visit the depot & caboose

If you're passing through on the way to the lake or looking for an interesting visit, please consider stopping by! The depot and the caboose are located right on Hwy 371 in downtown Pine River.
They are conveniently located next to the Pine River Chamber of Commerce building which has restrooms and travel information for visitors. Bicyclists are also encouraged to visit as the famous Paul Bunyan Bike Trail runs right next the depot.

the pine river depot

Railroads, Logging, & Homesteading

The historic Pine River Depot tells the story of the greater Pine River Area–the history of the depot itself, the railway, logging around the area, Pine River’s main-street, area resorts and the people that made Pine River what it is today–from Indian trail through current multi-use recreational Paul Bunyan Trail. The railroad, when built in 1894, opened much of north central Minnesota to logging, provided access to and settlement of the area, and accounted for the development of many area communities such as Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Jenkins, Pine River, Backus, and Hackensack.

The depot has been, and will continue to be, a highly visible, recognizable and historic Pine River landmark. The original depot building was built in 1895, with various additions and alterations thereafter until about 1913. Since 1913 it has remained essentially unchanged–except for the removal of the canopy over the open-air waiting area that extended off the south end of the building.

A recently completed, $362,000 dollar restoration project has completely restored the depot to it’s 1913 appearance, including the reconstruction of the canopy. This restoration project has preserved an historic 115-year-old building, and helped preserve a significant piece of local history. Minnesota’s State Historic Preservation Office validated the depot’s historical significance, when it determined in 2001, that the Pine River Depot was eligible for listing on the prestigious National Register of Historic Places. This is the only property in Pine River to ever receive this designation.

Heritage Group North, Inc. has worked to convert the freight room into a display area and interpretive center. The interpretive center will be used to tell the story related to the history of the former railway, the depot and how they related to the history of the greater Pine River area.

(The image in the background is from 1924 and shows the depot’s station workers during a typical day of working for the railroad. )





The depot and interpretive center within are open for tours during the summer months in conjunction with the PR Farmer’s Market

Fridays 2:00pm - 5:00pm

Memorial Day - Labor Day

Schedule subject to change & volunteer availability

Pine River Depot Photos

Click a photo to enlarge

the caboose

The caboose is most likely DM&IR 187. the D&IR had a few of these long (for that time period) cabooses built in 1887. At that time they were longer than the standard 4-wheel caboose being used on the railroad. Their orginal numbers would have been D&IR 87 and 89. After the merger of the D&IR and DM&N into the DM&IR in 1927 they were renumbered by placing a one in front of their number – e.g. #87 became #187, etc.At that time they were give class number K-3. D&IR did not use class numbers for their freight equipment, but since the DM&N did and they were running the show, they were provided class numbers. At some time likely in the 1940s, the DM&IR changed their reporting marks (the letters used on their freight cars to identify the railroad) from DM&IR to DMIR.

Mesabi’s railroad archive lists K-3 cabooses 181, 184, 185, 187, 188 and 189. They have photos of 184, 187 and 189

The photos show a small window on the end shown on the left of the photos of 184 and 189, but not on 187. There is not such a window on the caboose at Pine River.

Caboose 184 was retired in 1947 while the Pine River caboose was in use as late as 1960.

When built originally, these cabooses were brick red – a very dark red– with gold leaf lettering. The 1920s saw a change to lighter mineral red with white lettering; then in 1937, another change to yellow with black lettering. In the 1950s, lettering changed to vermillion on some equipment.

Caboose Photos