Gifts to Mid-Continent

The vision of Mid-Continent’s founders to restore a single steam locomotive and a few coaches in which to give train rides was pretty modest by today’s standards. Their image of a small operating museum has grown over the years into the experience we all now enjoy at our North Freedom location, where the era of vintage train travel remains an exciting adventure. Ticket and gift shop sales have never been enough to keep these trains rolling. It takes the charitable support of members and friends to cover the huge costs of being one of the most respected museums for the preservation of our railroad heritage.

Please join us by making your own contribution to one of the museum programs listed below. Every donation is acknowledged with a formal receipt affirming your financial support as fully tax-deductible.

Mid-Continent is a not-for-profit, educational entity, incorporated in the state of Wisconsin and accredited by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) organization.

How to Make a Donation

Donate Online

Donations can be made online using PayPal. You do not need a PayPal account to use this feature. PayPal accepts all major credit cards as well as allows you to use a PayPal account if desired.

If donating for a specific program or purpose, either utilize the buttons specifically for those projects further down this page, or use the “Other” option of the general PayPal form and write in instructions on the form for MCRM staff.

Additionally, in order to receive a mailed receipt and thank you letter from Mid-Continent affirming the tax-deductible status of your donation, be sure to check the box for “Share my mailing address with Mid-Continent Railway Historical Society, Inc.”

Donate By Mail

If you prefer to donate by check, please fill out the donation purpose on the check memo line or use the printable donation form and mail it along with your check to:

Mid-Continent Railway Historical Society
PO Box 358
North Freedom, WI 53951

Donate By Phone

Donations via credit or debit card can be accepted by phone by calling 608-522-4261 or toll-free 800-930-1385. Credit and debit card donations can be one-time or set up to be reoccurring monthly, quarterly, or annually.


Please feel free to call us if you have any questions about the best way to support the museum. Your charitable gift will be used entirely as you direct, or if left unrestricted, where we have the greatest need.

 

Recommended Projects

Many donors wish to support a specific locomotive, railcar or other favorite projects. Below are a few recommended ongoing projects in need of financial support. To donate to these recommended projects online, utilize the buttons below or write the project/program name inside the empty box on the printable donation form.

Here is a list of our current recommended projects:

Dardanelle & Russellville #9

A brief history of the D&R #9 begins back in 1884 when the Baldwin Locomotive Works constructed the locomotive as New Orleans & North Eastern. It received a new boiler in 1904. NO&NE sold the locomotive to a surplus dealer in 1917. The locomotive was purchased by the Dardanelle & Russellville in Arkansas and was renumbered to #9. The Mid-Continent Railway Museum purchased the locomotive in 1963 and served as one of Mid-Continent’s daily operation locomotives on and off until 1991 when it was removed from service because of boiler issues. It was stored as inoperable until the Fall of 2020.

Over the past 3 years; father and son team Jason and Fletcher Reiman, along with a crew of volunteers, have embarked on the D&R #9’s cosmetic restoration. The D&R #9 project has previously raised a total of $9,999 thanks to many kind donations, which was used to cosmetically restore the tender. That phase is effectively complete. This year, the crew of volunteers would like to begin the cosmetic restoration of the locomotive itself and have aptly named 2024 as the “Year of The Cab!”

For our second fundraiser, we are again setting our goal to $9,999. Through your generous donations, we can attain this goal. We appreciate any donation you can make towards the project. Every little bit helps! Without your generosity, the wheels of progress will grind to a stop. Fletcher’s “Crew” is dedicated to bringing the project to completion. We will work hard, and we are committed to spending your donations wisely and frugally. Thank you for your support! We cannot do this without you!

Fletcher and the crew pause for a photo as the crew begins the cosmetic restoration of the D&R #9, 2021.

Great Northern #2313 (a.k.a. Montana Western #31)

Mid-Continent is home to the oldest surviving, and largely unmodified, gas-electric rail car built by the Electro-Motive Corporation. Built in 1925 for the Great Northern Railway as #2313, the motor car was later sold to the Montana Western and renumbered to become their #31 – the paint scheme it still wears today. The motor car was added to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ list of Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmarks in 2003. It last operated in 1987 and has been out of service ever since awaiting repairs to its original Winton engine. During that time, it has been a stationary display piece inside Mid-Continent’s Coach Sheds.

Now the time for waiting for repairs is over! Mid-Continent has a plan to put this car back into operating condition so visitors can once again enjoy a ride aboard this historically significant car, but your help is needed. Mid-Continent’s earlier fundraiser for this project successfully got the project off the ground and has allowed work on engine repairs to begin. Additional donations will be necessary to complete repairs to the motor car’s radiator and control systems as well as to repaint it to its original Great Northern paint job.

Great Northern #2313 (lettered as Montana Western #31) seen offering rides at MCRM in the early 1970s.

Rail Relay Project Phase 2

Mid-Continent Railway Museum’s trains have traveled the rails at North Freedom for 60 years… rails which are themselves often well over 100 years old. Now your help is needed to guarantee Mid-Continent’s rail line remains safe to operate for another 100 years and beyond.

In spring 2023, Mid-Continent completed the MCRY Rail Relay Phase 1, which included replacing 2,500 track feet. That effort addressed only the most urgent areas of extremely worn and fatigued rail.

MCRY Rail Relay Phase 2 is the next crucial step in addressing worn and fatigued rail along Mid-Continent’s rail line. Phase 2 will be much larger in scope, replacing 11,431 track feet (2.16 miles) of rails, joint bars, tie plates, rail anchors, track bolts, and spikes! Check out page 10 of the newsletter for more details on the project.

At current market prices, this phase would normally require $1.5 million to complete, but thanks to an opportunity to buy excellent quality relay rail from a nearby Wisconsin railroad, for a limited time, Phase 2 can be completed for approximately $820,000. This is an incredible savings to Mid-Continent, but we must be ready to purchase the rail promptly when it becomes available.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

We are seeking to raise at least $35,000 from member and online contributions. With a project of this scope, Mid-Continent is seeking funding from multiple sources, but support from our membership is of vital importance. If we are unable to demonstrate support for this effort from within our own membership and supporters, it becomes difficult to convince outside grant organizations why they should give financial support to this project. Your gift today, no matter the size, can help Mid-Continent to unlock larger funding sources.

Profile view of worn rail removed in Spring 2023. MCRM photo.

EJ&S #2 Combination Car

East Jordan and Southern #2 is Mid-Continent’s oldest train car. It was originally built in Nov. 1864 as first-class coach and acquired by the museum in 1963. It has been at Mid-Continent for the past 60 years. In order to finalize this unique car’s restoration, funding is required.

#2 while in service. Date unknown. Location is alongside the EJ&S’s East Jordan depot. Date unknown; L.B. Herren photo; Ted Schnepf collection, from Paul Swanson.

Depot Siding Repairs & Repainting

Mid-Continent’s 1894 depot is the first thing the public sees when visiting our museum. The building’s wood siding has survived three floods in 15 years, but it has taken a toll. Rot is becoming an issue on siding along the building’s lower half and window frames. Plans call for a contractor to make the needed repairs and repaint the building. This work will keep the building looking good for years to come.

DSS&A DULUTH Sleeping Car Restoration

Please consider making a donation to the “DSS&A Sleeper DULUTH Fund” so Mid-Continent can restore the DULUTH sleeping car to its former glory. It is Mid-Continent’s goal to accurately restore the DULUTH to its original condition (1902 to 1915 time period).

people listening to tour guide
A tour group explores the in-progress restoration of the DULUTH.

Matching Funds Available!

An anonymous donor has pledged to match each donation to the DULUTH sleeping car, dollar-for-dollar, up to $10,000! Help us reach our goal of matching this challenge grant. Together, this will provide $20,000 in funds to further the DULUTH project.

Individual Donations ($2,650) & Matching Grant ($2,650)

The fundraising total shown is as of May 16, 2024. The fundraiser began on May 1, 2024.

Donors have the freedom to choose which areas of museum operations they wish to support. Here is a list of recommended general programs available to donate to at any time.

General Fund

General Fund

Sometimes the most powerful gift is the one that is made without restriction. The General Fund was established to allow museum management the discretion to use its unrestricted gifts where they are most needed. Your gifts to this fund will help us meet the most pressing need.

Mid-Continent Railway Museum lantern logo

C&NW #1385 Steam Locomotive

C&NW #1385 Steam Locomotive

Gifts to this fund will benefit the restoration of the former Chicago & North Western No. 1385 to full working order. When complete you will be able to enjoy a train ride powered by this 1907 built ten-wheeler, famous for its goodwill tours of the 1980s. You can follow the project’s progress on the Steam Status page.

Steam Fund

Steam Fund

Gifts to this fund benefit Mid-Continent’s steam engine restoration program without limiting the gift to a particular locomotive. This allows museum management the discretion to use the funds as needed on projects such as restoring to operation Chicago & North Western No. 1385 and Western Coal & Coke No. 1.

Wood Car Restoration

Wood Car Restoration

A tour through the Coach Shed is the best way to experience the stunning success achieved in restoring Mid-Continent’s wooden car collection. There are many more pieces on our property in need of this same type of treatment and gifts to this fund help us to revitalize the marvelous craftsmanship hidden beneath the age and deterioration of these once marvelous relics.

volunteers sanding caboose

Education

Education

Mid-Continent’s charitable status is based on its role in sharing information about railroad history during the Golden Age of Railroads. Gifts to this fund help to care for our archival collection, maintain and create exhibits and improve our ability to reveal the wonders of the past at the highest quality possible.

Display case

Mechanical Department

Mechanical

Mid-Continent Railway Museum is more than just a museum, we are an operating railway. The maintenance of operating cars and locomotives falls upon the Mechanical Department. Whether it is applying a new coat of paint, buying new wheels for the coaches, or repairing the air conditioner units of our First Class cars, our shop forces are always busy. A donation to the Mechanical Department helps us keep these cars and locomotives in service and earning revenue, thereby helping the museum twice with a single donation.

Volunteers pulling a truck under DL&W 595

Engineering Department

Engineering

Ownership of our own railroad line grants Mid-Continent great operational flexibility. However, ownership of the railway also involves significant costs including regular inspections and maintenance of rails, ties, roadbed, bridges, highway crossings, and signals. Gifts made to this fund will help us maintain and improve what is perhaps Mid-Continent’s most important asset.

Buildings & Grounds

Buildings & Grounds

The least glamorous aspect of our work is the maintenance of a significant infrastructure consisting of buildings, lighting, sewer and water systems. These are things that are vital for a safe and comfortable visit for museum guests and volunteers as well as the protection of our key collection items. Even a virtual Tour of the Grounds will impart a fair idea of how extensive this capital investment has become. Gifts made to this fund will help us maintain the things we often take for granted but are vital to operating a museum.


Amazon Charity List

Amazon Charity Lists work in the same way as a wedding registry. Mid-Continent has created a list of items the museum uses on a regular basis for restoration projects, maintenance, and museum administration. You then purchase the items through Amazon and have them shipped directly to Mid-Continent where they will be put to use. VIEW MID-CONTINENT’S CHARITY LIST.