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Map, Novelty, Railroad, Soo Line Railroad Tray, Cartographic Curiosity, c. 1913-20


Soo Line Railroad Map Tray
American: c. 1913-1920
Screen printed tin
15.25 x 10.5 x 1 inches, overall
Provenance: Railroad Collection of Francis H. Schwartz
The one shown here is sold, however, we have another in stock, please inquire for images.

Soo Line Railroad screen printed tin dining car tray featuring a map of a portion of the territory served by the railroad in northern North Dakota and Montana. The names of other states served by the Soo Line — Dakotas, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan — are printed in bold type around the perimeter of the tray. The tray has a simulated wood coating and is printed in shades of brown, red, white and gold. Small, red Soo Line logos appear in each of the four corners. Another example is in the collection of the Minnesota Historical Society, which has it dated as 1930s. Nonetheless, the map shows a planned extension of the Soo Line past Whitetail, Montana, work on which was stopped during World War I and never resumed, suggesting a slightly earlier date (but not earlier than the 1913 creation of the section shown in the map).

Product description continues below.


The tray is at once a cartographic curiosity as well as railroad memorabilia. The map is oriented with north to the right, and encompasses the northwestern corner of North Dakota and northeastern corner of Montana, from the Canadian border to just south of the Missouri River. Montana is decorated with snow-capped mountains and a striped sunrise motif with a central shield advertising “Safety” and “Courtesy” and the words “Montana” and “Success” spelled out in the sky. The cartography is simple, showing the major rivers and Creek Lake, counties, rail lines in red and station stops labeled in white. Two red-and-white dashed lines, one paralleling the Missouri River and one west of Whitetail, Montana, presumably indicate planned extensions, which were never constructed. The North Dakota counties of Williams, Divide, Mountrail, Burke, Ward, Renville and McKenzie are shown, as are the Montana counties of Sheridan and Dawson.

The Soo Line Railroad took its name from the Canadian city of Sault (pronounced “soo”) Ste. Marie, and was formed in 1888 from the merger of three railroads into the Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Railway. The company expanded throughout the rest of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The rail line through northwestern North Dakota to Whitetail, Montana, was completed in 1913. At its peak in 1985, the Soo Line Railroad operated from Chicago and Sault Ste. Marie in the east, to Winnipeg, Minneapolis/St. Paul and eastern Montana in the west. Today it is the primary U.S. subsidiary of the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual light oxidation, and minor abrasions, scratches, indentations.


Kohlin, Ron. “A 100-year Timeline History of the Soo Line Railroad.” 28 August 1999. (28 March 2012).

“Soo Line Railway dining car tray.” Minnesota Historical Society. 2012. (28 March 2012).

“The Soo Line Railroad, Ship Soo To And Through The Upper Midwest.” American Rails. 2007-2012. (28 March 2012).

“Whitetail, Montana.” Wikipedia. 29 July 2011.,_Montana (28 March 2012).

Additional information


20th Century