Tourist train set turnout records in 2021

After a record-setting season, the Osceola & St. Croix Valley Railway will be back for another five years.

Minnesota Transportation Museum has announced it has signed a new five-year trackage rights agreement with Canadian National railroad to continue operating the popular Osceola tourist trains. 

“It has been a remarkably good partnership for us (with Canadian National),” MTM Executive Director Scott Hippert said of the new agreement. “It is a vote of confidence in what we’re doing.”

The museum also announced, via its monthly volunteer newsletter, The Semaphore, that after not running trains in 2020 due to COVID-19, the railway hosted an all-time high of 22,847 passengers. That number included more than 10,000 passengers during the month of October, for the fall colors-viewing trips to Marine on St. Croix, and the Osceola-to-Dresser Pumpkin Express trains.

Hippert credited an advertising grant from Travel Wisconsin for helping to push the record turnout by promoting the tourist train on Twin Cities television stations.

With the new trackage lease in place, Hippert said the Osceola railway is looking to expand its operations in 2022 and beyond, possibly bringing back its afternoon brunch trains or partnering with local wineries to host wine-tasting trains.

“MTM is grateful for the partnerships we have with the Osceola and Dresser communities for making this a tremendous season,” Hippert said.

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