More on the days the trains ran to Pelican Rapids

Some follow-up on the photo of the old Pelican Rapids train depot, published in the April 22 edition of the Pelican Rapids Press (pictured again, top right).

Press reader and frequent contributor of historical material, Tom Albright, sent us the overhead view of the Pelican railyard. “The tracks end at the Frazee Mill where the train did a turn around switchback. That’s why there were 3 sets of tracks through Broadway,” wrote Albright. He also sent image of an early train crew in Pelican Rapids; and a image of the Great Northern Railway train schedule, dated 1947.

“All days except Sunday. Engine number was 301 arrival, 302 departure. The train left the Fergus Depot at 1:40 p.m., arrived at Pelican Depot at 2:45 p.m. The crew mostly lived in Pelican. Passengers boarded the train for their 8:10 a.m. once a day train ride to Fergus Depot.”

“Pelican library has several newspaper articles on the Pelican train, wrote Albright. “I also know that Daryl Tweeton has been working on gathering information on the PR Train.”

We received a call from Everett Ballard regarding the old Pelican depot. The business we now know as Ballard Sanitation, was originally a “dray” or delivery service, which hauled freight—most notably coal––from the railyard to local businesses and homes. When natural gas and modern energy came to Pelican Rapids, Ballard made the transition from short trip freight and coal delivery to hauling refuse and garbage. As Everett explained: When homeowners had coal-burning furnaces, they would typically toss whatever burnable trash and garbage they generated into the furnace. Eliminating coal as an energy source created another new business opportunity: Hauling trash; which spawned Ballard Sanitation.

In fact, Everett Ballard salvaged a couple of the freight carts from the old train depot, which he still uses.

We also learned that Andrew Johnson has a sign from the old Pelican Rapids train depot, which is on display at his retail store, Riverview Place.

—-Louis Hoglund, managing editor