northwest (most of the traffic) go north.


Last edited by Number 90

Hi Tom. Thank you for your informative reply. I'll try to get over to St Paul for a couple hours.  

I like the idea of trying to catch both BNSF and CN. Two railroads we just dont get to see here in Rhode Island. 

Thanks again Tom


My old stomping grounds. Tom's on the right track. (Sorry) For some outstanding railfanning, head to downtown St. Paul, right down next to the Mississippi River, on Shepard Road. I've included a few maps as guides (roughly photographed, but you can check Google Maps for better images. Drive all along Shepard Road heading east, and it will turn into Warner Road, and then peel off onto Childs Road. Pretty soon you'll bump into a huge Canadian Pacific yard, the old Pig's Eye yard, below Dayton's Bluff. There's a UP yard next to it as well, but there's plenty of action to occupy you at the CP yard alone in the time you have available.

There are maintenance buildings, even a operational turntable for turning the diesels, and lots of engines and vast amounts of rolling stock. The yard goes on and on to the east. I've driven around the yard quite a number of times over the years, and never been stopped. Just use common sense and stay a reasonable distance from the tracks. When I first visited there, there were Soo Line, Wisconsin Central and a few Milwaukee Road engines on the property, plus a number of foreigners. Today you'll see mostly CP in a variety of schemes, but there will be other interesting engines hanging around as well. Google the yard - there are plenty of pictures and other information.

There's also a fantastic museum just north of downtown, the Jackson Street Roundhouse, but you'll probably need to save that for another time.


Images (4)
Last edited by breezinup

If you are visiting the Twin Cities, you are welcome to visit my home layout, but I live on the east side of the metro area. There really aren't any trains in Eden Prairie. The closest line is the TC&W which may run a couple trains a day max. You'll get very bored watching though.

Tom is referring to Dayton's Bluff, which is usually pretty busy as the BNSF, CP and UP all go through there. The problem is right now, the road is closed due to Mississippi river flooding. It should reopen in a week or two. 

The bridge at Northtown is a fun spot to watch the hump action. 

When are you going to be in town? Email me.

Last edited by Big_Boy_4005

Tom, actually the C&NW (ex M&StL) line you are referring to in Eden Prairie has been long abandoned and is now a trail. The only remaining tracks are the ex Milwaukee, Ortonville line, now TC&W.

Thanks for clarifying the track in Eden Prairie, Elliot.  I used a 1954 Official Guide for my info and must have overlooked the Milwaukee Road.  

Back in 1954, my uncle took us to a lake cottage out that way.  We crossed the M&StL and drove across a joint rail/highway gantlet bridge, which I believe was near Auto Club Jct.  I believe the railroad was the Minneapolis Northfield & Southern.  Do you know if that bridge is near where Paul is going and still in use?

In June, Friends of 261 are operating a steam trip and I would presume the engine will pass through Eden Prairie.

Yeah Tom, I think the TC&W just clips the corner of Eden Prairie. Yes it is the TC&W that hosts 261 these days, as Amtrak has really cramped their style.

I think the bridge you're referring to is still there and operational. The Dan Patch Bridge goes over the Minnesota River, and was part of the MN&S. The CP now own the MN&S tracks, but has spun off some of the operations to Progressive Rail. The bridge would have been closed by the CP, but the TC&W bought it. Wikipedia That's about 5 miles SE from Eden Prairie, but I'm not sure what the access is like. Very low activity there. That bridge may also be closed right now because of high water on the Minnesota. 

If you want something a little more up to date than 1954 in terms of a railway atlas, try this.

Last edited by Big_Boy_4005

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