Flood Update – September 2, 2018

Waters are steadily receding, although rains during the weekend and coming days will likely slow the rate at which it moves out.

The public is reminded to stay away for the time being. The area is currently unsafe for visitors. Everything is coated in a slick layer of mud and there may be hidden damage to steps, walkways and electrical systems.

Volunteers are reminded to leave everything as-is until FEMA and insurance inspectors arrive on scene.

All trains in the month of September have been cancelled. We’re still assessing whether or not the September 29-30th Vintage Rail Car Tours event will be able to be offered. We’re hoping to fully reopen in time for our October events, but it won’t be determined until we see how quickly the cleanup and repair process goes. After the 2008 flood of a similar magnitude, we were closed for 8 months, so reopening in just 1 month is an ambitious goal to be sure, but one we will try our best to meet.

Rolling stock damage assessment photos from August 31 around 4 PM are shown below. Water was near maximum height.

Based on these photos, it appears 1 or 2 cars had water reach their body and will require more extensive repairs (both are privately owned cabooses). Approximately 56 pieces of equipment had water enter their journal boxes (on their axles) and will require cleaning. That will be a time-consuming but relatively inexpensive process that can be done by volunteers. A total of 55 pieces of equipment, including all cars used for train rides, were either evacuated to the south or positioned on high enough ground to avoid any damage.

2018 Flood - August 31

Photos from the morning of September 2, 2018.

2018 Flood - September 2

Flood Update August 31, 2018

Train Cancellations and Refunds

Mid-Continent Railway Museum is closed until further notice due to flooding.

All trains through at least September 3rd will definitely not run. Also, the September 15th Pizza Train and Wine on the Rails train are cancelled. Further cancellations may be necessary as the water recedes and damage assessments are made to determine the scope of repairs necessary.

If you have a reservation on one of our cancelled trains, you will be contacted by Mid-Continent staff in the coming days and are eligible for a full refund. Please allow a few days for us to contact you. As of Friday morning, there is no power at the museum so refunds cannot be issued and phones may go unanswered as office staff is busy directing recovery efforts.


Below are photos taken during the day August 30, 2018 as the waters continued to rise. Waters continued to rise during the night. More photos will be posted as they become available. Lack of power at the museum is inhibiting frequent updates.

2018 Flood - August 30

Last updated: 11:52 PM, 8/30/2018

Flood Notice – August 2018

Last Update: August 29, 11:20 AM

The museum remains open and all trains are departing as scheduled today (Wednesday, August 29).


There are no known road closures in the immediate vicinity of the museum as of August 29. Some roads in the greater area are closed. These closures could impact some visitors arriving today. Known closures to primary highways include:

  • From the West & North
    • Hwy 33 between Union Center and Reedsburg
    • Hwy 58 between Mauston and Ironton
    • Hwy 16 between Mauston and Lyndon Station
    • I-90/I-94 eastbound between New Lisbon and Wisconsin Dells
  • From the East
    • I-90/I-94 westbound between Portage and New Lisbon
  • From the South
    • Hwy 14 between Mazomanie and Cross Plains

This post will be updated as any new and pertinent information becomes available.

DULUTH Project Gets Support from SLHTS

Mid-Continent Railway Museum is grateful for the continued support by the Soo Line Historical & Technical Society (SLHTS) to restore the museum’s DULUTH sleeping car. In mid-July 2018, Mid-Continent Railway Museum received a donation of $1,250 from SLHTS to assist with ongoing work on the car.

SLHTS has a history of supporting the acquisition and restoration of Soo Line heritage equipment at Mid-Continent Railway Museum. This new donation is in addition to $600 SLHTS donated for the DULUTH prior to the car’s arrival to aid in transporting the car from the shores of Lake Superior to its new home in North Freedom, Wis. In recent years, SLHTS has also supported projects such as Soo Line caboose #99085, the Soo Line steam locomotive #2645.

Mid-Continent Railway Museum is pleased to join SLHTS in sharing Soo Line’s rich history with present and future generations.

In 1988, Mid-Continent played host to the Soo Line Historical & Technical Society’s annual convention which included a special train ride featuring equipment of Soo Line heritage.

Baraboo River Bridge Reopens After 10 Years

Mid-Continent celebrates the reopening of an old bridge and opportunities it presents

NORTH FREEDOM – Mid-Continent Railway Museum celebrated the reopening of a museum-owned railroad bridge over the Baraboo River on Saturday, July 7th with a “ribbon busting” ceremony. Cheers and applause broke out from the crowd of around 40 dignitaries and guests as the first train to cross the bridge in over a decade burst through the ceremonial ribbon and proceeded into the North Freedom station.

The bridge, like most of the Mid-Continent property, was hard-hit by the record flooding of the Baraboo River in June 2008. The bridge was almost entirely submerged before the floodwaters subsided. The already 79-year-old bridge remained standing but had become structurally compromised and was no longer safe for trains to cross. It remained that way for the last decade as museum leaders sought ways to fund its repair.

In late 2017 all the pieces finally came together. A $600,000 grant was received by the Wagner Foundation, a major supporter of the museum’s ongoing effort to return steam locomotive #1385 to working condition by 2019. The Sauk County Economic Development Committee also approved a grant for $77,000 in economic development funds to cover the rest needed to begin repairs. By January 2018, work crews had arrived and began driving new pilings into the bedrock to give the now 89-year-old bridge a new, sturdy foundation. Contractors completed work on the bridge in late June.

The ability to cross the bridge, located adjacent to the museum’s North Freedom depot, provides Mid-Continent greater flexibility for staging its trains. It also restores the museum’s connection to the Wisconsin & Southern Railroad line between Reedsburg and Madison. The potential of being able to take the museum’s historic trains beyond the museum’s 3.7-mile North Freedom branchline to other Sauk County communities and Devil’s Lake State Park is an exciting prospect for train lovers and fans of the museum.