Mid-Continent Railway Museum has been working on restoring the oldest and most complete wooden sleeping car in the country to its original beauty and operating condition. Thanks to many supporters and generous donations the car was acquired and moved to the Mid-Continent Railway Museum in September 2016. Upon arrival, the car was placed on a pair of 6-wheel trucks and within 12 months Mid-Continent volunteers had installed couplers and draft gear. This summer the air brake system including the air brake cylinder, reservoir and all of the air piping was completed. Inside the car, the missing berth partitions and lower berth seatbacks have been replicated and installed.
The next step in the program is to replicate the missing upper and lower berths that will be installed between each of the berth partitions. New berths are required as the past owners removed 8 of the 10 berths from the car over 80 years ago. The upper berths are challenging to reproduce due to their curved shape and the fine marquetry patterns set into mahogany veneer. Fortunately, we have located a master woodworker and marquetry expert in Michigan that have the needed skills and abilities to accurately reproduce the missing berths from the DULUTH. In order to replicate the missing berths, we must raise $32,000 to get the DULUTH one step closer to being a restored masterpiece.
Introducing the “BUY A BERTH” Fund Drive
To fully restore the sleeping section of the DULUTH, your help is needed to raise $32,000 for replicating the upper and lower berth seat ends. With the “BUY A BERTH” Fund Drive donors can donate towards replicating the eight missing upper or lower berths. With a $1,500 donation (for a lower berth) or a $2,500 donation (for an upper berth) we will be able to get a berth replicated and you’ll have your name associated with one of the berths in the car. Donors that make a donation to the “BUY A BERTH” Fund Drive in the full amount of a berth ($1,500 or $2,500) will have their name placed on a plaque mounted inside the car. All donations less than $1,500 will be pooled together to go towards the cost of replicating a berth.
How You Can Help
Please consider making a donation to the DSS&A sleeper DULUTH “BUY A BERTH” Fund Drive and help put the berths back into the DULUTH sleeping car.
You can donate online by clicking the Donate button. This will take you to our secure PayPal payment portal.
You can also donate by mail by sending a check to:
Mid-Continent Railway Historical Society
PO Box 358
North Freedom, WI 53951
Please be sure to write “DULUTH Sleeper— BUY A BERTH” in your check memo line, in the online donation form, or in the special projects box of our printable donation form.
During a four-day work session held May 17-20, 2019 a total of 14 volunteers were on hand for one or more of the days to assist with several active projects in the Restoration Department. including the DULUTH. A crew of five including Paul S., BG, Richard P., Bob R. and Bill B. installed the balance of the air piping for the car. This was a significant amount of work as it included not only the trainline (1in dia.) but it also included piping for the two conductor valves, the retainer, and the signal line. Combined the air system includes some 250 feet of pipe with numerous fittings and over a dozen custom pipe bends. A total of 150 man-hours were spent on fabricating and installing the piping under the car. By 5 p.m. on Sunday the system was tested with shop air. The test quickly revealed that there was a leak inside the car where the conductor valve had been removed when the car was a cabin. Once the open end was capped off the system was pressurized and there were no leaks to be found. This was a very significant accomplishment and a big step forward.
I really appreciate all of the help that we had this past session. It was a lot of work but very rewarding.
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 on occasion 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-Saturday.
Fundraising total shown is as of November 1, 2019.
Fred B. has spent the past few months reproducing the six missing berth partitions and lower berth seat backs for the DSS&A DULUTH Sleeping car. The berth partitions are an integral component for the berths as they support the upper berths while also separating each berth in the car. The yellow pine pieces are all custom made per the original partitions in the car and they are recessed into the wall framing, the carlines, and the floor.
In late April Fred began installing the beth partitions in the car as seen in the photos below.
Detail of berth partitions in DSS&A DULUTH sleeping car. April 2019.
Berth partition installation progress in DSS&A DULUTH sleeping car. April 2019.
By the end of April, all six berth partitions were secured in place. The seat backs were also placed temporarily. The final installation of the seat backs will occur after additional work is completed inside the car including the reconstruction of the new berth seat ends.
Berth partitions and seatbacks installed in the DSS&A DULUTH sleeping car. April 29, 2019.
Next up… on the weekend of May 18-19 volunteers will once again be working on the air brake piping under the DULUTH. Plans call for completing the trainline, signal line and retainer piping during this work session.
Mid-Continent Railway Museum is grateful for the continued support by the Soo Line Historical & Technical Society (SLHTS) to restore the museum’s DULUTH sleeping car. In mid-July 2018, Mid-Continent Railway Museum received a donation of $1,250 from SLHTS to assist with ongoing work on the car.
SLHTS has a history of supporting the acquisition and restoration of Soo Line heritage equipment at Mid-Continent Railway Museum. This new donation is in addition to $600 SLHTS donated for the DULUTH prior to the car’s arrival to aid in transporting the car from the shores of Lake Superior to its new home in North Freedom, Wis. In recent years, SLHTS has also supported projects such as Soo Line caboose #99085, the Soo Line steam locomotive #2645.
Mid-Continent Railway Museum is pleased to join SLHTS in sharing Soo Line’s rich history with present and future generations.
In 1988, Mid-Continent played host to the Soo Line Historical & Technical Society’s annual convention which included a special train ride featuring equipment of Soo Line heritage.