Shop Amazon – Support Mid-Continent

Through the AmazonSmile program, you can select to have each and every purchase you make from Amazon directly help Mid-Continent Railway Museum.

Amazon Smile logo

AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you know. Same products, same prices, same service, just a different web address… smile.amazon.com.

For each purchase you make through AmazonSmile, Amazon will donate 0.5% of your checkout price to Mid-Continent Railway Museum.

Limited Time Offer: Triple Your Support! 

AmazonSmile is currently running a triple donation promotion through March 31, 2018. When customers make their first eligible smile.amazon.com purchase, Amazon will donate 1.5% of the purchase amount to Mid-Continent Railway Museum.

How to Sign Up

Just click on one of the smile.amazon.com links in this page to automatically select Mid-Continent as your beneficiary organization.

 

Alternatively, on the AmazonSmile website you can search for charities to support. Note that when searching for Mid-Continent, you’ll find us listed under our formal name, Mid-Continent Railway Historical Society, Inc.


Conductor next to baggage cart

Mid-Continent Railway Museum is not a government-funded museum. The largest single slice of Mid-Continent’s budget comes from the support of individual donors and private and corporate grants. That is why we take part in programs such as AmazonSmile.

If you prefer to make a direct contribution to Mid-Continent Railway Museum, head over to our Donation page. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational corporation. Donations made directly to Mid-Continent are tax-deductible.

Mid-Continent Wins Chamber’s Pride and Promotion Award

We are excited and honored to have been awarded the 2017 “Pride and Promotion” from Reedsburg Area Chamber of Commerce at the Chamber’s banquet held February 27, 2018.

Pride and Promotion Award 2017 plaque

Pride & Promotion Award plaque awarded to Mid-Continent Railway Museum.

The anonymously written nomination letter praised Mid-Continent’s efforts to expand dining services and special event offerings:

…the last few years they have offered many more special rides, like the Taco Train, Pizza Train, Beer Train, Margarita Train and Macaroni Train! It seems like they are really trying to attract more people to the area all of the time, and it is easy see why tourists would want to come! Everything they have come up with sounds like so much fun, and I hope they just keep doing it.

The award was accepted on behalf of Mid-Continent by Jeffrey Lentz, Office Manager, and Bobbie Wagner, Director. Lentz gave a brief acceptance speech, sharing the museum’s appreciation of the recognition and news that the museum will soon be doing even more to bring visitors to the Reedsburg area. In particular, the museum’s steam locomotive #1385 is anticipated to be back in operation in time for the 2019 season which is expected to bring in additional visitors to the museum and surrounding areas.

Lentz also shared with the banquet audience that Mid-Continent is also affecting repairs to its bridge over the Baraboo River. This will reestablish the museum’s connection to the Reedsburg-Madison railroad line, opening the possibility of future museum steam train excursions to Reedsburg. The C&NW 1385 steam locomotive last visited the city in 1998 for the city’s sesquicentennial celebration.

C&NW 1385 at Reedsburg depot

C&NW 1385 at Reedsburg, WI for the city’s sesquicentennial celebration. May 1998. Don Meyer photo.

Our New Display Building

Mid-Continent Railway Museum has one of the largest restored wooden car fleets in North America and is continuing to obtain and restore additional wooden cars. Nowhere else is there anything like it, and its potential is tremendous. At the present time the restoration department is actively restoring two wooden passenger cars and has many more cars waiting to be restored. Of those cars waiting restoration, many are stored outside and subject to further deterioration by the elements. The Car Shop, where the restorations take place, has room for approximately 8 cars and is currently full. If you would see, or have seen, the wooden cars that have been restored by the member volunteers, you would agree that the restored cars are works of art.

Currently once a wooden car is restored, there is no place to display or store the car. Mid-Continent has only one building on the property that is currently used for the display of restored cars, the Coach Shed, and that building is filled to capacity (13 cars). Three of the cars currently stored in the Car Shop are fully restored and take up room where other wooden cars could be stored pending restoration. It would be totally impractical to place a restored car outside, subject to the elements, especially a Wisconsin Winter, as the car would have to be restored again in just a few years. The only reasonable solution is to build additional indoor railcar storage and display space.

Tarped train car

A shortage of indoor storage and display space leaves tarps and temporary coverings as the only means of providing a modicum of protection to many of Mid-Continent’s treasured collection items – obscuring them from public view in the process.

In 2016, Mid-Continent received the final payment from a bequest from the estate of Laurence H. Dorcy totaling $968,046. The funds received from the Dorcy estate were restricted, but could be used to build “a structure for the restoration and storage of railroad cars.” The Board of Directors of Mid-Continent approved the building of a new structure, Coach Shed #2. As of February 2018 great strides have been made toward the completion of Coach Shed #2 and it is expected to be completed in summer 2018.

Proposed site plan for new display building.

Site plan for new display building.

 


UPDATE: October 20, 2017

Site grading for the structure is complete and concrete subwalls are poured. Construction of the structure is now underway. The creation of the fire access road paralleling the building is underway as is installation of the subgrade for the interior railroad tracks. Over 1,100 new railroad ties for the project have been ordered and are expected to arrive in late October. The final phase – construction of the nearly 1/3-mile of new railroad tracks to access the building – is anticipated to occur in spring 2018, assuming adequate funding is available to complete the task. Your support toward completion of this final stage is appreciated!

Wall posts going up on the morning of October 20, 2017.

 


UPDATE: November 16, 2017

On Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, Cleary Builders wrapped up installation of the walls and roof and windows. The building looks fantastic, although there is still a lot of work before the building can be put to use. The walk doors, three overhead doors in the rear of the building, lighting and electrical are yet to be installed. There is also no floor in the building as of yet. The building will have concrete walkways running the length of the building (an improvement over the brick walkways found in Coach Shed #1). With colder temperatures setting in, the pouring of concrete has been pushed back to the spring.

Outside the structure itself there is still much work to be done. Many truckloads of rock need to be hauled in to form the roadbed of the new tracks and the ballest. Trackwork will be completed next spring by Knapp Rail Builders, a railroad construction firm used by Mid-Continent numerous times in the past few years for larger-scale track projects. Ditches need to be further shaped and seeded and culverts installed. Walkways must also be placed between the entrance of Coach Shed 1 and the new building.


UPDATE: January 22, 2018

Progress on the new display building has continued through December 2017 and January 2018. Walkdoors and the roll-up train doors have been installed. Inside the building, electricians have been busy installing wiring and lighting throughout the structure. Outside, as weather permits, the excavator has been adding finishing grading to the fire access lane that runs alongside the length of the structure.


 

UPDATE: March 28, 2018

Since the last update, electrical service has been installed throughout the building. In addition to the translucent panels along the top of the walls, primary lighting is provided by 31 energy-efficient LED overhead lights. As a result, Coach Shed #2 will be noticeably brighter inside than Coach Shed #1.

Abundant electrical outlets along the walls provide easy-to-access power sources for lighting and displays for the car interiors. Electrical outlets were also installed on some of the trusses for easy access to power for cars located on the middle track.

Automatically activated temperature control fans have been installed on the south end of the building. The fans, combined with the screened windows on the north end of the structure, will create an air flow through the building, maintaining more comfortable temperatures without relying on keeping doors open for air circulation – unlike Coach Shed #1.

Additional landscaping, track installation and pouring the concrete floor is still on hold pending proper ground conditions and temperatures. Because of the uncertainty of the weather, it is not known when the work will be completed, but it is anticipated the building will be open to the public within 3-months time.


UPDATE: June 11, 2018

The building sign has arrived. Coulee Signs of Holmen, Wis. has generously donated their time and materials for the creation of the sign pictured and a similar new sign to replace the faded and peeling Coach Shed #1 sign. The design of the new signs mimic the appearance of the Chicago & North Western depot signage style, present on the museum’s North Freedom depot.

The new building is named in honor of the late Laurence Dorcy for his generous contribution that made constructing the structure possible.

Sign that will be installed above Coach Shed #2’s main entry doors.


UPDATE: July 11, 2018

Rainy conditions persisting for much of early summer combined with the characteristically wet soil in the area slowed progress toward grading the new tracks servicing the building. However, dry ground inside the building did allow crews to install track within the structure. Crews also installed a new switch on the museum’s mainline that will connect the new structure to our existing track network.

With the wet conditions finally subsiding, work on installing culverts and grading the final few hundred feet has resumed, after which, the track construction contractor can return to complete installation of the remaining track and final landscaping work can begin.

crews installing track switch

Crews install a new switch in the Mid-Continent mainline which will connect the new display building. The new building is visible at far left.


UPDATE: July 17, 2018

Grading for the new track is now complete. The next major step will be installation of the track from the mainline switch to the new building. Once the track is in place, the top layer of ballast will be added.

railroad grade

New railroad grade leading to Coach Shed #2.

In the meantime, some additional grading is being done to install a walkway to the new building from the existing Coach Shed #1.

walkway grade

Grading work for walkway from Coach Shed #1 to Coach Shed #2.


UPDATE: August 21, 2018

Scheduling conflicts have prevented our rail construction contractor from being able to come and complete the installation of the rails connecting the building to the museum’s mainline in July as planned. With the end of our 2018 operating season now less than two months away and time running short to complete the building and still have a chance to plan and send out invites for a grand opening ceremony, it has been determined that the building will not officially open until spring 2019. While a party to celebrate the official opening of the building will have to wait, depending on construction progress, a “soft opening” may still be possible in 2018.


Mid-Continent Railway Historical Society, Inc., a not-for-profit Wisconsin Corporation, is an outdoor living history museum and operating railroad, and is accredited by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) organization. All contributions to Mid-Continent are tax deductible. To make a contribution, visit our Donation page.

This is an update to our original post: Your Help is Needed to Complete Our New Display Building.