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 allowing you to use a PayPal account if desired.

If donating for a specific program or purpose, be sure to mention that in the “Special instructions to the seller” box of the Paypal form.

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.”


DULUTH Sleeping “Matching Your Funds Drive”

Looking to donate to the DULUTH sleeping car “Matching Your Funds Drive?” If so, please use the light blue donation button labeled “Double My Gift Now” appearing lower on this page.

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.


New Tax Deduction Available

If you take standard deductions on your taxes, your donation may still be eligible for an additional “above-the-line” deduction of up to $300 on your 2020 taxes. In 2021 this deduction remains at $300 for single filers, but increases to $600 for joint filers.

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.


Donors have the freedom to choose which areas of museum operations they wish to support. Here is a list of recommended programs.

General Fund

Mid-Continent Railway Museum lantern logo

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.

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

volunteers sanding caboose

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.


Display case


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.

Mechanical Department

Volunteers pulling a truck under DL&W 595


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.

Engineering Department


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.

Special Projects

Most of the above programs are have multiple projects going on at any given time. If you prefer to have your donation go toward a specific locomotive, car, structure, or other projects, you can simply type the name of the project into the online donation form or write it inside the empty box on the printable donation form.

Recommended Special Projects:

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). To kick off the next phase of restoration tasks, a $75,000 fundraising effort is underway to allow major material acquisition and some labor costs.

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

For a Limited Time – Double Your Gift!

A select group of individuals has generously pledged to match donations dollar-for-dollar up to $15,000 to help us reach our goal of $30,000! Now we need your help to take full advantage of the matching offer and to have the necessary funding for restoration work through 2022.    

To offer more flexibility and options for donors to take advantage of this matching offer, payment can be deferred until June of 2022 provided a pledge is made by the end of 2021.

D&R #9 Steam Locomotive Cosmetic Restoration [FUNDRAISING COMPLETE]

Plans are underway for the cosmetic restoration of Mid-Continent’s oldest steam locomotive – Dardanelle & Russellville #9. The #9 pulled many Mid-Continent trains in the 1960s and 1970s, but time and outdoor storage has caught up with #9. The #9 is presently in storage and is in need of a refresh to protect it from further rust damage and to make once again a prime display piece at Mid-Continent. The fundraising goal for this project is $9,999.

UPDATE: Fundraising for this project is complete. Thank you for your support!

There are two great ways to donate to Mid-Continent Railway Museum through the online store Amazon.

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.


Through the AmazonSmile program, you can select to have each and every purchase you make from Amazon directly help Mid-Continent Railway Museum.

AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you know. Same products, same prices, same service, just a different web address…

For each purchase you make through AmazonSmile, Amazon will donate 0.5% of your checkout price to Mid-Continent Railway Museum. Be sure to continue to make future purchases through AmazonSmile to keep supporting Mid-Continent with every purchase. Purchases made through the regular site do not count toward the program.

Amazon Smile logo