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More options for those who visit Two Harbors by train

First it was steam engines. Then Sunday runs. Bit by bit, the North Shore Scenic Railroad and Two Harbors Area Chamber of Commerce are trying to increase the number of passengers on the summer excursion train that runs from Duluth to Two Harbors ...

Scenic Railroad
A train arrives at the Depot in Duluth to pick up passengers for a ride along the North Shore Scenic Railroad. (2008 file / News Tribune)

First it was steam engines. Then Sunday runs. Bit by bit, the North Shore Scenic Railroad and Two Harbors Area Chamber of Commerce are trying to increase the number of passengers on the summer excursion train that runs from Duluth to Two Harbors and back.

This year, there will be an on-train guide to talk about area history and attractions, more people greeting passengers at the Two Harbors Depot and a Gooseberry Falls State Park option during the two-hour layover in the city.

Those were the plans outlined to city business owners Wednesday by Ken Buehler from the Scenic Railroad.

"The goal is to bring people into Two Harbors, show them around and hope they come back for a future visit," he told a group of more than 20 people at the Moose Lodge.

Trains will arrive in Two Harbors about noon beginning Memorial Day weekend and run into October. Passengers generally have two hours to explore the harbor area, downtown or get on a bus and visit Seventh Avenue. This year, there will be another bus taking groups up Highway 61 to Gooseberry Falls.

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Meanwhile, riders will see little change on the Duluth end.

"We try to keep the attraction fresh, but nothing has really changed as far as the way we will handle stuff," said Buehler, executive director of the Historic Union Depot Corp., which manages the old Duluth Depot.

Some outdoor seating will be added for people who are waiting to take the scenic train and the museum will have some new exhibits, including the Smithsonian exhibit "Portraits" in June and July, which features National Geographic portraits from around the world.

Last year, about 8,000 people took the 25-mile train ride to Two Harbors. Scenic Railroad added a Sunday run to accommodate people staying at resorts for a whole weekend. It will do that again beginning July 3.

Steam trains that hearken to the past also have been popular. They will run for four weeks beginning in late August.

Beuhler said the guide, who would hop the train in Larsmont, would have great knowledge of the area and work with the Lake County Historical Society to provide a unique perspective on what riders can expect in town.

The historical society, which runs its museum out of the Two Harbors Depot, will periodically have people on the platform greeting passengers in historic character roles. There also are plans to have musicians play, such as a jazz group from the high school.

The visit to Gooseberry would last about 40 minutes. In the past, buses have taken people up Highway 61 a few miles from the city to Betty's Pies or some resorts.

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While the summer schedule is set, Beuhler told business owners that trains could be shuffled around next year to allow a longer layover in Two Harbors. People have been rushed, business owners said.

News Tribune staff writer Candace Renalls contributed to this report.

Related Topics: TOURISMTWO HARBORS
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