Todd and Jim's Railfan Guide to

In General


In General

Location / Name:
Albert Lea, Minnesota

What's Here:
Small UP yard.
Diamond crossing with tower (tower closed).
Two vintage depots.

The Scoop:

Updated Feb 2014

Years ago, Albert Lea had a lot of railroading for it's size.  Now, it's pretty quiet, with a small UP yard on the northeast side of town.  The tower in the pictures below is closed, and the signals there are typical of how railroads now protect crossings with other railroads. 

The Union Pacific trackage used to belong to the CNW, and the IC&E was formerly the Milwaukee (and then SOO).  I need to do further research into the lineage for the DM&E/UP's track heading NW out of town, after it was the M&StL.  If anyone knows and wants to share, please email me.

Update Feb 2014 - The M&StL / UP N-S line was vacated several years ago (in 2011) and all trackage has been removed.  It was vacated as far as the grain elevator (pictured at the bottom of the page) which is now served from the North only through Waseca.  This eliminated the western diamond on Front St and the junction on the south side as well.   Jim Mihalek provided a link to an article on the change: http://www.albertleatribune.com/2011/11/a-future-trail/

My pictures were taken in October of 2006 on a field trip with Jim M and Mike Miller.  Jim's pictures are more recent from 2009. 

This page originally just covered the eastern diamond, but has since grown into a guide for the whole town.  If you're scooting by on the interstates 35 or 90, it's well worth a stop since it's so close.  Mason City Iowa isn't too far away either, and is a favorite railfan spot because of Iowa Traction.

The Lakeside Cafe comes highly recommended.  Update February 2014 - The Lakeside Cafe is closed, and there is no substitute for their menu of fresh baked goods and sandwiches. :-(  :-(  Michael suggest either the B&B Cafe and/or The Elbow Room if you are looking for non-chain meals. 

Out of the map services from Google, Bing, and Mapquest, Mapquest had the best satellite photos of Albert Lea when I originally did this page, but in 2013, Google has some terrific satellite photos of Albert Lea, as seen below.   I left the Mapquest map here, because it labels the railroads!

Jim Mihalek - Information and pictures
Mike Miller - Information.
Michael Johannsen - 2014 Update!

Access by train/transit:


Websites and other additional information sources of interest for the area:
Here's a couple of links provided by Jim:
Cool stuff on Albert Lea: http://www.cashgroth.com/depots/depalbertlea.html

Info from the CNW Historical Society: http://www.cnwhs.org/archives_maps.htm

Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit is always given! Contact info is here


My map is available HERE as a PDF.


     1          The Union Pacific Yard

GPS Coordinates: 43.64939, -93.361977 (Get's you near the yard office)

     2          The eastern Diamond between the IC&E and the UP

GPS Coordinates: 43.645214, -93.367331

Picture of the CRI&P tower by Frank G, Fink of Lake Crystal MN, dated 17JUN1973, courtesy Jim Mihalek


     1        Signal on the west side of Newton


     2        Signals on the east side of Newton and at the diamond


     3          The ex Milwaukee Depot

GPS Coordinates: 43.644744,-93.369493


     4          The ex M&StL Depot

GPS Coordinates: 43.647356,-93.376145


     5          The western Diamond between the IC&E and the UP

GPS Coordinates: 43.644018, -93.375426

The diamond was easily accessible from Front St.  NOTE:  As of around 2012, this diamond was removed. :-(


Left - looking south...... right - looking north across the diamond with the M&StL depot in the distance.  Photos - a big thanks to Jim Mihalek

  Photo by Kevin Klitzke
Above - we're looking in the same direction as the right picture above, circa 2003, picture via Jim from the FB Minnesota RR group.

     4        Looking east with the simple diamond crossing protection signal, there is also one for the N-S UP track.

   photo courtesy Jim Mihalek

  As of January 2016

As of January 2016

As of January 2016

     6          The UP junction on the south side

GPS Coordinates: 43.636809, -93.368452

This is where the Rock Island and the M&StL joined up.  Thanks to Jim Mihalek for the pictures of the junction from 2004.

NOTE:  As of (around) 2012, this switch was removed and nothing remains.

The pictures below come from the Albert Lea Tribune article linked above.
I'm guessing the trestle pictured is the last bridge on the UP list.....



     5        The EB Distant Signal at Front St.

   photo courtesy Jim Mihalek

The grain tower that the DM&E services, a little north of Albert Lea

Note: As of 2012, this facility is now being serviced from the north, and the tracks south of here have been torn up.

   photo courtesy Jim Mihalek

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