Vintage Rail Car Tours

Vintage Rail Car Tours – September 23-24, 2017

Guided Tours Inside Mid-Continent Railway Museum’s Finest Restorations

Mid-Continent Railway Museum has a nationally-renowned, award-winning wooden car restoration program. While all museum visitors are able to see the beautiful restorations from the Coach Shed viewing platforms alongside the cars, much of the fine craftsmanship can only be appreciated from within the railcars. For one weekend only, September 23-24, 2017, museum visitors will have an opportunity to do just that. Guided tours will be provided by knowledgeable restoration volunteers and will take visitors beyond locked doors and inside these exquisitely restored railcars.

Tour of wooden passenger car

Guided Tour Cost

Adult = $10.00;  Children (ages 3-12) = $7.50

Visitors choosing to not take the guided tours can still enjoy the free, self-guided tour through museum, including the Coach Shed; however, self-guided tours do not allow access to car interiors.

Vintage Rail Car Tour tickets are not valid for train rides and train ride tickets are not valid toward guided Vintage Rail Car Tours.

Tour Schedule

A maximum of 15 people will be allowed on each tour to ensure a quality tour experience. Tours last approximately 1 hour and begin at the following times on September 23 & 24:

  • 10:00 AM
  • 10:30 AM
  • 11:00 AM
  • 11:30 AM
  • 12:30 PM
  • 1:00 PM
  • 1:30 PM
  • 2:00 PM
  • 2:30 PM
  • 3:00 PM
  • 3:30 PM

Due to the limited quantity of tickets available per tour time, advance reservations are encouraged. Also see our cancellation policy.

Tour Details

Guided tour areas are not wheelchair accessible and require steps to reach the car interiors.

The 2017 Vintage Rail Car Tours will include the following cars:

Badger #2

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Fish tank room inside Badger #2

Wisconsin Fish Commission #2, or Badger #2, commonly referred to as the “Fish Car,” represents Mid-Continent Railway Museum’s most ambitious car restoration to date. Built in 1913 for the purpose of restocking Wisconsin’s rivers, streams and lakes with fish from hatcheries, it is the only remaining original fish car in the nation and Mid-Continent Railway Museum’s very first acquisition.

In 2008 the Badger #2 underwent a $950,000 restoration to return it to it’s 1913 configuration and appearance. The car’s transformation became the subject of an episode of the television show Ultimate Restorations.

Great Northern #X582

caboose interior

Interior of Great Northern Caboose #X582, restored to 1941 appearance.

Never before featured in Vintage Rail Car Tour!

Caboose #X582, was built in Great Northern’s St. Cloud Car Shops, at St. Cloud, Minnesota between January 1 and August 6, 1925. The caboose was used extensively in North Dakota on the Minot Division and finished its career in South Dakota in work train service. In 1971, caboose was sold to a Mid-Continent member and moved to North Freedom in July. Its restoration took ten years

Montana Western #31

Montana Western #31 exterior

Montana Western #31 gas-electric motor car

Never before featured in Vintage Rail Car Tour!

Montana Western #31 is not a locomotive per se, nor a diesel. It is a gas-electric motor car powered by a Winton 6-cylinder engine, model 106A, using gasoline for fuel. It still has its original style engine and traction motor. It develops 227 horsepower using a General Electric main generator.

MW #31 is the oldest surviving, and largely unmodified, gas-electric car built by the Electro-Motive Corporation. It is close to as-built condition with its power plant, baggage area, smoking compartment, passenger area, and opposite end control area largely intact. The MW #31 was named a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) in 2002.

This type of powered rail car was used on branch lines and short lines, when a steam passenger train was not warranted. Only two crewmen–a motorman and a conductor–were required to operate the car. It could haul passengers, baggage, and a limited amount of freight. If the ruling grade was not too steep, it could tow one lightweight coach, for extra passenger capacity.

Copper Range Railroad #60

#60 interior, Aug. 15, 2011. Bill Buhrmaster photo.

Copper Range #60 interior

Copper Range #60 was built as a second-class coach in 1903 by the American Car & Foundry Co. (AC&F). The interior of the coach was originally stained and varnished with a Golden Oak finish. In addition to solid oak woodwork, the car had oak veneer headlining and ceiling panels. The seats were upholstered with cane (rattan). Heat to the car was provided by steam from a locomotive, while lighting was provided by four 2-burner kerosene lamps mounted on the ceiling. Electric side lights were added to the car in 1916. During the 1944 rebuild, the oak veneer ceiling panels were replaced with painted panels and the rattan seats were changed to red plush.

Mid-Continent purchased Copper Range #60 in 1982. Beginning in 1993, museum volunteers focused their efforts on performing a complete restoration. In May 2003, the restoration was complete and the car moved to the museum’s Coach Shed for public display. The car was restored to the appearance that it had during the passenger service period of 1944 to 1946.


UPDATE 9/18/2017

Mid-Continent Railway Museum’s Dining Services volunteers will be opening up Mid-Continent’s dining car fleet for viewing as well during the weekend (no tour tickets required). The dining cars are Soo Line diner-lounge #2017 and Chicago & North Western business car #440. The cars will be open throughout the day for viewing and are located in the display yard (near the depot). Sample tables will be set with the fine china used during Mid-Continent’s Elegant Dinner Trains.