End-O-Line Railroad Park and Museum is a twelve-acre historic site that features over thirteen historic buildings and structures dedicated to preserving and interpreting the early history of Currie, the Shetek area, and its 20th Century railroad history. Nestled on the northern edge of an historic community, the park is a fun and educational destination for large tours as well as quaint family gatherings. You will be surprised by what you find at this beautiful museum.
It all began with a turntable—an abandoned, weed-filled, neglected relic from the days when Currie was the terminus of a spur line on the Chicago & North Western Railway System. With the advent of diesel locomotives, along with reduced rail service to small towns such as Currie, the turntable was no longer used and had fallen into disrepair. This is how End-O-Line Railroad Park and Museum began and how it has become one of the more popular historic sites in the region.
Currie’s railroad history began in 1900, when the Des Moines Valley Railway Company completed a branch line to this small village of a few hundred residents located in Murray County in southwest Minnesota. Although Currie was the first town founded in the county and had been the county seat from 1872 to 1890, it lacked rail service for the first thirty years of its existence. Immediately upon the Currie line’s completion, it was the purchased by the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway (CStPM&O, commonly called the Omaha Road) and rail service to Currie commenced in the spring of 1900.
In 1901 the CStPM&O expanded the rail yard in Currie – which consisted of a depot, engine-house, water tower, and a switching yard— along with the construction of a manually-operated turntable. Since Currie was the end of the line, when a train arrived the engine was uncoupled from the cars, pushed onto the turntable, rotated, then returned to the main line to be re-coupled with the cars. In 1922 the turntable cracked (possibly due to an overweight locomotive), and a replacement was brought in from Pipestone, Minnesota. The new turntable was larger than the previous one, so consequently the turntable pit had to be widened to accommodate it.
Passenger traffic and freight hauling on the Currie line peaked in the early 1920s and declined swiftly as the automobile became more common. By 1930 the Omaha Road had reduced service on the line and by the mid-1950s, a station agent no longer staffed the Currie depot. By 1972, the Currie branch line was used only occasionally for freight service. Even that came to an end later in the decade; the last train into Currie was a diesel engine delivering a load of fertilizer to the Currie grain elevator in 1977. The Currie branch line was officially abandoned on January 8, 1980. On that date eighty years of rail service to Currie came to a decisive end.
Enter a local 4-H group; the Currie Poco-a-Poco club. In 1972, a new initiative by the state Minnesota 4-H organization called Community Pride challenged all 4-H youth clubs in the state to develop and complete a project that would improve their local communities. Colleen Illg and Roxanne Probst, two teenaged 4-H members from Currie, advised by adult leaders Louise Gervais and Dorothy Ruppert, decided that their club’s project would be to clean up the abandoned turntable. For their efforts, the club won the award for best Community Pride project in Murray County and were chosen to represent the county at the state Community Pride Conference held in St. Paul in September 1972. As part of the conference, Illg also attended a recognition banquet where the club was honored as one of the top eight projects out of 400 in Minnesota.
The following year, the club noticed an ad in the local paper stating that the original Currie depot was up for sale and needed to be moved off the property or it would be destroyed. Gervais and Ruppert instructed the girls to write to the Chicago & North Western Railroad about the depot. Within a few weeks, they had an answer; they would sell the depot for $1 provided it was moved off the property. It took about two years to raise the funds to buy land across the street near the turntable and to move the depot to its present site. The 4-H club leaders soon realized the park was going to be too much for them to handle on a volunteer basis and asked the County Government of Murray County to take it over as a county park in 1975. The county also asked Louise Gervais to be the park’s seasonal director and curator. She would not “retire” from this role until 2010; though she remained involved with the park until her death in 2017.
For over 40 years, Gervais’ persistence and dedication to preserving local history led to what the park is today. End-O-Line Railroad Park and Museum is now a 12-acre campus containing thirteen buildings and eight large rolling stock artifacts. Not all the buildings are related to the area’s railroad history. Among them are a:
- Restored general store built in 1872
- Replica wheat grist mill
- Rural country school house built around 1890
- Presbyterian church built in 1873 (that still holds services every Sunday)
- Replica of the first courthouse in the county.
Among the railroad related buildings in the park are the:
- Original Currie Depot
- Replica of the original Enginehouse
- Replica coal bunker
- An original rail water tower
- Section’s Foreman’s house from Comfrey, MN built in 1899
Rolling stock artifacts include:
- 1940s diesel switcher engine
- 1930s cupola-style Grand Trunk Western Railway caboose
- 1875 narrow-gauge 2-6-0 Baldwin steam engine
- three inspector/repair cars made by Fairmont Motor Cars
- 1922 4-6-0 steam engine from the Georgia Northern Railway
- 1940s Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway caboose
Another unique and popular feature of the park is a large H-O model train layout depicting the Currie railyards around 1901. It was built in late 1970s by two area teachers who had a passion for modeling. But after all these years, the park’s greatest structure remains the turntable. When you visit and take a guided tour, guests are given a spin on the Nationally Registered Historic Landmark. It is the only exclusively hand-operated railroad turntable in its original location still operational in Minnesota and one of the remaining few in the country.
The park is located at 440 North Mill Street on Murray County Hwy 38 off of US Hwy 30 in Currie. Our hours are Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day. We are closed on Monday’s and Tuesday’s except for holidays and special arrangement. Open on Memorial, Independence, and Labor Days. Before Memorial Day during the month of May and after Labor Day until Minnesota Educators Academy (MEA) Weekend, the park is open by pre-arranged appointment only.