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Transportation Research: Mass Transit

Minnesota transportation from animal-drawn carts and wagons to airplanes and mass transit.

About Mass Transit

Horse-drawn streetcars in Minneapolis and St. Paul were part of the beginnings of mass transit in Minnesota.  An extensive system of electric streetcar lines in the Twin Cities area developed and flourished.  Duluth and neighboring Superior, Wisconsin also had an extensive streetcar system as did many other smaller cities in Minnesota, including St. Cloud, Mankato, Breckenridge, Brainerd, and International Falls.  Interurban railways connected cities, suburbs, and smaller towns.  In the mid-1950s the streetcars were replaced by buses which could travel on city streets and highways.  In recent years light rail has supplemented bus transportation in the Twin Cities area.

Researching Mass Transit

Search the library catalog for books and other published materials, manuscript collections, and State Archives collections about mass transit. Useful search terms: street-railroads, bus lines, and local transit.

Selected manuscript and State Archives collection finding aids detailing box locations and contents are available online. Others are available in notebooks in the Library.

Photographs, artwork, and artifacts documenting mass transit can be found in Collections Online.  Useful search terms: street-railroads, street cars, and electric railroads.

Newspapers may contain advertisements and stories about mass transit.

Selected Mass Transit Resources

The Streetcars Research Guide contains extensive resources on streetcars.

Twin City Rapid Transit Company Corporate Records, 1872-2001.  
Business records of the TCRT Company and its subsidiaries and predecessors, including financial records, valuation records, maps and drawings, and personnel records.  
MNHS call number:  Digital Finding Aid

Metropolitan Transit Commission Published Records and Reports, 1958-1995.  
Reports, newsletters, and miscellaneous print and near-print items documenting the work of the MTC.
MNHS call number:  Digital Finding Aid

The Electric Railways of Minnesota, by Russell L. Olson  Hopkins.
Minnesota Transportation Museum, 1976.
MNHS call number:  Reading Room HE4487.M6O48

Twin Cities by Trolley: The Streetcar Era in Minneapolis and St. Paul, by John W. Diers.
 Minneapolis:  University of Minnesota Press, 2007.
MNHS call number:  TF725.M6D54 2007

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Related Research Guides & Webpages

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