Seventy-six years ago this week, the Milwaukee Road introduced high-speed rail service between Minneapolis and Chicago. The Hiawatha line used steam locomotives at first, transitioning to diesels in the 1940s. The trip took as little as seven hours, with speeds topping 100 mph. Below are a few photos of the Hiawatha, which made its last run in 1971.


The Star Journal’s caption didn’t offer much detail on this photo, aside from Miss Lowell’s home address, 1808 Emerson Av. S. Fortunately, the Milwaukee Road’s official magazine used the image on the cover of its October 1941 issue and treated readers to this wonderfully detailed caption:

Just prior to the departure of the new 4,000 h.p. Diesel electric Hiawatha locomotive from Minneapolis on train No. 6 Sept. 20, the locomotive was christened by Miss Janet Lowell, the only feminine member of the Twin City chapter of the Diesel Locomotive Fans Association. Arrangements for the christening were made by A.F. Dredge Jr. of Minneapolis, president of the chapter; the entire membership was in attendance. Used in the christening ceremony was a bottle of water taken from nearby Minnehaha Falls where, according to Longfellow, Hiawatha wooed and won his Laughing Water. To make certain that the Diesel fan who fetched the water actually got it from the Minnehaha Falls and not from the hydrant in his own back yard, the very exacting Diesel Locomotive Fans Association required him to sign an affidavit indicating that he went, dipped, and returned.

Shown at the ceremony are, left to right: Miss Lowell; D.T. Bagnell, superintendent of the LaCrosse & River Division; and E.F. Conway, captain of police, Minneapolis; the men at the right of the picture are, left to right: Carl Frank, electrician; M.S. Huber, locomotive engineer; and William Sukau, maintainer for the Electro-Motive Corporation.


Interior of a Hiawatha dining car in about 1935. (Photo courtesy


A fireman at the controls of a Hiawatha steam locomotive in about 1936. (Photo courtesy


A Hiawatha lounge-observation car at the Milwaukee Road Depot, Minneapolis, 1948. (Star Journal photo)


Interior of the lounge car, complete with fresh-cut flowers. (Star Journal photo)

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