2021 COVID-19 Impacts

Mid-Continent Railway Museum is presently closed as part of its normal seasonal closure. After having remained closed for the entirety of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mid-Continent is currently planning to reopen its doors to the public starting on May 8, 2021. Here are some important notices about the planned 2021 season.

Schedule Changes

In response to anticipated decreases in the number of visitors and greater operating challenges during a pandemic, Mid-Continent has reduced its museum and train ride schedule to Saturdays and Sundays only in 2021. Typically Mid-Continent would be open 7-days-a-week during the summer. Please see the Train Ride Info page for full schedule information.

Groups of 20 or people may still be able to be charter a train ride on weekdays between May and October. Please contact our office with any group inquiries.

Increased Likelihood of Cancellations

Due to the evolving pandemic situation, Mid-Continent Railway Museum reserves the right to cancel or alter schedules from those advertised. Please refer to www.midcontinent.org for the most up-to-date schedule information. 

In the event train departures are canceled, reservation-holders will be notified as soon as possible and will be offered a full cash-back refund or the ability to transfer the ticket value to a future departure or a gift card.

Book with Confidence

During the pandemic, we understand that last-minute changes of plans may become necessary due to the need to follow self-isolation protocols, quarantines, or if experiencing the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. For this reason, we have adjusted our cancellation policy. If you need to cancel your booking due to COVID-19 related concerns, please contact us as soon as possible to be offered the greatest flexibility on refunds or rebooking.

Health Safety Precautions

Mid-Continent is in the process of establishing its health and sanitation guidelines for our trains and museum property. More information on this is expected to be made available closer to the museum reopening date as these plans are finalized.

Volunteers and Member Activities

As part of pandemic safety and cost-reduction measures, the Mid-Continent Railway Museum property remains closed to all non-essential personnel through April 3, 2021. No on-site volunteering sessions will occur before that date. Additionally, the member meeting and banquet originally scheduled for April 3, 2021 has been canceled. Upon the return of volunteering sessions, previously adopted social distancing and safety protocols will remain applicable.

Contacting Mid-Continent

To assist with minimizing risk to office staff, our administrative office hours during the winter and early spring are expected to remain very limited. Phone messages, emails, and postal mail are typically read and responded to within two business days.

EJ&S #2 Awarded Grant from Tom E. Dailey Foundation

Mid-Continent Railway Museum is happy to announce the museum has been awarded a $1,500 grant from the Tom E. Dailey Foundation. This grant will assist Mid-Continent with creating reproductions of the original coach seat design to appear in the historic East Jordan & Southern #2 passenger car, the oldest railcar in Mid-Continent Railway Museum’s collection.

EJ&S No. 2 was originally built in 1864 as coach 112 for the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada. It was purchased in 1902 by the EJ&S and was operated on that railroad until abandonment in 1961. After purchase by a private party, the coach was donated and moved to the Mid-Continent Railway Museum in 1963. Exterior restoration is nearly complete after five years of volunteer work. Attention is now turning to the car’s interior. Blinds and window sash have been reproduced and refinishing of the interior is now in progress.

The next step in the restoration, and the most costly, is the production of replacement seats. Reproduction coach seats are required because all seats were removed when the East Jordan & Southern ended regular passenger service in 1946.

The seat ends are ornate cast iron of a design patented by George Buntin which is different than the seats found in other cars at the museum. Volunteers plan to build the wooden frames for the seat backs and seat bottoms. Finally, upholstery work will be done professionally by a skilled contractor. This grant from the Tom E. Dailey Foundation will help begin the process of making the seat backs and bottom cushions. Work on the wooden frames and seat cushions is anticipated to take place this winter with upholstery expected to be completed in 2021.

East Jordan & Southern #2 was among the first cars acquired by Mid-Continent Railway Museum and was used as a ticket office during the museum’s first year of operations at North Freedom as seen in this 1963 photo. The car is currently receiving a comprehensive restoration in Mid-Continent Railway Museum’s Car Shop. Ron Jones photo.

ALSO SEE:  Mid-Continent’s Equipment Roster page for EJ&S #2 

Mid-Continent to Remain Closed for Remainder of 2020

For the safety of our patrons, volunteers, and staff as the pandemic continues in Wisconsin and across the nation, Mid-Continent Railway Museum will remain closed for the remainder of 2020. This closure includes the cancellation of all train rides, tours, and special events including Vintage Rail Car Tours, Harvest Limited, Autumn Color Weekend, Pumpkin Special, and Santa Express. The museum displays will also remain closed to the public.

Mid-Continent Railway Museum is a seasonal operation that closes each winter. This means the Museum’s reopening and return of train rides are presently scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 8, 2021, although this too is subject to change if necessary.

We are saddened to have not been able to welcome visitors to explore railroad history at Mid-Continent this year and hope you will plan to join us next year. You can stay up-to-date with any future announcements, restoration updates, and more by subscribing to Mid-Continent emails.

Impacts on Volunteer Sessions and Member Events

As part of the Mid-Continent’s closure for the remainder of 2020, the following changes are in effect.

  • Volunteer work sessions organized by department superintendents can continue as they are now until September 20, 2020. To conserve resources, all museum buildings will be closed to members and departments from September 21, 2020 through May 2021.
  • The Annual Meeting of the Members and banquet scheduled for November 7, 2020 is canceled.

Supporting Mid-Continent During the Pandemic Closure

Mid-Continent relies on ticket sales as a primary source of revenue so the COVID-19 pandemic closure has had and will continue to have a significant impact on the organization’s finances. Steps have been taken to minimize operating costs and stretch our available funds as far as possible, but some expenses like insurance premiums, loan payments, and essential maintenance do not go away. Donations made to Mid-Continent’s General Fund will directly help offset these expenses and are greatly appreciated. If you would like to assist Mid-Continent during this time, please visit our Donation page.