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Railroad Days Returns to Two Harbors

September 24th saw nearly 1,000 people visit Burlington Station in Two Harbors to celebrate Railroad Days. “Railroad Days used to be an event held each year in August to celebrate the history of the Railroad [in Two Harbors],” explained Callie Swanson, owner of Callie’s Sweets, one of the event sponsors. “This event hadn’t been held for quite a few years, and so in 2021 we decided to bring the event back.

” Why was the railroad so important to Two Harbors? If iron ore hadn’t been discovered near Two Harbors, the town would not exist. The Minnesota Iron Company purchased 17,000 acres of land near what is now Two Harbors to build their railroad track back in the 1800s. Agate Bay was chosen for the railroad terminus and shipping port due to its location near the iron ore site and the fact that Agate Bay has a clay bottom, whereas other considered locations had a rocky bottom.

During the building of the railroad, the contractor, John S. Wolfe, was offered a bonus of $50,000 if the railroad was completed by the first of August, 1884. However, August 1st that year fell on a Friday, and due to the construction workers’ superstitions about Fridays, Wolfe realized he had to get the railroad completed on Thursday, July 31. Early in the morning on July 31st, the first iron ore cars left Agate Bay, inaugurating the first day that would lead to 80 years of Two Harbors railroading.

This year’s Railroad Days featured various outdoor activities such as bouncy houses, human foosball, giveaways, trackless train rides, an obstacle course, and face painting. The Two Harbors Farmers’ Market, which customarily meets in the Burlington Station parking lot on Saturdays, was on hand.

Inside the Station, there was a scavenger hunt with six destinations to find: a train that played a famous part in Two Harbors’ history, a postcard depicting Burlington Station, a type of ship that ships hundreds of thousands of tons of ore, the grandmothers of the owners of Burlington Station, the name of the village that inspired Burlington Station, and the number of Northern Soda flavors at Callie’s Sweets. Everyone who completed the scavenger hunt won a free cup of coffee or hot cocoa.

Attendees went home with giveaway items as well – engineer hats, train whistles, Railroad Days buttons, and build-your-own candy train kits.

Bo Allen, T.H.U.G., and Todd Eckhard provided live entertainment for the 2022 Railroad Days.

Railroad Days was sponsored by Lovin’ Lake County, Burlington Station, and Callie’s Sweets. Callie Swanson commented about the event, “We loved hearing the great feedback from people on how much they loved the event, and are looking forward to continuing this event each year.”

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