Admired for its jewel-like character, the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range depot at Endion was constructed in 1899. The depot was designed by notable Duluth architect I. Vernon Hill, and it is one of the last small passenger depots of its kind.
The Duluth and Iron Range Railroad (later the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railroad) began transporting passengers between Duluth and Two Harbors in 1886. The railroad was an essential link between small communities on the North Shore. The line's first stop outside of downtown Duluth was at Endion. Endion was originally an independent town north of Duluth, but by the end of the nineteenth century it had been absorbed by the growing city.
In 1899 the railroad commissioned the architectural firm of Tenbusch & Hill to design a small passenger depot for the Endion station. The building was completed in 1899 at a cost of $10,000. It originally sat only 100 feet from the shore of Lake Superior. The depot's design called for a Kettle River sandstone foundation and trim, red brick body, and slate roof. The depot's Richardsonian Romanesque style was marked by rounded arches, deeply recessed windows, and heavy stonework. Yet the depot is lighter in design than many of its contemporaries.
In its heyday, the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range depot at Endion was a busy station. Six trains arrived and departed each day. Some took suburban residents to and from downtown Duluth for work. Others transported passengers and freight up the North Shore. Some argue that the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range railroad service, including the vital Endion station depot, was critical in the growth of Duluth's east end. In the second half of the twentieth century, however, passenger rail service declined significantly. The last passenger train left Endion station on July 15, 1961. The railroad continued to use the depot for freight service until 1978.
The Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range depot at Endion was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. By the 1970s, the small depot was the last of its kind in Duluth. The depot was also architecturally significant. The building's projecting gables are an example of architect I. Vernon Hill's personal style. The depot's beauty, lakeside location, and link to the railroad history of Duluth made its preservation a priority.
The Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range railroad stopped service to the Endion depot in 1978. For several years the building was vacant. Duluth architect Edward Schafer purchased, restored, and renovated the depot for use as an office in 1980. In 1986, the building was threatened by the planned expansion of Interstate 35. However, since the building was important as a piece of architecture and a part of Duluth's railroad history, the building was saved. State and local officials decided to move the depot. In June 1986, the depot was removed from its original foundation and moved to a new home in Duluth's Canal Park at a cost of nearly $400,000.
After its move, the depot hosted a variety of commercial and municipal programs. The city of Duluth sold the depot in 2012, and its future is uncertain.
Creger, Mike. "Duluth train depot for sale." Duluth News Tribune, October 1, 2012.
Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Depot (Endion), National Register of Historic Places Nomination File, State Historic Preservation Office, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul.
Endion Passenger Depot: Photographs, Written Historical and Descriptive Data. Denver: Rocky Mountain Regional Office, National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. Library of Congress: Historic American Engineering Record no. MN-9. 1988. http://lcweb2.loc.gov/pnp/habshaer/mn/mn0000/mn0092/data/mn0092data.pdf
Mart, Patrick. "Duluth architect's dream becomes reality." Minneapolis Tribune, July 7, 1980.
In 1899, the Duluth and Iron Range Railroad completes construction on the passenger and freight depot at Endion.