Why we should thank the railroads


St. Paul has been shaped by railroads. And our community continues to benefit from our good fortune of being in the right place at the right time. Railroad pioneer James J. Hill was in some ways his era’s Steve Jobs — a forward-looking innovator who wouldn’t take no for an answer.

Hill’s railway extended from St. Paul to Puget Sound. By the middle of 1893, America’s West and East coasts were linked by regular service, with St. Paul right in the middle.

If you wonder why our region is home to 18 Fortune 500 companies, outpacing all other U.S. metro areas on a per-capita basis, you need look no further than the rail lines that cross through our cities. Our entrepreneurial success began when leaders built railroads that linked us to both coasts.

Last week, the Star Tribune editorialized that railroads need to help safeguard Minnesota’s safety (“Ask railroads to do their part for safety,” March 20). No one would disagree. But the paper failed to mention what the railroads are already doing to improve rail safety.

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