C&NW #1385 Wins Grant from John H. Emery Rail Heritage Trust

Mid-Continent Railway Museum’s restoration of Chicago & North Western #1385 was recently named one of the winners of the first ever round of grants offered by the John H. Emery Rail Heritage Trust. The grant gives the C&NW 1385 project a $10,000 boost toward the production of a new boiler. A new boiler is major component of the 1907 locomotive’s overhaul to make it steam-worthy well into the 21st century.

check presentation

Tom Sharratt and Naurine Lennox present a $10,000 check from Emery Rail Trust to Mid-Continent Railway Museum, accepted by museum President Jeff Bloohm. The grant is in support of Chicago & North Western #1385’s new boiler.

Sometimes referred to as Mid-Continent’s “ambassador of steam,” the C&NW #1385 was the first steam locomotive ever operated by Mid-Continent Railway Museum in 1963. In the 1980s it was used by the Chicago & North Western Railway as their goodwill ambassador to the public, traveling extensively on the C&NW network and bringing operating railroad history to many thousands of people in their hometowns. At Mid-Continent Railway Museum’s North Freedom, Wisconsin location, the locomotive was often seen in service pulling museum visitors up and down the former C&NW branch line which Mid-Continent calls home.

These past achievements and future plans for the locomotive fit perfectly within the goals of the John H. Emery Rail Heritage Trust. Among the criteria Mr. Emery established for the Trust were:

  1. To help re-create and preserve, to the extent possible, the rail passenger travel experience as it was in the U. S. from approximately 1920 through 1960.
  2. To preserve and restore to working order rolling stock and other working artifacts from the “Golden Age” of the U.S. rail passenger service.
  3. The emphasis shall be on organizations that offer the general public an opportunity to ride historically significant equipment over historic rail lines. The Trust may, however, support organizations that would use modern equipment to restore passenger service over historic rails, or to build new rails on which to operate historic equipment in passenger service.

John Emery, a native of Chicago and lover of classic passenger trains, founded the Trust as way to support ongoing efforts to preserve examples of America’s great passenger trains. Emery was a world traveler, visiting over 125 nations. As an avid railway buff both abroad and in the U.S., John rode the rails as often as possible. Utilizing his talents as a businessman, investor, and accomplished writer, he grew to become a great philanthropist, sharing his success through multiple foundations. Emery passed away peacefully in 2012 at the age of 75. Now his legacy lives on through the foundations he established and the Advisory Committee now appointed to continue his philanthropy.

In all, 11 grants totaling $162,500 were awarded in this first series offered by the Emery Rail Heritage Trust. Grant winners spanned the country from Tennessee to New England, New Mexico to Michigan. Among the grant winners were several other steam locomotive restorations, rolling stock, and infrastructure projects.

Summer 2015 Road Closure

Due to the ongoing construction of a US Highway 12 bypass around Baraboo, State Highway 136 in West Baraboo is closed while an interchange is constructed. The closure is expected last until mid-September 2015. Highway 136 is normally the most frequently used route to reach Mid‑Continent Railway … Continue reading

Steam Readiness Auction May 2, 2015

Steam power will soon be a reality once again at Mid-Continent. As part of the Steam-Readiness Program, certain items that do not fit the focus or needs of the museum will be offered at auction.

Open House – May 1, 2015 — 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Auction – May 2, 2015 — 10:00 a.m.

at North Freedom, Wisconsin


With ‘Full Steam Ahead’ the museum is offering many years of hidden treasures that do not fit the time period or focus under which the museum operates.

Included in the auction will be rolling stock, equipment, car and engine parts, rail, steam engine tires, and a large assortment of artifacts and memorabilia from C&NW, Soo Line, Canadian National, Illinois Central, Milwaukee Road, Burlington Northern, Monon, Rock Island, Baltimore & Ohio,  and many other railroads.  Items to be auctioned will be of interest to railroad museums, railroad companies, and all railroad enthusiasts.

Rolling Stock:  2 steam locomotives, caboose, Mt. Harvard coach/sleeper car, CN coach car, AC&Y cars, steam wrecker/cranes, tender, American crane.

Equipment and Parts:  Wheel lathe, LeRoi Self-Propelled Air Compressor, Grade-All Excavator, GMC truck, portable steam boiler, and much more.

Artifacts and Memorabilia: Many lanterns, conductor hats, collectible framed photos, old wall phones and teletype, old suitcases, some railroad dining china, boxes of date nails, many old timetables from various railroads, railroad dining menus, old railroad operations paperwork, and much more.

Other:  Large 12-ft wide metal ‘Chicago Great Western Freight Office’ outdoor sign, Elevated crossing shanty, HO model train sets (brass, Disney, and Marklin).

Final listing of items may change due to logistics and other considerations.



TERMS: 10 % Buyers Fee. Online bidder’s 13% buyer’s fee, 3% Convenience Fee for all Credit / Debit card (Master, Discover & Visa Cards) payments. No Tax Cash or Check, Positive Photo ID required, Bank letter of guarantee for all rolling stock paying with a check. $50 Fee on all Returned Checks. Everything sold AS-IS. No Refunds. Announcements made the day of auction have precedence over prior advertisements. All items must be removed day of sale, except rolling stock has 30 days and  must be prescheduled for pick-up.
UNITED COUNTRY HAMELE AUCTION & REALTY & UNITED COUNTRY BILL PERKINS AUCTION & REALTY: 1325 W. Wisconsin St. Portage, WI 53901 608-742-5000 Registered Wisconsin Auctioneers: Travis Hamele #2224 Pardeeville, WI. 608-697-3349, Bill Perkins #1956 Avalon, WI 608-755-1802

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2015 Trainman Class Scheduled

Join the Mid-Continent Railway Operating Crew

Here is a unique opportunity to be a part of our working railroad by joining the Mid-Continent Railway Museum Operating Department . We are now accepting applications for our training school beginning on April 18th.

What does a trainman do?

Note: The term ‘trainman’ is the historical job title used by railroads of the era and thus is used at Mid-Continent. Women can and do serve as trainmen as well and are encouraged to participate in all facets of museum operations.

Trainman inspecting train.

Trainman inspecting journal boxes.

Trainmen work alongside the conductor, fireman, and engineer to operate demonstration train rides for museum visitors. The position includes physical aspects: coupling/uncoupling cars, guiding train movements, inspecting cars, etc. It also includes social aspects: speaking with museum visitors and passengers, answering questions, and serving as a public face of the museum.

What is taught in the class?

During your four day training (two successive weekends) you’ll learn the basic operating and safety rules in use by Mid-Continent Railway during classroom sessions and then working outside with the museum’s equipment during the hands-on portion.

Eligibility requirements

Only Mid-Continent Railway Museum members ages 18 and above and in good standing are eligible. Four days of in-classroom training is required followed by individually scheduled student trips (job shadowing) and a final qualifying test. Persons qualified on other railroads are not exempted from the required training. Limited class space available and signup is offered on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Keep in mind that some aspects will require you to be physically capable of but not limited to performing such tasks as throwing switches, replacing coupler knuckles, minor rolling stock maintenance, climbing onto and off of equipment, and working in all types of weather conditions.

Do I have to to know a great deal about trains and railroad history to enroll?

Trainman operating switch stand.

A trainman throws a switch for MCRY #7.

What you need to know about train operations will be taught to you in class. As for general railroad and railroad history knowledge, there are no prerequisites or tests. You will learn a lot just by going through the class and student trips and being around fellow volunteers. Your instructors may have suggested reading materials for you as well.

How frequently is the class offered?

The trainman class is offered once per year, each spring.

Is there a class to become a conductor or locomotive engineer?

Yes, but all new train crew volunteers must start as trainmen.

How much does the class cost?

The cost to attend is free, but you will need to equip yourself with the proper clothing and purchase a rule book which will be explained in the trainee’s invitation email.

What is the time commitment?

The training program last 4 days (April 18-19, 25-2, 9am-5pm). This must be followed up by completing several days of independently scheduled student trips prior the end of the season.

What if I am not a Mid-Continent Railway Museum member?

Museum membership is open to anyone and starts at $40.00 per year. For more information on membership, see the Join Us page.

How do I sign up for the class or find out more information?

Contact the Superintendent of Operations, Kelly Bauman, at operations@midcontinent.org

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Updated: Help Mid-Continent Obtain Critical Parts for the Cazenovia Southern No. 2 and other Museum Restoration Projects

Mid-Continent has an important opportunity to salvage items from derelict railcars in Minnesota that can be used to improve Mid-Continent’s collection

Mineral Point & Northern #202 at North Freedom, 1999; Jeff Haertlein photo

Cazenovia Southern #2 (Mineral Point & Northern #202) at North Freedom, 1999; Jeff Haertlein photo


Raise $10,000 to cover the costs of buying and shipping railcar parts for use in future Mid-Continent restorations, thereby saving the costly need to reproduce them from scratch

Succeed in raising the funds by September 30, 2014

Apply any excess funds raised toward restoration of Cazenovia Southern No. 2, a locally significant passenger car

Why Your Help is Needed

Within the Mid-Continent Railway Museum collection of equipment we arguably have one of the better collections in the country for wooden passenger cars. Each wooden passenger car has its own significance and importance to the collection. One particular car stands out as being the most historically significant car to Mid-Continent due to it meeting all of the criteria for our collection pieces AND it operated on a railroad in Sauk County, less than 25 miles away from North Freedom. This car is the Cazenovia Southern combine (ex-Mineral Point & Northern).

Read more about Cazenovia Southern No. 2 (ex-Mineral Point & Northern) by visiting it’s listing on our Equipment Roster page.

The car arrived at North Freedom as a car body only (no trucks, draft gear, platforms, etc.) on July 14, 1999. The car is largely unknown due to the fact that it is sitting under a tarp next to the freight house and northeast of the MCRM office. Due to the importance and significance of this car it is surely deserving to be restored to operating condition. In order to do this the car will have to wait its turn to be routed through the MCRM Car Shop, not to mention raise the necessary funds for restoring the car. While it will be a number of years before the Restoration Department can tackle this restoration project there is a call for help RIGHT NOW that will position the car to be completely restored in the future.

Due to the fact that the car is a body only we are desperately in need of the appropriate passenger car trucks, draft gear, brake equipment and related iron parts to restore this car. If Mid-Continent had to reproduce these items it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. We’d certainly prefer to not do this so we have been constantly been looking for opportunities to acquire the necessary parts from another car.

With the recent passing of Don Lind (owner of the Minnesota & Western RR, Annandale, Minnesota) it came to our attention that his collection of rolling stock was up for sale. Within the collection there were three heavily deteriorated passenger cars that could be sources for the parts we are in need of. In late April Mid-Continent members toured the site and confirmed that the necessary and appropriate parts for the Cazenovia Southern combine are available. Since then a price has been agreed to with the seller and a plan to remove, load and transport the parts from Annandale, Minn. to North Freedom has been initiated.

 Update 10/21/2014: Mission Accomplished!

Our mission has been accomplished with the generosity of donors and the hard work of Mid-Continent Railway Museum volunteers. The campaign to salvage items for use on the Cazenovia Southern coach-baggage car and other equipment has been a great success! The goal of $10,000 was reached and exceeded, totaling $10,250 with the help of 18 contributors.


  • Becker, Peter
  • Bloohm, Jeff
  • Buhrmaster, William
  • Busse, Jim
  • Dipping, Richard
  • Dorner, Tom
  • Drifke, Lawrence
  • Harrington, Mike
  • Jax, John
  • Kloss, Ronald
  • Maginniss, Leigh
  • Mathias, Stuart
  • Mennenga, Jerry
  • Moore, Michael
  • Polaske, Robert
  • Theroux, Matthew
  • Wartinbee, Ron
  • Wolfmeyer, Pamela


  • Buhrmaster, William
  • Busse, Jim
  • Dipping, Richard
  • Ham, Chuck
  • Lichter, Skip
  • Merzdorf, Randy
  • Miller, B G
  • Potthast, Richard
  • Saulvola, Dean
  • Schmidt, Floyd
  • Theroux, Matt
  • Wantz, Dave

In terms of volunteers, Dave Wantz’s help was very significant as he made some 14 trips to the Annandale, MN site to assist with site preparations and parts removal. Dave was assisted many times by Minnesota resident and Mid-Continent member Chuck Ham. Racking up the most miles driven to help on the effort was Richard Potthast who made five trips to the Annandale site. Driving over 3,000 miles (total) as he hauled parts back to Mid-Continent.

The trucks and car parts purchased from the Minnesota & Western site are now safely and neatly stored away on the MCRM property. From all aspects, this effort has been a success and a tremendous boost to the eventual restoration of the Cazenovia Southern car.

The car must still wait in line for a turn in the Car Shop and further fundraising will be needed to pay for additional materials to complete the project but this is crucial first step. The quick actions of museum leaders, the generosity of donors, and the dedication of volunteers all allowed Mid-Continent Railway Museum to seize this opportunity and will pay dividends many times over when restoration of Cazenovia Southern No. 2 begins in earnest.

If you wish to contribute toward the future restoration of Cazenovia Southern No. 2, please visit the donation page and write “Cazenovia Southern #2” on your check’s memo line or on the printable donation form. Alternatively, consider donating to the broader “Wood Car Restoration Fund” to help speed along current restoration projects in the most efficient manner possible.

collapsed passenger railcar with excavator

Collapsed railcar at former Minnesota & Western site being dismantled for parts.

volunteer applying linseed oil to car trucks

Volunteer Richard Dipping applies linseed oil to protect the 7-ft (wheelbase) truck salvaged from Wisconsin Central No. 331, a car formerly in the Minnesota & Western collection. These trucks will ultimately end up underneath Milwaukee Lake Shore & Western No. 63, replacing the inaccurately sized trucks currently used.

car trucks being carried by forklift

One of the two newly acquired 8-ft trucks from the Minnesota & Western site is carried into storage at Mid-Continent Railway Museum. This item will be repaired and put to use under Cazenovia Southern No. 2 when restoration of that car is completed. No. 2 did not have it’s own trucks when it was donated to Mid-Continent Railway Museum in 1999.

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