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
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, 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.”
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.
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 project, you can type the name of the project into the online donation form’s “write a note” box or write it inside the empty box on the printable donation form.
Recommended Special Projects:
Montana Western #31 Matching Fund Drive
Mid-Continent is home to the oldest surviving, and largely unmodified, gas electric rail car built by the Electro-Motive Corporation. Built in 1925 and added to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ list of National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmarks in 2022, the Montana Western #31 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 has secured a $10,000 matching grant for the project which means your donations will be matched dollar-for-dollar until the goal is reached. Donate now to make your donation go twice as far. Funds received will be used to make repairs to the original Winton engine and associated repairs needed to make the #31 operational once again.
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.
The 3.7 mile ex-Chicago & North Western Railway branch line that Mid-Continent Railway Museum calls home is in need of new rail. If one were to look closely at the rails along Mid-Continent’s line you’ll see date stamps on many pieces of rail dating them all the way back to the 1880s! After over a century of freight and museum trains pounding the railhead, they are worn out and in need of replacement.
Mid-Continent will be replacing sections of its rails in phases over the next several years. This will be a costly but very necessary infrastructure project. Phase One is slated to begin in fall 2022 at a cost of $184,810 and will replace the most badly worn sections just south of North Freedom yard and near La Rue.
To support this project, select “Engineering Dept.” in the online donation form or the printable donation form.
D&R #9 Steam Locomotive Cosmetic Restoration
The cosmetic restoration of Mid-Continent’s oldest steam locomotive – Dardanelle & Russellville #9 is currently underway with the help of a previously completed $10,000 fundraising campaign, but needs your support to get completed. The #9 pulled many Mid-Continent trains in the 1960s and 1970s, but time and outdoor storage has caught up the locomotive and it is in need of cleaning, sandblasting, priming, painting, and repair to some weather-worn components. When complete, the #9 will be a premier display piece.
Donors have the freedom to choose which areas of museum operations they wish to support. Here is a list of recommended programs available to donate to at any time.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Donate through Amazon.com
There are two great ways to donate to Mid-Continent Railway Museum through 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… smile.amazon.com.
For each purchase you make using 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 Amazon.com site do not count toward the program.