Gut & Liver Line

Whistle Stops in the Wilderness

With the clang, whistle and steam of trains to The Edge of the Wilderness at the turn of the century, the logging industry prospered and communities were created in the region.

When Logging was King

Imagine the backbreaking work of lumberjacks as they cleared this path through the thick forest. They were preparing for the arrival of the railroad. As far as you can see, loggers opened the future of their industry during the early 1900s. They even cut the railroad ties that would eventually bring trains beyond - to Bigfork, Effie and Craig. If you stood here in 1906, you would regularly hear and see the trains, piled high with timber, coming down the line. What must it have been like for these pioneers? For most, it meant progress and a livelihood.

This location was Pine Station, one of several stops along the Minneapolis and Rainey River Railway (M. and R. RR), better known as the Gut and Liver Line. The M. and R. RR was one of 40 logging railroads that chugged into operation in Minnesota during this era. By 1916 - the peak of railroad logging activity in the state - there were 5,000 miles of track with 230 locomotives and 4,800 log cars in service.

The railroad was important for the logging industry because rail transportation allowed logs to be hauled to sawmills all year round, and


Logsmoved logs in directions never before possible. Earlier, river or water movement had been the only option.

What's in a Name?

Despite its name, the M. and R. RR never got closer then 200 miles from Minneapolis or 75 miles from the Rainey River. But the name adopted by the settlers, the Gut and Liver Line, provides plenty of possible stories. Local legend includes:

  • All lumber camps along the line served liver sausage.
  • Once the train reached its northern edge, the gut and liver were the only meat left.
  • The bumpy ride got to the gut and liver.
  • The train was splattered with animals it hit along the way.

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