Omaha Railroad Shops

Constructed beginning in the late 1800’s, the railroad shops of the Chicago, St Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway (the “Omaha”) at Randolph and Toronto Streets employed nearly 1,000 workers for the first half of the 20th century. The West End construction project represented a major expansion of the Omaha’s operations in St Paul. The shops maintained locomotives and other rolling equipment, and constructed railcars, primarily wooden boxcars. The machine shop, erected in 1899, was built for $22,000, the equivalent of over half a million dollars today.

Other major buildings were the blacksmith and boiler shops, and the locomotive roundhouse. Just down the hill from the Omaha’s shops, accessed by a double tracked spur (or vice versa, depending on your perspective) was the Omaha’s Western Avenue switching yards, containing about 27 tracks until just a few years ago, when Shephard Road was re-routed through, eliminating all but about 6 tracks.

Railroad shopworkers belonged to a variety of craft unions ranging from blacksmiths to laborers to car repairers. The journeymen machinists, enrolled in the International Association of Machinists, were the largest labor organization in the railroad shops. In 1922, railroad shopcraft workers, numbering about half a million nationwide, went on strike against wage cuts. The strike lasted six months and ended in defeat. Hundreds of Twin City shopcraft workers were blacklisted and the unions eliminated from the shops, not to return until the labor upsurge of the 1930’s.

Images

Storm damage at the "Omaha"

Storm damage at the "Omaha"

Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railroad roundhouse. Photographer: Minneapolis Star Journal Tribune Date: September 4, 1941 Image courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Randolph Street Shops, Interior

Randolph Street Shops, Interior

Of the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railroad. Photographer: St. Paul Dispatch & Pioneer Press Date: August 8, 1950 Image courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Henry Finehout

Henry Finehout

A conductor on the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railroad. Photographer: Charles A. Zimmerman Date: Approximately 1900 Image courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Omaha Railway Randolph Street Shops

Omaha Railway Randolph Street Shops

Date: 2013 Photo by: Dave Riehle View File Details Page

Train approaching Mendota

Train approaching Mendota

Over the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Bridge Date: March 14, 1912 Image courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Woman's St. Paul Winter Carnival ensemble

Woman's St. Paul Winter Carnival ensemble

Red wool coat worm by Clara Aufenast Richter, a clerk for the St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway. Date: 1916-17 Image courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Chicago Northwestern Railroad Shops

Chicago Northwestern Railroad Shops

Smokestack and buildings. Date: 1957 Image courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Omaha Building

Omaha Building

- 275 East Fourth Street - Photographer: Hibbard Studio Date: November, 1928 Image courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway freight yards

Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway freight yards

Looking east from Ancker Hospital; the Omaha Railway freight yards pictured at right. Date: 1924 Image courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Abandoned Omaha railroad roundhouse

Abandoned Omaha railroad roundhouse

Photographer: Henry Benbrooke Hall Date: 1960 View File Details Page

Former Edgar Blasdell residence

Former Edgar Blasdell residence

- 808 W Tuscarora - Edgar Blasdell was a locomotive fireman for the Omaha Railway. The house was built in 1885. Date: 2013 Photo by: Dave Riehle View File Details Page

Rooming House

Rooming House

- 963 W 7th Street - Former home of William Brady, an engineer for the Omaha Railway. Date: 2013 Photo by: Dave Riehle View File Details Page

Former home of Daniel Bornarth

Former home of Daniel Bornarth

- 743 W Armstrong - Daniel Bornarth was was a locomotive engineer for the Omaha Railway. Date: 2013 Photo by: Dave Riehle View File Details Page

Former home of Harry Blasdell

Former home of Harry Blasdell

- 385 Toronto - Harry Blasdell was a helper for the Omaha Railway. Date: 2013 Photo by: Dave Riehle View File Details Page

Omaha Railroad Crew

Omaha Railroad Crew

Date: Approximately 1910 Image Credit: Dave Riehle, personal collection View File Details Page

John Brewer Home

John Brewer Home

Brewer worked as a locomotive fireman for the Omaha Railroad and lived at 720 W. Armstrong (built in 1886). Date: September, 2013 Photo by: Kimmy Tanaka View File Details Page

John Bluell Home

John Bluell Home

Bluell was a car repairer for the Omaha Railroad who lived at 699 Butternut (built in 1889). Date: September, 2013 Photo by: Kimmy Tanaka View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Dave Riehle, “Omaha Railroad Shops,” Saint Paul Historical, accessed May 23, 2017, http://saintpaulhistorical.com/items/show/243.

Subjects

Share this Story