60th Anniversary Celebration Activities and Train Rides

May 27, 2023

Come help us celebrate 60 years of sharing railroad history! On May 26, 1963, Mid-Continent welcomed visitors for the first train ride departing North Freedom. Now, 60 years later, we invite you to participate in a day of special train rides and activities.

Experience Two Unique Rides for the Price of One

For this special event, you get TWO train rides for the price of one! The two trains in operation during the event are called the Lackawanna Train and the Copper Range Train, named after the railroad the passenger cars came from.

Two train rides to experience.

Lackawanna Train

Our steel Lackawanna coach cars will be taking passengers on our usual 55-minute rides to Quartzite Lake and back, departing at 11 AM, 1 PM and 3 PM. Conductors collect tickets and share information on the history of the train and rail line. At the end of the line, check out the locomotive up close and learn about the process of coupling the locomotive to the train cars as it readies for the return trip. The Lackawanna Train offers the “traditional” Mid-Continent experience available to visitors each day Mid-Continent is open.

Copper Range Train

For this 60th-anniversary event, a special train made up of Mid-Continent’s two 120-year-old Copper Range wooden coach cars, #25 and #60, will be departing regularly from Coach Shed #2 for a ride through the museum train yard, past the depot, across the Baraboo River, and toward the interchange with the former Chicago & North Western mainline track, before returning to Coach Shed 2. The estimated roundtrip time is 35 minutes.

The Copper Range cars are exquisitely restored museum pieces that are rarely made available for rides and are normally reserved for display only. The last time tickets were sold on these cars was in 2013. Don’t miss this rare opportunity!

Docents will be aboard sharing information about Mid-Continent’s early years of operation and the history of the Copper Range cars.

Tickets for the Copper Range Train are INCLUDED with the purchase of any Lackawanna Train tickets departing on May 27th.

Buying Your Ticket

Tickets for this event are sold based on the departure time of the Lackawanna Trains.

Use the Buy Tickets button to select a Lackawanna Train departure time.

Adults (16-61) = $24
Seniors (62+) = $22
Children (3-15) = $13
Infants (0-2) = Free
Ticket fare covers BOTH train rides, museum admission, and tours!

Claiming Your Copper Range Train Tickets

At the time of picking up the tickets from the depot for your Lackawanna Train, you will be given the opportunity to select which Copper Range Train departure time you want to ride and will be issued a boarding pass for that selected time. These are issued from the ticket window on a first-come, first-served basis and cannot be reserved in advance.

Some Copper Range Train departure times are expected to fill up. If that happens, you’ll be offered boarding passes aboard the next departure time that has seating available.

Copper Range Railroad #60 coach car interior. Take a ride aboard Mid-Continent’s premier wooden railcar collection.

Ribbon Cutting and Train Ride Schedule

9:30 AMMuseum Opens
10:00-10:20 AMAnniversary opening remarks and ribbon cutting ceremony.
Public welcome to attend
10:30-10:55 AMShort ride on Copper Range Train
This departure limited to invited guests and Mid-Continent members only
11:00-11:55 AMLackawanna Train to Quartzite Lake and return
11:30 AM-12:05 PMCopper Range Train to C&NW Junction and Return
12:35-1:10 PMCopper Range Train to C&NW Junction and Return
1:00-1:55 PMLackawanna Train to Quartzite Lake and return
1:30-2:05 PMCopper Range Train to C&NW Junction and Return
2:35-3:10 PMCopper Range Train to C&NW Junction and Return
3:00-3:55 PMLackawanna Train to Quartzite lake and return
3:30-4:05 PMCopper Range Train to C&NW Junction and Return
5:00 PMMuseum Closes

All train rides begin and end at the museum grounds. E8948 Museum Road, North Freedom, WI 53951.

Additional Activities

  • Throughout the day, tours will be offered through the museum’s First Class cars used for dining trains
  • Cookies and refreshments will be available in the (stationary) First Class cars
  • Cab tours inside Domtar #1001, Mid-Continent’s most recently acquired locomotive
  • An exhibit on the history of the Copper Range Railroad, courtesy of Michigan Tech University Archives
  • Mid-Continent’s Restoration Department will be holding a Volunteer Open House in the Car Shop throughout the day. Come meet the team and learn more about getting involved in Mid-Continent’s railcar restorations.
  • Claim your commemorative 60th-anniversary ticket
Volunteering open house
The Car Shop Open House is a chance to learn more about becoming a restoration volunteer.

About our Museum and Demonstration Train Rides

Take a memorable round-trip train ride on a former branch line of the Chicago & North Western Railway nestled in a valley between the Baraboo Hills in rural Sauk County. Passengers ride in restored steel coaches built over a century ago. An authentically-attired conductor will call “all aboard!” before the train leaves from a historic wooden depot, built in 1894. Before or after the ride, explore the indoor/outdoor museum, with an outdoor display railyard and Coach Sheds 1 and 2 housing meticulously restored railcars. In all, over 45 railcars and locomotives are restored and on display.

A free self-guided tour pamphlet is available from the depot ticket office.

Explore the museum!

What to Know About this Event

  • Museum grounds are open from 9:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on days of operation. Museum admission is free to everyone. Train rides require a ticket purchase.
  • The Lackawanna Train ride time (55-minutes) can be reserved. Tickets for the Copper Range Train (35-minutes) are issued at the depot ticket window on a first-come, first-served basis and require the purchase of a Lackawanna Train ticket.
  • Tickets are not required for museum admission but are required for train rides.
  • All trains are powered by diesel locomotives.
  • Seating is not assigned.
  • Coach Trains are not climate controlled. Windows can be individually opened for ventilation.
  • Wheelchair lift available for Coach seating on the Lackawanna Train only. Access to some train seating areas may require the use of a transfer chair (provided). The Copper Range Train is not handicap accessible.
  • Food and beverages are not available nor permitted on trains.
  • The Copper Range Train ride route involves slow backup moves and multiple stops to throw track switches as the train navigates the railyard. The average speed of the Copper Range Train will be under 5 MPH.
When Mid-Continent Railway Museum first opened at North Freedom in 1963, it consisted of just a couple of locomotives and railcars and a single track. There was no depot, buildings, or railyard yet. Tickets were sold out of a passenger car parked at C&NW Junction in North Freedom.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the Lackawanna Trains and the Copper Range Trains?

A: The Lackawanna Train is made up of Mid-Continent’s Delaware, Lackawanna & Western steel coach cars. These are the “standard” cars used on 95% of Mid-Continent’s train rides. The Copper Range Train makes use of wooden passenger cars #25 and #60 from the Copper Range Railroad. These cars are expertly restored museum display pieces usually reserved for display only. In the world of railroad museums, riding these cars is the equivalent of riding a Van Gogh or Rembrandt painting.

Q: How do I buy tickets for the special Copper Range Trains?

A: Tickets to ride the Copper Range Train are included with the purchase of one of the day’s three Lackawanna Trains (departing at 11 AM, 1 PM and 3 PM). Copper Range Train tickets cannot be bought separately. Go to the BUY TICKETS page to begin your booking.

Q: Can I reserve a specific time for the Copper Range Train ride?

A: You cannot reserve a specific Copper Range Train departure time in advance. At the time of picking up your tickets for the Lackawanna Train from the depot ticket agent, you’ll also be offered a choice of which Copper Range Train departure time you want and will be issued a boarding pass for that time. Tickets for the Copper Range Train will be issued on a first-come, first-serve basis until all tickets for a given departure run out. You may wish to arrive early to pick up your tickets if you want to increase your chances of being able to select a specific departure time. Otherwise, there will be other activities, such as First Class car tours and Car Shop tours to keep you busy while you wait for the next available Copper Range Train departure.

Q: Must I ride the Lackawanna Train in order to be able to ride the Copper Range Train?

A: No. A ticket for the Lackawanna Train must be purchased to get access to the Copper Range Train, but if you prefer to skip the 55-minute ride on the Lackawanna Train and only want to take the 35-minute ride on the Copper Range Train, you may do so.

Q: Are the trains going to sell out?

A: Some departures, particularly during morning and mid-day may fill up and it may become necessary to wait until a later departure. If demand warrants, additional departures may be added later into the afternoon

Q: How long should I plan on being here for this event?

A: Each ticket grants you admission to the 55-minute Lackawanna Train ride, a 35-minute Copper Range Train ride, and tours in the First Class cars. There are also display buildings to explore and a museum gift store to check out. A minimum of two hours would be needed to experience everything, with three hours being recommended.

Q: I am a Mid-Continent Railway Historical Society member. Do I get to ride for free?

A: One of the perks of membership is that members ride free if space is available (i.e. paying customers receive priority). If the trains are nearing sold-out status, members will be asked to wait until departure time to see if tickets are still available or else may purchase a ticket.

Q: Can I ride the Copper Range Train more than once?

A: Each ticket purchase grants (1) train ride on the Lackawanna Trains and (1) train ride on the Copper Range Trains. Repeat rides would require the purchase of another ticket (except Mid-Continent members, subject to the above rule about space availability).

Q: Where is C&NW Junction?

A: C&NW Junction is where Mid-Continent’s tracks connect with the former Chicago & North Western Railway mainline “uptown” in North Freedom near Maple Street, located approximately 1/3 mile northeast of the museum depot. This is the opposite direction from what Mid-Continent’s train rides normally travel, making this a “rare mileage” trip.

Due to track conditions near the interchange, the Copper Range Trains will not travel all the way to the interchange/Maple Street, and will instead stop about 1/4 mile from the depot. C&NW Junction is historically significant to Mid-Continent because it is where the train rides departed during the museum’s first year of operation before the depot was erected at the museum’s current location. Passengers aboard these trains will have a chance to ride over the museum’s recently rebuilt Baraboo River bridge.

Q: Where is Coach Shed #2?

A: Coach Shed #2 is a display building located across the street from the museum’s North Freedom depot. In a museum first, trains will be loading passengers from within the shed to begin rides. This only applies to the Copper Range Trains. The Lackawanna Trains will board normally at the museum depot.

Q: Will food be available for purchase at Mid-Continent?

A: Unknown. We are trying to get a food vendor lined up for this event.