Original Owner: Chester Pennington
Pennington was president of the Soo Line Railroad, 1909-1922
Photo: courtesy Minnesota Historical Society
The Soo Line Railroad was named for the fact that it went through Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. The original branch was built east from Minneapolis through Wisconsin, Upper Michigan, and Ontario -- and then back into the U.S. This was a way to deliver Minneapolis flour, lumber, and other products to East Coast markets without going through Chicago, where a powerful rail cartel had set artificially high freight prices. The Soo Line also built toward the west and north into Minnesota and the Dakotas in order to bring wheat to the Minneapolis mills. The Soo Line was built by the partnership of William Drew Washburn, Thomas Lowry, Clinton Morrison, C. M. Loring, W. W. Eastman, Charles Pillsbury, and others in collaboration with officials of Canadian railroad lines.. The first train left Minneapolis for Sault Ste. Marie in 1883.