On August 30, 2018 Mid-Continent Railway Museum was hit by near-record flooding. Most equipment was able to be moved out of harms way, but an estimated $250,000 damage has still been dealt buildings, immobile machinery, and track. The museum’s insurance coverage will offset much of this cost, but between deductibles and items not covered such as track washout repair, out-of-pocket costs to Mid-Continent is expected to reach $30,000 or more. Donations are being sought to help Mid-Continent offset as much of this cost as possible and hopefully avoid needing to borrow additional funds for flood repairs (Mid-Continent still carries a large loan from flood repairs resulting from the June 2008 flood).

CLICK HERE to make a donation to our Flood Repair Fund via PayPal (no PayPal account required – accepts all major credit/debit cards).

Or send a check using the Donate by Mail instructions below. Please write “Flood Recovery Fund” on the check memo line and/or in the provided space of the the printable donation form.

Fundraising thermometer last updated 11/23/2018.

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 by Mail

If you prefer to donate by check, please fill out the printable donation form for the desired purpose(s) 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.

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.”

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 Programs

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

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 No. 1385 Steam Locomotive

C&NW 1385 running gear being set on track.

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

Cleaning WC&C #1’s frame.

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

Car Shop volunteers prepare a caboose for repainting.

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 installing display cases

Volunteers install display cases in the depot waiting room.

Mid-Continent’s charitable status is based on its role in sharing information about the 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.


Volunteers pulling a truck under DL&W 595

Rolling temporary shop trucks under DL&W No. 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.


Ballast spreading machine

New ballast being spread on Mid-Continent’s track.

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

Mid-Continent Railway Museum aerial photo August 2011

Aerial view of Mid-Continent Railway Museum.

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 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 prefer to have your donation go toward a specific locomotive, car, structure, or other project, 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:

  • Diesel #1256 Wheel Repair – Mid-Continent Railway Museum’s diesel locomotive #1256, the museum’s daily use locomotive, is in urgent need of wheel work. MCRY #1256 has been the workhorse of Mid-Continent’s locomotive fleet, pulling about 95% of the museum’s trains. The sharp curves and well-worn rail of Mid-Continent’s line has taken it’s toll on the locomotive’s wheels and after February 2018 they must be sent out to a repair shop to be either re-profiled (if possible) or replaced. This is a big job and comes with a hefty price tag. Your help will get MCRY #1256 back in service and pulling passengers once again. In the meantime, MCRY #7 (the only viable backup capable of pulling full-length trains) will fill in.
  • 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. Based on the current condition of the DULUTH, no irreversible modifications, and records that document the car’s original appearance it is Mid-Continent’s goal to accurately restore the DULUTH to its original condition (1902 to 1915 time period). A detailed scope of work, tasks, and the restoration schedule are presently in the process of being developed.To kick off the next phase of restoration tasks, a $75,000 fundraising effort is underway to allow major material acquisition and some labor cost during the next several years.

    DSS&A Duluth 2016

    DSS&A Duluth after being unloaded arrival at Mid-Continent. Sept. 8, 2016.