The Minnesota Zephyr has left the station.
A crew from Savage Heavy Haul, Inc. moved two of Stillwater's famed 60-ton dining cars through downtown by the dark of night.
The move began at 3 a.m. Thursday and went perfectly. After making a sharp turn from Mulberry onto Main Street, the dining cars weaved their way through stop lights on 13-axel flatbed trailers.
Check back later today for video of the move.
The dining cars will be stored at Andersen Windows in Bayport. For those who are curious, the railroad cars went over the bridge into Bayport, not under it.
The move was initially set to start Wednesday, but was canceled because contracts weren't in place, Zephyr owner David Paradeau said Wednesday morning.
"We had a few problems that we're still working out," Paradeau said. "We need to put together contracts for insurance, safety and security issues once the cars are moved.”
In all, six dining cars and two locomotives will be moved.
Moving crews have repeatedly said it is their understanding that once the railroad cars leave Stillwater the plan is to move them to Oregon.
Paradeau has not said where the cars will be moved and says the railroad cars have yet to be sold.
So what does an operation like the one to move the Zephyr from Stillwater cost?
“Tons,” Paradeau said. “It is massive. There is a combination of stuff I can’t really be privileged to get into, but there are banks and stuff helping me fund this. It’s massive. More than anyone can imagine—and that’s just to move it.”
The 5.9-mile train corridor was purchased by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on Feb. 16 for $4.25 million. The Zephyr rail will eventually become the Browns Creek Trail.