The Duluth & Iron Range Railroad hired Duluth architect Peter Olson to build the company’s headquarters and passenger station overlooking the ore docks and rail yards on Lake Superior. Opening to the public in 1907, the Two Harbors Depot became the hub through which goods, services, and people traveled.
The company officially merged to become the Duluth, Missabe, and Iron Range Railroad in July 1938, moving headquarters South to Duluth. Passenger service continued at the Two Harbors Depot until July 15th, 1961 when the final passenger train departed the station for Duluth. The Society opened its first museum in the building in 1960, expanding displays into the entire first floor in 1984 with the celebration of the centennial of iron ore shipping from Agate Bay.
With 4,000 feet of exhibit space, the Depot Museum continues to share the past and present culture of the county.
In 1923, the 3 spot display was unveiled next to the Duluth & Iron Range Depot. The first engine purchased by the Duluth & Iron Range Railroad for $9,750, this small engine was enlisted to lay 68 miles of track from Agate Bay to Soudan. Transported to the bay by a scow, towed by the tug Ella G. Stone, the 3 spot arrived at Agate Bay August 29th, 1883. A lightweight locomotive fueled by wood, it transported materials, goods, and people to build the railroad linking rich iron ore deposits near Lake Vermillion to the newly established port on Lake Superior.
In 1899, the company sold the 3 spot to the Alger Smith Logging Company’s Duluth and Northern Minnesota Railroad. Based out of Knife River, the company re-numbered the engine to number 2 and used it to haul logs. After being transferred to several different companies, the engine was found in a Duluth scrap yard. The 30 year veterans Club of the Duluth and Iron Range Railroad convinced the scrap yard owner to sell the engine to the club. It was restored by workers in the Two Harbors railroad shops.
Most recently, it was restored in 2005 with a grant from the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Lake County. Visit the 3 Spot, on display next to the Depot Museum.
May 28th, 1965 one of the largest ever built joined the 3 Spot next to the Two Harbors Depot. Built in 1943 to haul long trains of ore between the Iron Range, Two Harbors, and Proctor, the first few years of its life were devoted to hauling supplies cross-country for the war effort. It was donated to the Lake County Historical Society in 1969 by the Duluth Missabe & Iron Range and placed on perpetual display next to the Depot. It was restored in 2011 with a federal transportation enhancement grant administered through MNDOT supervised by the Lake County Highway Department. Also funded in part through grants from the Minnesota Historical Society’s State Grants-in-Aid program and the Marvin P. Verhulst Foundation.