Mid-Continent is home to the oldest surviving, and largely unmodified, gas-electric motor car built by the Electro-Motive Corporation, Montana Western #31. For 35 years now its engine has been silent, but with your help #31 will be repaired and returned to operation to once again delight visitors with rides along Mid-Continent’s rail line.
About Montana Western #31
Built in 1925, it was the 30th such car built by EMC. Not a locomotive, but not just a car either, #31 contains a 52-person capacity passenger compartment, a baggage compartment, and an engine compartment housing a 6-cylinder model 106A Winton gasoline engine powering a General Electric main generator which supplies electricity to a traction motor mounted on #31’s front truck.
This type of car, sometimes referred to as a doodlebug, was used on branch lines and shortlines when steam passenger trains were not warranted. A self-powered motor car like #31 could be operated by a just a two-person crew, a motorman and conductor.
The 31 was donated to Mid-Continent in 1966. Following a 4-year restoration, it began operations at Mid-Continent in 1972. It continued to operate occasionally until 1987 when the car was removed from service, in need of repairs to its original Winton engine. Since that time it has been a stationary display piece inside Mid-Continent’s Coach Sheds waiting for time and funding to repair its rare Winton engine.
The Plan: Return #31 to Operation
Now the time for waiting for repairs is over! Mid-Continent has a plan to put this car back into operating condition so visitors can once again enjoy a ride aboard this historically significant car, but your help is needed to make that happen. Mid-Continent has secured a $10,000 matching grant from one of the museum’s board members for the #31 project. This means your donations will be matched dollar-for-dollar until the $10,000 goal is reached.
Please consider donating now to make your donation go twice as far and help Mid-Continent bring this unique car back to life. Funds received will be used to make repairs to the original Winton engine. Any funds raised in excess of what is needed for the motor repair will be used toward other repairs needed to make the #31 operational once again, including light radiator work and roof repairs.
When complete, plans call to make the Montana Western #31 available for rides during select museum special events. This will give visitors a unique experience that hasn’t been available at Mid-Continent for over three decades.
How to Donate
Donating to the Montana Western #31 project is easy and can be done in just a few minutes.
Donate quickly and securely online with a credit card, debit card, or PayPal account.
Donate by Check
Send a check payable to Mid-Continent Railway Museum to:
PO Box 358
North Freedom, WI 53951
Please write “Montana Western #31” on the check memo line.
Donate by Phone
Donate with a credit or debit card by phone with a call to the Mid-Continent Railway Museum administrative office (Monday-Friday) at 608-522-4261 or toll-free 800-930-1385.
Mid-Continent Railway Museum is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. All donations are tax-exempt. A donation acknowledgment letter will be provided suitable for tax-deduction purposes.
For additional information about making donations, visit the Donations page.