Wisconsin Central #306

Baggage Car, Barney & Smith Manufacturing Co., 1886

#306 at North Freedom, c.1989. Bill Buhrmaster photo

#306 at North Freedom, c.1989. Bill Buhrmaster photo

SOO #W951 at Madison, WI, enroute to MCRM. April 1965.  Ron Jones photo, MCRM collection.

SOO #W951 at Madison, WI, enroute to MCRM. April 1965. Ron Jones photo, MCRM collection.

#306 as it appeared in work service as #W951, at Madison, WI en route to North Freedom, Spring 1965. Ray Buhrmaster photo

#306 as it appeared in work service as #W951, at Madison, WI en route to North Freedom, Spring 1965. Ray Buhrmaster photo

Baggage car #306 is an all-wood car originally constructed in 1886 by the Barney & Smith Car Co. of Dayton, Ohio as baggage car #25 for the Chicago, Wisconsin & Minnesota. Two years later it went to the Wisconsin Central and was renumbered #306. In 1909, the car became #1605 when the Soo Line gained control of the Wisconsin Central. The car was originally built with open platforms, that were removed at a later date. By 1940, the car was in bunkcar work service and renumbered again to W-951. Mid-Continent purchased #306 in 1965 and moved it to North Freedom. Window and door openings added by Soo Line when the car was converted to work service, were removed by museum volunteers. New baggage doors were constructed and the exterior repainted to restore its 1900 appearance. The interior has been outfitted with historical displays.

The Wisconsin Central Railway (WC) was an important Wisconsin railroad extending main routes from Chicago to Minneapolis, Ashland, and Upper Michigan. In 1909 the Wisconsin Central became the property of the Soo Line Railroad. This provided the Soo Line with a Chicago gateway. The present day corporation known as Wisconsin Central Ltd., formed from lines sold by the Soo Line, operates many of the lines of the original Wisconsin Central Railway routes.

The Barney and Smith Car Co. had its beginnings in Dayton, Ohio in 1849. The company grew to be a major supplier of freight and passenger cars in the later half of the 19th century. The company produced many exquisite passenger cars in this time frame and records indicate that the prices were commensurate with the quality of the cars. The consolidations of many of the independent car builders and Barney & Smith’s inability to successfully convert to profitable steel car construction forced the closing of the works in 1922.