More Train Doors

Welcome to Thursday Doors! This is a weekly challenge for people who love doors and architecture to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos, drawings, or other images or stories from around the world. If you’d like to join us, simply create your own Thursday Doors post each (or any) week and then share a link to your post in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time). If you like, you can add our badge to your post.

Today’s gallery includes photos of three different railroad museum assets. A US Post Office Railroad Post Office, an articulated locomotive and a caboose.

The railroad post office is interesting to me because the interior is reminiscent of the sorting station inside the Post Office in which I worked for three summers and numerous holiday breaks while I was in college. Although I’m sure it looks primitive, it was actually a very effective way of sorting the mail. The individual bags and slots represented cities and towns the mail was likely to move to next. In addition to the next local towns, there would be a bag or two that would be sorted further once dropped at the next post office. Sorting in this manner extracted the mail that could be delivered at the next stop.

The caboose is interesting because it shows a little of the life of the conductor to whom the caboose was assigned as his office and his home. In the days before air brakes and automated signals at grade-level crossings, the caboose also carried the brakeman and the flagman. The brakeman could slow the train by setting the brakes on a car and then moving to the next car and setting its brakes and so on and so forth along the string of cars. The flagman would exit the train, proceed to the crossing, ignite flares to stop traffic. As the train passed, the flagman would enter the caboose. I am old enough to remember when flagmen were common. Also, we have an industrial grade-level crossing in the town in which I live where I saw a flagman in 2019.

The articulated locomotive is a fascinating piece of equipment. Rather than paraphrase the information provided at the museum, or force you to squint and try to read the images, I transcribed the plaques shown in the photos below the next two sections.

DM&IR number 227 was one of 18 articulated locomotives nuilt by Baldwim Locomotive Works for the Missabe Road during World War II. During its 20 years of operating life the 227 hauled 40 million long tons of iron ore from the mines on the Mesabi and Vermillion Ranges to the docks at Duluth and Two Harbors.

Weighing 566 tons and stretching 128 feet in length, the 227 is one of the largest and most powerful steam locomotives ever constructed. Capable of developing 6,000 drawbar horsepower, it made routine work of handling 180-190 car ore trains weighing more than 18,000 tons. When working at foll power, it consumed 10-12 tons of coal an hour and evaporated water into steam at the rates of 12,000 gallons an hour. The amount of coal the engine used in one hour would be enough to heat a home for two winters. The engine is fired by a steam powered stoker since it would not be possible to shovel coal fast enough (350 lbs a minute) or to spread it evenly on the 108 square feet of grate surface.

Number 227 was restored for the museum through the efforts of the DM&IR Veteran Employees Association which contributed is excess of $8,000 toward the project. The DM&IR matched that contribution, performed all restoration, and donated the locomotive to the museum.

Lake Superior Railroad Museum

DM&IR 227 is an articulated locomotive; meaning that there are two engines hinged together beneath a single boiler. The articulated evolved because engines with four, five or six coupled axles became more and mote difficult to build. By hinging the driving wheels in two sets, a much larger and more powerful locomotive was built that could more easily travel through curves.

The boiler was attached to the rear engine enabling the front engine (in the shaded box in the image on the right below) to pivot freely from side to side. The bolier rests on a sliding plate which transfers part of the weight to the front engine. Due to the lateral wanderings of the front engine, the boiler would swing far to the outside of curves (see photo on right below).

Lake Superior Railroad Museum

Thanks for visiting. I hope you enjoy the gallery below and I hope you will visit the posts by the other participants.

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  1. It’s after 11pm here and storming outside, and I cannot sleep, so let’s see who’s up. Dan’s here!!
    The interior of the mail sorting car is oddly similar to the way we sorted mail at one of my very first jobs. I didn’t work in the mail room but all employees had to visit it certain times of day to pick up the mail for your department head. Then we got current–and the mail person not only sorted the mail, but was provided a cart to walk around the building and drop it on each desk. Progress, right?!
    I had no idea what the inside of a caboose looks like, but this was not what I thought. It’s pretty darn cozy. The brakeman’s job…whew, he had a lot depending on him. Very interesting photos, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the exposed elements make these locomotives even more fascinating. You can look and wonder what each valve did and what each dial meant. I’ve seen cabooses that had bunks for four people. You would climb through them to get into the cupola for viewing the train. The history of the caboose is interesting. Sadly, they phased them out for the vast majority of trains. Now when I travel by train, the crew hangs out in the Cafe car when they’re not working.

      I enjoyed your post, and I was happy to see a train door there as well.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I enjoy traveling by train. I’ve never gone far enough to need to sleep – I hope to someday – but the sounds and the feeling of being on a train is special.

      You brought us a nice collection of doors today. Thanks!


    • They made very good use of the space. The caboose was interesting. The conductor had a lot of paperwork to do on a freight train, as each car had a separate manifest and might be going to.a different destination than the other cars. I guess it was sort of a just-in-time approach to processing the information.

      I liked your doors, especially the sax playing bird.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Manja. The podcast was a lot of fun, as is Thursday Doors. I’m always amazed by the doors you share with us, but I also like the views you included these past two weeks. I did have fun touring this museum. The railroads and the shipping on the Great Lakes played such an important role in the short history of the country. I am always thrilled when I see some of that history preserved and explained.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like the looks of the sorting room. I would feel very comfortable working in a place like that.
    I remember as a child watching the trains go by, counting the cars, waving to the men in the caboose. Now I know why there was more than one.
    Great atmosphere in this photos. Definitely returns me to my childhood. (K)

    I’ve got Halloween doors this week

    A Bit of Color:  Halloween Doors

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You had me at the caboose. Looks amazingly comfortable and functional. The maintenance on these trains is unbelievable. The poor brakeman. That job wasn’t for the faint of heart.

    You captured some really interesting pictures Dan. It’s mind-blowing to consider the cooperative teamwork it took to run these trains, to maintain them, and to do it successfully. “Teamwork”…. now there’s a term you don’t often hear in today’s world.

    I bet whoever came up with the idea of single-wide mobile homes, got that idea from train cars!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t that caboose cool? I love to travel across country in a caboose like that. I’d even do some work if they wanted. The brakeman? Yeah that had to be a tough job, especially with boxcars where he had to go up, over and down. I would imagine those guys were in good shape.

      Teamwork? That’s a tough sell these days.

      I hope you’re enjoying a break in the stormy weather. It doesn’t look like it’s going to last.


  4. I love the closer look at the inside of the mail room and especially the caboose. For some reason when I was a child I loved to see the caboose and if I could, I’d always wave at the men inside (or outside on the back platform.) I grew up in Omaha, which was a stop on the Union Pacific line to San Francisco. We took the train a few times to California to visit my mom’s side of the family. I especially loved being able to sit in the dome car and see the mountains when we got to Colorado.

    I have an eclectic trio for today:


    Liked by 1 person

    • Seeing the caboose was always fun, and I also waved at the men on the back. I’d love to take a train through the mountains.

      I enjoyed the doors you shared today, Janet. An interesting mix, indeed.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, that’s a lot of coal to use in one hour. I can see why steam engines where retired but they’re gorgeous compared to what we have today. That caboose is so cosy. Definitely better working conditions than the miners who had to supply the coal.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have always found trains to be romantic and mysterious. Of course, I am talking about the old trains. The ones with the wood and the brass, beautiful doors and uncomfortable seats. Such beauty belongs to another era and I miss it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know – that’s a lot of coal. The other interesting thing about it is that there are no coal mines in Minnesota. The coal itself had to be transported into the region.

      I liked your post, too. It’s always nice to see bits f history preserved.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I loved your comment that trains take us places even when they’re not moving. What marvels they were, and how we dreaded them if we needed to get somewhere on time! As I looked at these photos, it occurred to me that maybe you’d be interested in a piece of my family history. If you google my dad’s name, Maurice D. O’Hern, one of the things that will pop up is the Official Gazette of the U.S. Patent Office, Volume 651, wherein my dad’s Slack Adjustor is illustrated. My understanding was that it was used between railroad cars, but in 1951 I didn’t care a whole lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you would have been as amazed as I was, Cee. They had so many old trains. Between the mechanical wonders and the interior of some of the coaches, I’m not sure whether I’d want to run the train or ride on it.

      Great Halloween doors – thanks!


    • Thanks Natalie. I was taken by how much work went into the post office. The boiler just makes me wonder. All those dials, valves and levers do something. I wonder what.

      Your doors were very special this week. I really enjoyed your post.


  8. What a treat! Thank you, Dan. I can see why the mail sorting car is like the sorting section at the post office where you worked. That must have been special to be there in the car. Super post, Dan! Trains are always the best.

    Liked by 1 person

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