Frogtown: Railroad Roots

Saint Paul’s status as the hub of transportation, goods and services for America’s Great Northwest was tied to the advent of railroads here. For more than 100 years, countless Frogtown residents provided the labor that kept railroads operating.

Today’s Great Northern Business Parks, Empire Builder Business Park and the Minnesota Transportation Museum are the remnants of what was once a vast area of rail and roundhouse facilities, a foundry and suppliers for the railroads. The promise of jobs for the railroads was a key to growth and development for both Frogtown and the North End. The promise of work led to housing development and new residents, which in turn led to decisions to build neighborhood churches and schools and extend the street grid. The presence of railroads also played a role in expansion of city utilities and the streetcar system.

Frogtown's Railroads

The best view of the railroads is from the east sidewalk of the Dale Street Bridge, where the railroads passed through what is now Great Northern Business Park. A railroad was first chartered by the Minnesota Legislature in 1857 and received a…

Minnesota Transportation Museum

(Jackson Street Roundhouse) - Jackson Street and Pennsylvania Avenue - The roundhouse dates from 1907. It is the second roundhouse in that area. The first was built in 1882, just to the west of the current structure. It is one of the few remaining…

Jackson Street Shops

(Empire Builder Business Park) - 23-27 Empire Drive - Built in 1882, the shops and the people who worked in them did every aspect of work imaginable for locomotives, freight and passenger rail cars for what became the Great Northern Railway. Most…

The Dale Street Shops

- Dale Street and Minnehaha Avenue - (Northeast corner) The Dale Street Shops were part of a large industrial park, at the northeast corner of Dale Street and Minnehaha Avenue. Built as part of what became the Great Northern Railway, the Dale…

Saint Paul Foundry

(Within Great Northern Business Park North) Walk around some of St. Paul's historic buildings and look for metal base plates, which often bear the name of the St. Paul Foundry. The foundry was started in 1863 by C.N. Parker and H.W. Topping. It…