Minnesota Railfan locations

Minnesota is a beautiful state with lots of railroad activity. I've only been to state once recently, on a family trip to International Falls.

International Falls Area
For a city of only 6,500 people, International Falls has a great deal of railroad activity due to two factors: the Boise paper plant and the nearby border crossing in Ranier, MN. Those are the two areas I would focus on for railfanning.

In International Falls, the activity rotates around the plant. There is a small yard and engine servicing facility for the MD&W (a shortline variously owned by Boise Cascade and other private companies), which switches the plant located on the east side of the town, by the Rainy River. See attached map of the area. There are lots of obvious viewing spots for trains.

Ranier, MN. This small town just east of International Falls boasts the second busiest rail port in the US, part of CN's system.
See attached map of the Ranier area. Good viewing areas include: downtown Ranier's rail intersection; views from the Canadian side of the bridge (bring your passport to cross); and the long interchange with the MD&W south of town (access by winding your way parallel to the railroad). There is also a large storage yard on highway 11 between IF and Ranier, with access road on the east side. This stores lots of used or newly used 50' boxcars for paper service.

Back to Railfan Locations page.

Menu Page