We are very pleased to announce that Mid-Continent Railway Museum has received a $15,000 grant from the John H. Emery Rail Heritage Trust (ERHT) for use on Mid-Continent’s Duluth South Shore & Atlantic sleeping car “DULUTH”.
The DULUTH was built in 1902 by the Barney & Smith Car Company. The 10-section sleeping car operated daily on the DSS&A’s passenger train between Sault Ste. Marie, MI and Duluth, MN until 1934. After the car was taken out of service it was sold to a private resident of Laurium, MI and it spent the next 81 years as a summer cabin on the shore of Lake Superior. In 2015 the car was donated to MCRM and in 2016 the DULUTH was moved to the MCRM, where restoration work began to return the car to its original configuration and operating condition. For additional historical information, see the DULUTH’s Roster Page.
Much work has been done to date to restore the car. To date, volunteers and employees have dedicated a combined 3,200+ hours working on the DULUTH. This 2022 grant from the ERHT will enable MCRM to focus on the sleeping compartment, making new stained glass windows and performing some exterior work. Once this phase is completed, restoration of the car’s other interior sections, seat upholstery, carpeting and the exterior restoration will take place as separate phases of the whole project.
This is the second grant the John H. Emery Rail Heritage Trust has awarded to the DULUTH project. The Trust previously awarded $9,000 for the DULUTH in 2018 and has supported other museum projects as well, including the C&NW #1385 steam locomotive and the museum’s DL&W #595 coach car. Mid-Continent Railway Museum sincerely thanks the John H. Emery Rail Heritage Trust for their most generous grant.
About the John H. Emery Rail Heritage Trust:
The John H. Emery Rail Heritage Trust was created by John Emery, a native of Chicago, and a lover of the classic passenger trains of America. The Trust was founded as a way to support Mr. Emery’s interests in the passenger trains of the 1920s through the 1950s. The Trust operates as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) foundation
Very good progress was made on the DULUTH project in 2021 thanks to a great crew of volunteers, contractors and hired help. The primary focus was to work on restoring the 10-section sleeping compartment but a lot of other areas and parts of the car were also worked on during the year. The most noticeable progress on the car has to be the interior woodwork that has been stripped of its 120 year old varnish and shellac. What has reappeared is beautiful mahogany and marquetry throughout the car. Another significant milestone for 2021 was the upper sleeping berths and lower berth seat ends, as they were completed and delivered to the museum. This included six replicated upper berths and four restored (original) upper berths. The berths are absolutely beautiful and we look forward to the day when they are reinstalled in the car. Underneath the car significant progress was made the air and hand brakes. As of the end of the year we now have functioning air brakes and the hand brake system is 95% complete.
Photos and additional information on the progress made on the DULUTH Project during 2021 follows.
Completed the construction and finishing (staining/varnishing) of the (6) new upper berths
Completed the construction and finishing (staining/varnishing) (6) new lower berth seat ends
Applied final finish (stain/varnish) to the (4) original upper berths
Delivered all of the completed berths, seat ends, seat cushion frames to the museum
All of the old finish (shellac) has been removed from the existing woodwork in the sleeping compartment, men’s smoking room and the women’s toilet room. This work was performed by hired help due to the extensive scope of this work and the large number of work hours required.
All of the clerestory windows were removed from the car. New windows are being made as the railroad revised the design of these windows and eliminated the original stained glass.
Sent out 100+ pieces of interior trim and wood parts to be chemically stripped
(12) sets of new seat cushion frames were made. Each set includes a head rest, seat back and seat bottom
(12) sets of seat cushion support frames and seat back top rails were made
(12) pairs of seat cushion support blocks were made and finished
Test fit the revised berth partition overlay piece (prototype)
Material was purchased for reproducing the headliners in the car
Men’s Smoking Room
Volunteers have further developed the drawings for the missing Smoking Room and Men’s Toilet walls
Removed the deteriorated headlining panel along the east wall.
Ordered a replacement wall panel (for above the three windows) that had significant water damage
Continued to remove the roof material (rolled asphalt and tar) off of the car. The roof is presently approximately 75% stripped and the majority of the wood on the roof deck appears to be in very good condition
(9) new oval window frames (mahogany) were made
(25) new outer window frames (mahogany) were made
160 feet of new poplar window sills have been made for the car at an area technical college
We have started to remove some of the deteriorated wood siding and trim from the car
Air and Hand Brakes
Completed the fabrication and installation of all of the air brake cylinder levers and rods
Tested the functionality of the air brakes
Finalized the hand brake system design
Completed the installation of all of the hand brake levers, rods , supports and guides under the car
Remaining work on the hand brakes involves installing the hand brake levers (handles), stems and support bracket in each vestibule
Parts and Hardware
Cleaned, restored and delivered over 400 pieces of berth and sleeping compartment hardware
Presently 95% of the berth and sleeping compartment hardware has been obtained, reconditioned and restored
Cleaned and restored the hardware and rollers for the (25) window shades
Secured a Baker heater for the car. The original one had been previously removed from the car
Updated the list of the sleeping compartment work tasks and sequence of activities
Obtained a proposal for reproducing additional wood parts for the car
Updated the three year restoration plan
Developing 2022+ grant requests
A total of $35,185.12 was donated (plus $1,000 pledge) to the DULUTH Project during Nov. 1, 2020-Oct. 31, 2021 fiscal year.
The DULUTH Sleeping Car “Matching Your Funds Drive” campaign kicked off in 2Q 2021 and met its goal in the 4Q of 2021 by raising a total of $30,000
The “Giving Tuesday Fundraising Challenge” held on November 30, 2021 raised a total of $2,200
A total of $41,851.79 was expended on the project during the Nov. 1, 2020-Oct. 31, 2021 fiscal year. This is a combination of labor, contractor and material costs.
In 2021 Volunteers logged (418) man hours of time on the DULUTH project.
Report by William Buhrmaster MCRM Restoration Department January 8, 2022
A $75,000 fundraising effort is presently underway to allow major material acquisition and some labor cost for the DULUTH to allow its restoration to move forward. This post will be updated regularly to show progress toward reaching that goal.
To help Mid-Continent restore the DULUTH to its former glory, please consider making a donation to the DSS&A Sleeper DULUTH Fund. Donating is tax-deductible and easy to do. You can make your donation via mail or donate online using the Donate button.
Be sure to write in “DSS&A Sleeper DULUTH Fund” on the printable donation form or check memo line if sending a donation by mail. Credit/debit card donations can also be accepted via phone at 608-522-4261 or 800-930-1385 by speaking to our staff during administrative office hours Monday-Friday.
The fundraising total shown is as of February 4, 2022. The fundraiser began in May 2019. Total excludes monies raised through the Buy-A-Berth campaign and Matching Your Funds matching fund drive.
A donor has made a pledge for this Giving Tuesday (Nov. 30, 2021) to match up to $1,100 of donations received today for the DSS&A DULUTH sleeping car restoration. Show your support for the DULUTH project by helping Mid-Continent take advantage of this generous match offer and make a donation today! All donations are tax-deductible.
Donations can be made through our Facebook page for maximum giving effect – meaning Facebook does not charge Mid-Continent any transaction fees for donations received through their platform.
Don’t have Facebook? You can also donate to the DULUTH project via PayPal (accepts all major credit/debit cards).
Your help is needed to keep the DULUTH sleeping car project moving ahead as part of the multi-year restoration plan. To keep the project on schedule, Mid-Continent Railway Museum is announcing a matching fund drive with a goal of raising $30,000 for the project by the end of 2021.
What This Fund Drive is For
The purpose of this fund drive is to raise needed funds for several key areas of the car’s restoration, including:
restoring the sleeping compartment woodwork and components
restoring the interior ceilings and headliners
restoring/recreating the stained glass windows
purchase new poplar siding and trim for the exterior
purchase green plush fabric for the seats
Double Your Gift!
A select group of individuals has generously pledged to match donations dollar-for-dollar up to $15,000 to help us reach our goal of $30,000! Now we need your help to take full advantage of the matching offer and to have the necessary funding for restoration work through 2022.
To offer more flexibility and options for donors to take advantage of this matching offer, payment can be deferred until June of 2022 provided a pledge is made by the end of 2021.
Update: GOAL ACHIEVED!
Thank you to our donors for helping us achieve our $15,000 goal. YOU are the reason these restorations happen and our organization cannot thank you enough.
While donations above the $15,000 mark won’t be matched dollar-per-dollar they still make a big impact- so feel free to continue to earmark donations for DULUTH. More work and more donations will be needed to bring the DULUTH car all the way to completion.
Please stay tuned to our social media, website and email list for updates on the restoration progress of this turn of the century sleeping car.
How to Donate
Making your donation to the DULUTH project and getting it matched is easy and takes only a few minutes.
Donate by Check
Donations by check can be made out to Mid-Continent Railway Museum and mailed to:
Mid-Continent Railway Museum P.O. Box 358 North Freedom, WI 53951
Be sure to write “DULUTH Matching Fund Drive” on the check memo line so we can properly process your donation.
Donate by Charge Card or PayPal
You can donate instantly using any major credit or debit card or by PayPal.
We need your help to reach $15,000 in donations for the DULUTH so that we can collect the match and raise the full $30,000 for the project. This page will be updated on a regular basis to show our progress toward that goal.