Gifts to Mid-Continent

The vision of Mid-Continent’s founders to restore a single steam locomotive and a few coaches in which to give train rides was pretty modest by today’s standards. Their image of a small operating museum has grown over the years into the experience we all now enjoy at our North Freedom location, where the era of vintage train travel remains an exciting adventure. Ticket and gift shop sales have never been enough to keep these trains rolling. It takes the charitable support of members and friends to cover the huge costs of being one of the most respected museums for the preservation of our railroad heritage.

Please join us by making your own contribution to one of the museum programs listed below. Every donation is acknowledged with a formal receipt affirming your financial support as fully tax deductible.

Mid-Continent is a not-for-profit, educational entity, incorporated in the state of Wisconsin and accredited by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) organization.

How to Make a Donation

Donate by Mail

If you prefer to donate by check, please fill out the printable donation form for the desired purpose(s) and mail it along with your check to:

Mid-Continent Railway Historical Society
PO Box 358
North Freedom, WI 53951

Donate by Phone

Donations via credit or debit card can be accepted by phone by calling 608-522-4261 or toll free 800-930-1385. Credit and debit card donations can be one-time or set up to be reoccurring monthly, quarterly, or annually.

Donate Online

Donations can be made online using PayPal. You do not need a PayPal account to use this feature. PayPal accepts all major credit cards as well as allowing you to use a PayPal account if desired. Choose from one of the preset amounts or use the second box to type in a different amount. Note: upon clicking the Donate button, you will be taken to the PayPal website.

Make a Donation Using PayPal
Other Amount:
Enter fund designation (specify one of the recommended programs below or enter your own):

Please feel free to call us if you have any questions about the best way to support the museum. Your charitable gift will be used entirely as you direct or, if left unrestricted, where we have the greatest need.


Recommended Programs

Donors have the freedom to choose which areas of museum operations they wish to support. Here is a list of recommended programs.

General Fund

Sometimes the most powerful gift is the one that is made without restriction. The General Fund was established to allow museum management the discretion to use its unrestricted gifts where they are most needed. Your gifts to this fund will help us meet the most pressing need.

C&NW No. 1385 Steam Locomotive

painting of CNW 1385 frame

Painting the C&NW 1385 frame.

Gifts to this fund will benefit the restoration of the former Chicago & North Western No. 1385 to full working order. When complete you will be able to enjoy a train ride powered by this 1907 built ten-wheeler, famous for its goodwill tours of the 1980s. You can follow the project’s progress on the Steam Status page.

Steam Fund

No. 2's smokestack (resting in front of C&NW 1385's boiler) awaits installation.

Steam locomotives under restoration.

Gifts to this fund benefit Mid-Continent’s steam engine restoration program without limiting the gift to a particular locomotive. This allows museum management the discretion to use the funds as needed on projects such as restoring to operation Chicago & North Western No. 1385, Saginaw Timber Company No. 2, and Western Coal & Coke No. 1.

Wood Car Restoration

volunteers sanding caboose

Car Shop volunteers prepare a caboose for repainting.

A tour through the Coach Shed is the best way to experience the stunning success achieved in restoring Mid-Continent’s wooden car collection. There are many more pieces on our property in need of this same type of treatment and gifts to this fund help us to revitalize the marvelous craftsmanship hidden beneath the age and deterioration of these once marvelous relics.


volunteers installing display cases

Volunteers install display cases in the depot waiting room.

Mid-Continent’s charitable status is based on its role in sharing information about the railroad history of the upper Midwest during the Golden Age of Railroads, 1880 – 1916. Gifts to this fund help to care for our archival collection, maintain and create exhibits and improve our ability to reveal the wonders of the past at the highest quality possible.


Coach car interior painting

Volunteers paint the interior of one of Mid-Continent’s DL&W coach cars used for on demonstration train rides.

Mid-Continent Railway Museum is more than just a museum, we are an operating railway. The maintenance of operating cars and locomotives falls upon the Mechanical Department. Whether it is applying a new coat of paint, buying new wheels for the coaches, or repairing the air conditioner units of our First Class cars, our shop forces are always busy. A donation to the Mechanical Department helps us keep these cars and locomotives in service and earning revenue, thereby helping the museum twice with a single donation.


Ballast spreading machine

New ballast being spread on Mid-Continent’s track.

Ownership of our own railroad line grants Mid-Continent great operational flexibility. However, ownership of the railway also involves significant costs including regular inspections and maintenance of rails, ties, roadbed, bridges, highway crossings, and signals. Gifts made to this fund will help us maintain and improve what is perhaps Mid-Continent’s most important asset.

Buildings & Grounds

Mid-Continent Railway Museum aerial photo August 2011

Aerial view of Mid-Continent Railway Museum.

The least glamorous aspect of our work is the maintenance of a significant infrastructure consisting of buildings, lighting, sewer and water systems. These are things that are vital for a safe and comfortable visit for museum guests and volunteers as well as the protection of our key collection items. Even a virtual Tour of the Grounds will impart a fair idea how extensive this capital investment has become. Gifts made to this fund will help us maintain the things we often take for granted but are vital to operating a museum.

Special Projects

Most of the above programs are have multiple projects going on at any given time. If prefer to have your donation go toward a specific locomotive, car, structure, or other project, you can simply type the name of the project into the online donation form or write it inside the empty box on the printable donation form.

Recommended Special Projects:

  • New display building (Dorcy Project) – Mid-Continent is erecting a new 10,000 square foot building to help preserve and display the museum’s restored rolling stock. A generous bequest from the Laurence H. Dorcy Estate will cover most of the project costs, but an additional $93,000 is needed to complete the project. Follow the fundraising and project progress. Print the dedicated project donation/pledge form to accompany your donation.

    Proposed site plan for new display building.

    Proposed site plan for new display building.

  • DL&W 595 Matching Grant – The Emery Rail Heritage Trust has generously awarded Mid-Continent a $10,000 dollar-for-dollar matching grant toward rehabilitation of Delaware Lackawanna & Western No. 595’s wheels and trucks. Performing this overhaul is of critical importance to the museum because No. 595 is one of the cars upon which Mid-Continent relies on for being able to offer historic train rides to museum visitors. The $10,000 matching grant must be met by March 31, 2017. Follow the fundraising progress.

    Volunteers pulling a truck under DL&W 595

    Rolling temporary shop trucks under DL&W No. 595.