Kasimir Rice & his crew


The Soo Line was the Heart of Anamoose
by Helen Nolden

Soo Line Depot and Elevator 1928

In researching Anamoose, I found our city came into existence because of the Soo Line Railroad.

The Soo Line Railroad Co. ran from Sault Ste Marie, Canada, through Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota. There were some lines that ran as far south as Missouri and Kentucky. It was the northern route that gave us Anamoose.

The main line, built in 1893, from Harvey to Portal is 154 miles. The section house was the first building in Anamoose. It served as the home for William McNamara, section foreman, and his family. During those early years, it was the eating-place for the railroad crew, a hotel for the workers, and a café. The house has been moved back to its present location. The William Vetch family resides there today.

When the Soo Line built these homes along the line, they painted them a bright yellow with red trim to match to depots. This building served as the home of the Rice family for many years.

The Soo Line hired about 20 Chippewa to build their railroad. At lunch, these men gave food scraps to a little dog that hung around. They called him “An-I-Mosh which simply means dog. The other workers started calling him An-I-Mosh, too.

Soo Line Engine

When it came time to name our town, the story about the dog was brought to the attention of the railroad president’s daughter who had the honor of naming some of the cities. She liked the story and named the city Anamoose, her loose pronunciation of the Chippewa word.

Mrs. Albert Glotzbach came to Anamoose in 1901. She told me early that year more freight was unloaded here than at any other station between St. Paul and Minot.

In the twenties, our town boasted 800 residents. The Soo Line sent four passenger trains through daily. All of them carried mail.

The Soo Line promoted the communities along their tracks out East. Full-page ads were taken to sell the bounties of towns like Anamoose.

In 1917, J.S. Murphy, one of Soo Line’s immigration officers, wrote that Anamoose was located in a picturesque valley, 412 miles northwest of Minneapolis. He described a beautiful lake south of the city.

Everything that was shipped out of Anamoose such as mail, eggs, grain, cream, packages, and passengers came and left by train. It was the Soo Line Railroad that supplied the gel that held the communities together as they emerged as cities.

For over 60 years the Soo Line was the heart of Anamoose. However, that dependence is, now, part of history. They retired the last steam engines in 1953 when diesel engines were put in place.

Passenger trains were retired in 1962. The small town depots began closing at the same time as they began co-oping several towns under one depot agent.

The Speeder (motor car) was put out to pasture in 1982, replaced by pickups and trucks.

The Canadian Pacific (formerly Soo Line) still runs many freight trains through here, but I miss the sound of the little local passenger steam engines puffing into town, stopping to unload the mail and, perhaps, a few passengers.

As kids we would play near the tracks. The engineer would give us a blast of steam, which was cool by the time it hit us. We laughed and screamed.

I miss seeing the dining cars fly by and the quiet of Pullman cars.

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