Mississippi River, Autumn Colors

October 3 & 4, 2020

Bold autumn colors, bald eagles soaring gracefully, swiftly flowing river, just some of the many things you may see along your journey down the Mississippi on the Fall Colors 2020. See the historic Red Wing depot as we pass through Red Wing, Minn., admire the bluffs that were carved by the mighty Mississippi many years ago. Experience this, and more, all while enjoying fine gourmet meals prepared by our on-board chef with service from our dedicated volunteer crew.

Fall Colors 2020 will include coach, first class and premium class. Premium class includes reserved seating in Milwaukee Road Skytop observation Cedar Rapids or Super Dome 53. Premium Class Cedar Rapids includes more exclusive atmosphere and priority luggage handling.  Food service is included with your ticket in First Class and Premium Class. These trips will be pulled by Amtrak diesels.

Presented by the Friends of the 261

October 3 & 4, 2020

Comfort & Style

Gourmet Meals

Breath Taking Scenery

Passenger Classes available for purchase

All tickets are round trip (Children 3 to 14 require ticket, children under 3 free if not occupying a seat)

Round Trip – Midway/St Paul Union Depot to Winona

Coach Class:
Adult – $149.00
Child – $69.00

First Class:

Premium Class:
Super Dome – $349.00
Cedar Rapids – $399.00

Round trip – Winona to Lacresent

Coach Class:
Adult – $149.00
Child – $69.00

First Class:

Premium Class:
Super Dome – $349.00
Cedar Rapids – $399.00

The Friends of the 261,in cooperation with Amtrak, BNSF Railway and Canadian Pacific will operate diesel-powered fall color excursion from Minneapolis to Winona, Minn. on October 3 & 4, 2020.

This trip will be featuring Friends of the 261 equipment, the cars will start our journey by returning to the route the Milwaukee Road once traveled in regular service. These meticulously refurbished, fully restored cars recall the era when traveling was half the fun and offer a memorable journey you’ll cherish for years to come!

These trips are to help raise funds for the installation of the Positive Train Control (PTC) safety system on Milwaukee Road steam locomotive #261. These trips will be pulled by Amtrak diesels.

PTC is a computerized system utilizing a GPS tracking system that can automatically stop a train in certain safety situations. Without funding to purchase, install and train crews for PTC use on #261, mainline excursions may never run again with the locomotive.


The 261 Fall Colors excursion train will board at 8:00 am from Midway and 9:00 am from St Paul Union Depot, on October 3 & 4, 2020. Our train will operate from Minneapolis to La Crescent, Minn., with an intermediate stop at Winona.

After departing St Paul, look for these sites along our journey down the Mississippi.

MP 392.5 – Mississippi Lock and Dam #2 – Construction of Lock and Dam #2 began on October 16, 1928 and finished on November 30, 1930. Lock & dam #2 will be on the west side as we travel along the Mississippi.

MP 391.1 – Hastings – Incorporated as a city in 1857, one of its newest features is the Hwy 61 over pass, on the west side of the train. The new Hastings, Minnesota Bridge is a 21st century landmark with a main span that boasts the longest free-standing tied-arch bridge in North America.

MP 377.8 – Prairie Island Indian Community/Treasure Island – This reservation was established in 1889 by the Mdewakanton tribe, “those who were born of the waters,” and casino in 1984, will be on the east side of the train.

MP 370.7 – Red Wing, Minn – As we enter Red Wing, watch for the famous Red Wind Pottery on the west side of the train as well as the Red Wing Depot opened in 1905.

MP 353.8 – Lake Pepin – a naturally occurring lake on the Mississippi River on the border between the U.S. states of Minnesota and Wisconsin, with a surface area of about 40 square miles, average depth of 21 feet, and up to 2 miles wide and 22 miles long.

MN 308.2 – Winona/Sugar Bluff – Sugar Loaf is a bluff on the Mississippi River topped by a rock pinnacle, overlooking the city of Winona, Minnesota, towering 500 feet above the river channel, will be on the west side of the train.

MP 283.5 – La Crescent/Main River Channel Rail Bridge – initially built in 1876 and replaced in 1902, our excursion will briefly stop on this bridge as we change directions to head back to St Paul.

Boarding Locations

Passengers may choose where they would like to board. You may board at either the Old Amtrak Station, Midway, in St. Paul, MN or at St. Paul Union Depot. You may find directions to either boarding locations by following the links below.

*Terms & Conditions - This is excursion is NOT pulled by the Milwaukee #26 or Milw 32A

Friends of the 261 has the right to cancel the trip without any detail or advance notice. If the trips are canceled tickets purchased for said trip will be refunded in their entirety, minus any online fees occurred. Friends of the 261 is not responsible for equipment substitution and assumes no liability for inconvenience caused by delays. Trains will run rain or shine. All times are subject to that day’s train status and are not controlled by the Friends of the 261. Amtrak/Air Fare rates are only estimates & are subject to the discretion of their provider.


Plan to arrive at the station 30 minutes prior to departure time. You may check on the current departure and arrival times for Amtrak trains by calling 1-800-USARAIL (1-800-872-7245) or by downloading the Amtrak app and clicking on “Train Status.”

If you call to inquire, the call center will not be aware that our private cars will be on the trains but they can furnish you with arrival and departure information.

Due to Amtrak’s new private car policy, from St Paul Union Depot to Chicago Union Station, we are restricted due to Amtrak’s on-time performance and can not guarantee the train will run as scheduled.


  • Smoking is allowed only in vestibules, on non-Amtrak Trains.
  • Vestibules may only be opened on non-Amtrak Trains.
  • When applicable, Light food and beverage service will be available (complimentary in First & Premium Classes).
  • When applicable, Boxed lunch availability is limited so order early. Lunches will be sold on a first come first served basis prior to the day of the excursion and not available for purchase the day of the excursion. Light commissary food may be available for purchase. If you have a dietary restriction notify us ahead of time so we may accommodate you, Contact us.
  • We welcome disabled or handicapped passengers. However, because these are older cars, there are no special handicapped facilities available. Historic and antiquated rail passenger equipment, like that used on our excursions, are exempt from ADA regulations under U.S. Code: Title 42: Section 12184. The passenger cars and station facilities used on our excursions were constructed before disability accessibility laws were adopted. Platforms, boarding areas, stairs, step-stools, seating, and especially doorways, passageways, aisles, and on board restrooms may not accommodate all passengers. We will make all reasonable efforts to accommodate special needs passengers who desire to ride one of our trips .Please consider the suitability of these trips carefully and Contact us for additional information. If you have special physical needs, please give us advance notice.
  • When applicable, Reserved seating is assigned in a random order, you may request a certain seat by emailing us, we do our best to fulfill request, but DO NOT guarantee that the request will be fulfilled.


Tickets are non-refundable – this includes but limited to: travel disruption, illness, family emergencies, etc. It is at the discretion of the passenger to purchase travel insurance from a private broker. Notified at least 30 days prior to departure date, 50% refund of full payment will be returned. Notified 0-30 days prior to departure date, no refund will be returned. Online purchasing fees are non-refundable. Hotel rooms are non-refundable, no exceptions. If you purchased a ticket with a hotel room you will be refunded 50% of an equal ticket without a hotel. Overseas trips are non-refundable 90 days prior to departure date.

Special offers/discounts are only valid from 12:00 am(midnight) to 12:00 am(midnight) of dates stated in offer/discount, offers/discounts may not be back dated or forward dated. Exchanges are not allowed on all events, and are not available from one event to another. Exchanges must be approved 60 days prior to event.

Once tickets have been purchased, you have accepted all the terms & conditions listed above.