Construction is underway on a new parts storage building at Mid-Continent Railway Museum. The new building, located along the western edge of the museum grounds, will help Mid-Continent to provide safe and secure storage for its inventory of parts used for historic railcar restorations and the operation of demonstration passenger trains.
Mid-Continent Railway Museum was hard-hit by flooding along the Baraboo River in 2008 and again in 2018. Increases in frequency and severity of flooding in recent years have made it a priority for the museum to minimize losses from any future floods by relocating items to higher and more secure storage areas.
A major step in this mission was accomplished in September 2019 with the opening of the Laurence Dorcy Building, a 10,500 square foot railcar display building. That building provides indoor display space for nine railcars and a locomotive as well as additional outdoor track space for another six cars, all located above the flood zone.
Aside from railcars and locomotives, Mid-Continent Railway Museum houses a collection of hard-to-find parts for the historic trains. Some parts were salvaged from railcars long-ago destroyed and are stored for use in the restoration of similar railcars. Other stored parts were removed during the restoration process and are kept for use as historical reference and templates for reproductions by Mid-Continent or other museums. To keep this collection of parts safe and secure, a dedicated storage building was sorely needed.
After seeing the success of the Laurence Dorcy Building, in late 2019 small group of donors looked at the museum’s next area of need and banded together to donate the entire cost of a new parts storage building. With this funding secured, things proceeded quickly. Contractors were hired and permits obtained in the early months of 2020. By early May, contractors began clearing and leveling the building site, clearing the way for construction to begin on July 2nd. The new structure is expected to be completed by later this summer.
The building will be 48 feet by 60 feet in size. A 20-foot ceiling clearance will provide plenty of overhead space for the shelving units that will line the walls and building center to allow maximum utilization of the new storage space. The building will also provide indoor parking spaces for the railroad’s maintenance vehicles. A wide gravel driveway will provide plenty of space for large vehicle access for loading and unload of materials.
Despite the ongoing closure from the COVID-19 pandemic, Mid-Continent Railway Museum continues to move forward. The museum is making strides to ensure the safety of the artifacts entrusted to it are provided a safe home. These behind-the-scenes improvements will ultimately lead to an improved museum experience for future visitors. Thanks to the generosity of the project donors, this new storage building is being constructed without a single dollar used from the museum’s operating fund, assuring that the project has no negative impact on the museum’s financial position during the pandemic while simultaneously providing jobs to local construction contractors.