Museum Announces Opening of 42nd Season at NF. (5/14/05)
|Locomotive whistles and the conductor’s familiar call of “All Aboard” can be heard once again at the Mid-Continent Railway Museum in North Freedom, Wisconsin where train rides on board vintage coaches have been offered to the public since 1963.
“Our train rides offer a pleasant and affordable getaway for the whole family,” says Don Meyer, the museum’s manager. “With a setting reminiscent of an early 1900s rail yard, many of our guests feel as if they stepped back in time to a way of life that for most is little more than a distant memory.”
Mid-Continent, a designated historic site by the Wisconsin Historical Society, features a large collection of railroad cars and locomotives in addition to the ride. “We are in fact a work in progress,” Meyer relates, since museum staff and volunteers always have a restoration project in the works. “We are surprised, in fact, that our sanding and scraping of paint off an old locomotive has turned into such an attraction to our guests.”
Two of the museum’s prized locomotives received a face-lift last year as part of the preparations for the museum’s hosting of the Soo Line Historical Society’s annual meet. The work took place out in the open, where all the museum’s guests could watch the progress of the locomotives’ transformation, giving the museum its own version of an extreme makeover.
“We have four more projects underway,” reports Bill Buhrmaster the museum’s Restorations Manager. Getting the cosmetic touch-up this year are two more steam locomotives: a 1907 Ten-Wheeler and a 1909 Shay-type.
Besides the rough art of refurbishing a steam locomotive, there is also fine art on display as part of the museum’s Depot Gallery. This year’s art show features the works of local artist Paul Schmidt. Paul’s love of rail-themed art was nurtured in his own work experience as a track inspector for the Burlington Northern Railroad.
Since his retirement his second career has given him an opportunity “to share through my art the vitality of an industry that shaped the early development of our country.” Paul’s work is for sale, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the museum’s many programs.
“There’s always something going on at the museum for visitors to see and experience,” boasts museum president, Jeff Bloohm.