MCRM Remains Closed to Public, Volunteer Sessions Set to Resume

Museum and Train Rides Remain Closed

Mid-Continent Railway Museum remains closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Museum’s Board of Directors is meeting regularly to review the latest pandemic data and coordinate changes to Mid-Continent’s practices and procedures that are needed to allow museum operations to safely resume. At this point, no reopening date is set; however, it known that Mid-Continent will remain closed at least through the month of August.

Volunteer Work Sessions to Resume June 6th

Starting Saturday June 6th, Mid-Continent members will be allowed to return to museum property to volunteer in the shops and facilities. For now, only Mid-Continent members will be allowed to volunteer. Non-members looking to volunteer will either need to wait for restrictions to be lifted or must join as a member before attending a work session.

Members will be required to follow guidelines laid out by the department superintendent, foreman, or project manager and must sign up in advance for work sessions to make sure sessions do not exceed 10 participants as well as to make sure they receive important notices about safety. More information is available on the Members Webpage.

Instructions for how to access the members’ webpage can be found on the front of each Steamer! newsletter and the back cover of each Mid-Continent Railway Gazette magazine.

Supporting Mid-Continent During this Crisis

Train ride ticket sales represent the largest portion of Mid-Continent Railway Museum’s annual income. The extension of the closure will cause a significant financial strain on the museum. Please consider supporting Mid-Continent in one of the following ways:

Mid-Continent is an independently operated 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational corporation and is not funded by the state or any other government entity. All donations are tax-deductible.

Thank you for your understanding and support during this time. We look forward to welcoming you back aboard in the future!

Originally posted: June 1, 2020
Last updated: June 29, 2020

DULUTH Update: Spring 2020

by William Buhrmaster, MCRM Restoration Dept. Manager

Although we’re not currently able to work on the DULUTH as planned due to the Coronavirus shutdown there still is some progress and news to report on.

Work inside the DULUTH took place during work sessions in February and March. Stu M. lead a crew of volunteers removing the deteriorated headlining panels in the sleeping section of the car. The panels have all been removed and the roof boards and carlines have now been exposed. From inside the car the lower roof boards and carlines look to be in very good condition with the exception of a few carlines and boards on the east side of the car.

I recently received an email from Bob Berghorst reporting that he has the mahogany veneer applied to the seat ends and he has received the first of the newly cast brass claw feet.  Bob is getting eight claw feet cast for the four seat ends that he is making. There are eight claw feet in the car and four claw feet were acquired from the Sault Ste. Marie last year when we acquired two of the seat ends from the SSM.

One of four original claw feet from the Sault Ste. Marie car, before and after cleaning and polishing for use in the DULUTH.

With a tip from Pete B., I recently purchased a Barney & Smith corner sink off of eBay. The sink came at a very reasonable price and the buyer generously donated the shipping cost from California. The sink is close to what we need in the smoking room with the exception that it does have a provision for a drinking water tank. We can use the sink in the DULUTH unless a better or more appropriate sink surfaces down the road. Photos of the sink are attached.

Barney & Smith sink purchased on eBay for use in the DULUTH’s smoking room.

I have also completed the restoration of the nine coach lamp roof vents that were donated to MCRM last summer thanks to Bob K.’s sister and brother in-law’s efforts in North Dakota last summer. With seven lamps in the car and two vents per lamp we are still in search of five more vents.

before view of roof vent with rust and peeling paint and after view of vent painted black

Before and after view of a coach lamp roof vent. The vent was salvaged from a car in North Dakota and restored for use on the DULUTH.

That’s the latest.

Coronavirus Update: MCRM Closed Until Further Notice

Closure Update

UPDATE: The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s strike-down of the Governor Ever’s Safer-at-Home order on May 14th has not changed the closed status of Mid-Continent Railway Museum. Safety is always our first concern when it comes to our visitors and volunteers. Despite the absence of a state order, Mid-Continent is remaining closed until we are confident we can welcome visitors back safely.


On May 5th, Mid-Continent’s Board of Directors voted unanimously the keep the Museum closed to the public until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This action was necessary to protect our employees, members, and visitors from contracting the virus while at the Museum.

The Board will re-evaluate on a month-by-month basis when it will be safe to open the museum and coach train rides again to the public.

During the closed period, all buildings and display areas will be inaccessible to the public. There will be no train rides or dining services. Any passengers with reservations on upcoming trains will be contacted and offered full refunds.

Due to higher exposure risk while eating and the very limited ability to social distance within our dining cars, all onboard dining trains are canceled for the remainder of 2020.

Supporting Mid-Continent During this Crisis

Train ride ticket sales represent the largest portion of Mid-Continent Railway Museum’s annual income. The extension of the closure will cause a significant financial strain on the museum. Please consider supporting Mid-Continent in one of the following ways:

Mid-Continent is an independently operated 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational corporation and is not funded by the state or any other government entity. All donations are tax-deductible.

Thank you for your understanding and support during this time. We look forward to welcoming you back aboard in the future!

Restoration Work Sessions and Operating Department Training Canceled

Due to the continuing risk posed by the Coronavirus pandemic, the following changes have been made to scheduled volunteer opportunities.

  • All Restoration Department work sessions are canceled until further notice.
  • The new Trainman training course has been canceled. This course may be rescheduled for a later date in 2020.
  • The new Conductor training course for 2020 has been canceled and is not expected to be offered this year.

For specific questions relating to these program cancelations, contact the department superintendent or department manager.

Coronavirus Update: MCRM to Remain Closed through June 5th

For the safety of our visitors, volunteers and employees during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, Mid-Continent Railway Museum has taken the proactive step of delaying the start of its 2020 operating season. Previously, Mid-Continent was to open to the public on weekends starting May 9th. This change means the museum will now remain closed to the public through Friday, June 5th. The new season opening date is Saturday, June 6th. This too may be subject to change as the situation develops.

What this Means for Museum Guests

  • All scheduled trains during the month of May are canceled, including Coach/Caboose trains, the May 9th Pizza Train and Elegant Dinner Train, and the May 10th Mother’s Day Brunch Trains.
  • Any persons with reservations for trains in May will be contacted within the next few days. Affected individuals will be offered a refund, the option to reschedule to a future departure, or the ability to apply the balance to a gift card good toward future visits.
  • The museum property, including all displays and gift shop will be closed to the public through June 5th. Please note the museum property is not public land. It is trespassing to enter museum property while closed.

If You Need to Contact Mid-Continent Staff

  • As long as the State of Wisconsin’s “Safer at Home” order is in effect [currently May through 26th] and possibly longer, the museum’s administrative office will remain closed for the safety of our employees. Phones will not be staffed; however, voicemail messages will be checked regularly and responded to within 2 business days. To leave a voice message for museum staff, call 608-522-4261.
  • Museum email addresses will continue to be monitored and responded to, including the museum’s general email address: inquiries@midcontinent.org. Email is the best method of communication during this time.
  • All U.S. Postal Service mail sent to Mid-Continent continues to be checked and processed like normal.

Additional Impacts on 2020 Schedule

Further changes to the 2020 schedule including additional cancellations may be required as the timeline of the pandemic and its impact on tourism becomes clearer. Please check back on our website for the latest schedule information before your visit. Persons with reservations will be contacted if their departure is impacted.

What this Means for Museum Volunteers

The State of Wisconsin’s “Safer at Home” order is currently set to expire at 8:00 AM on April 24th but may be extended. [UPDATE 4/16/2020: The “Safer at Home” order has been extended through 8:00 AM on May 26th]. During the time the order is in effect no departments will be allowed to work on projects on Mid-Continent property. This order includes staying in private rail cars.

 

Thank you for your understanding and stay healthy.

Sincerely,

The Mid-Continent Railway Historical Society President & Office Staff