A construction train of the Duluth & Iron Range Railway reached Knife River on October 23, 1886. Only a few commercial fishermen were here. In May 1898, a new logging railroad, the Alger-Smith Lumber Company’s Duluth & Northern Minnesota Railway, was established at Knife River and a new community began to take shape. A depot was needed and so the D&IRR moved its east Duluth Lester Park depot, built in 1887, to Knife River on two flatcars in December of 1899. It served both the D&IRR and the D&NMR.
The depot served both railroads with each sharing costs. The depot became the nerve center of town serving railroad passengers, handling freight, providing telegraph and later phone service, and displaying the correct Central Standard Time through Western Union. The first Post Office was also at the depot. Passenger service ended on July 15, 1961.
Knife River depot about 1915. Note barrels of fish on loading dock at left.