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Plan to move Minnesota Zephyr to Hudson isn't final, owner says

The Minnesota Zephyr dinner train operated for 22 years on a six-mile line running north from Stillwater, Minn. Its last run was New Year's Eve of 2008.

The reported move of the Minnesota Zephyr dinner train to Hudson may not happen, owner Dave Paradeau said in a phone call Thursday morning.

"I should know more in a couple days, maybe even by tomorrow afternoon," Paradeau said.

He declined to say where in the Hudson area that the train might be kept, or what the plans for the train are.

"I don't what to get involved with that until I know for sure where this is going. I'm kind of hoping for a phone call today here, and then (I'll) make some decisions," He said.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Wednesday that six Zephyr railcars currently being stored on Andersen Corp. property in Bayport, Minn., would be moved to a secure location in Hudson.

Paradeau reportedly came to a last-minute agreement with Andersen Corp. to prevent the company from selling the cars at a public auction set for Wednesday morning.

The company allowed Paradeau to move the cars to its property last summer after Paradeau sold the six-mile Zephyr track to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for a reported $4.25 million. The state plans to develop a bicycle and pedestrian trail on the former rail line.

Andersen Corp. officials thought the railcars would be on their company's property for only a short time when they agreed to take them. Paradeau was working on a sale of cars to a buyer on the West Coast, but the deal fell through.

"After five months, the cars have become an impediment to our business and must be removed," Laurie Bauer, a spokesperson for Andersen Corp., was quoted as saying in Tuesday's Pioneer Press. "We've been very patient and have tried to help out, but, unfortunately, it's just been too long."

Andersen Corp. says Paradeau owes the company $250,000 for rental of its tracks.

Paradeau operated the Zephyr dinner train from 1986 to 2008, when it made its last run on New Year's Eve.

The train also has two locomotives currently located on Zephyr property still owned by Paradeau.

In December, the city of Stillwater hired a crew to move one of the locomotives back onto the private property after it became stranded on city property during an attempted move on July 27, 2012.

The main suspension beam on a 16-axle trailer that Paradeau had hired to move the locomotive snapped, and the locomotive was left right where it was, on city property near P.D. Pappy's Music Bar & Grill.

Paradeau told the Pioneer Press he has worked for months to find someone to purchase or store the train. He said he has contacted more than 100 individuals, companies and museums in the effort.

"I think people - Andersen Windows, their attorneys - all think that I just didn't care, that it was just delinquent on my part of trying to get those cars out of there, and it's just the opposite," Paradeau was quoted as saying in Wednesday's Pioneer Press.

Paradeau indicated to the Star-Observer that he would be willing answer questions about plans for the Zephyr when they are finalized.

The largely vacant former Duro Bag plant in the town of Hudson off County Road A in the town of Hudson is served by a spur rail line. There's no word, yet, on whether it is a potential site for the Zephyr.