Another unusual service provided by the D&IR Railway was the “Fisherman’s Special,” which ran between Duluth and Two Harbors on Sundays during the summer. The morning train stopped at several trout streams along the north shore, where the fishermen were dropped off for a day of fishing. They were picked up in the late afternoon by the returning train.
In 1953 passenger trains pulled by steam locomotives were replaced by a self-propelled diesel Budd Car, which handled the ever-diminishing passenger traffic until 1961, when all passenger service was discontinued.
In the early 1980s changing economic trends and a sharp decline in business prompted the Duluth, Mesabi and Iron Range Railroad, a successor company to the D&IR, to apply to the Interstate Commerce Commission for permission to abandon the Lakefront Line. Members of the Lake Superior Railroad Museum recognized the potential value of the scenic line as an opportunity to interpret history in a dynamic way.
To preserve the line, they lobbied successfully for the creation of the St. Louis and Lake Counties Regional Railroad Authority, which purchased the twenty-seven mile railroad with a substantial grant from the State of Minnesota. At a gala celebration held at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum on June 8, 1989, the Lakefront Line was renamed the North Shore Scenic Railroad and was officially dedicated by Governor Rudy Perpich. This significant event closed a century of colorful history.
Today, the North Shore Scenic Railroad carries over 100,000 passengers annually. It attracts visitors from around the world to visit Duluth, Minnesota and experience the rich history of the area. Under the watchful care of the Lake Superior Railroad Museum, the line sees alot of unique historic railroad equipment on it, while the track itself is cared for by the St. Louis & Lake Counties Regional Rail Authority. Trains operate throughout the year, including some limited winter freight operations.