Special Issue: Chicago & North Western No. 1385: Facing Up to a New Challenge

A Special Issue of the Mid-Continent Railway Gazette
Volume 44, Number 2, September 2011


Front cover of C&NW 1385: Facing Up to a New Challenge special issue Gazette

Front cover of the Chicago & North Western No. 1385: Facing Up to a New Challenge special issue Mid-Continent Railway Gazette.

There was a time when every promotional piece we created about the Mid-Continent Railway Museum prominently featured a close-up of our most popular steam locomotive, the Chicago & North Western No. 1385. All of that ended, however, when we stopped running steam. The diesel engines, which currently do the heavy lifting, have dominated our publicity pieces for more than a decade in order to avoid falsely representing the realties of the museum experience.

No. 1385 once again graced the cover of our members’ magazine when we revived the publication of our special edition Gazettes in 2011. After a four year hiatus we had good news to share and needed the expanded number of pages and the new extensive use of color printing to do justice to the story we had to tell.

Brass band playing by CNW 1385

Wherever the destination, C&NW No. 1385 caused a stir when it arrived. In the case of Reedsburg, Wisconsin’s sesquicentennial celebration in May 1998, the arrival of Mid-Continent’s star locomotive was literally trumpeted by a five piece brass band. No. 1385’s travels helped make it an easily recognizable symbol of Mid-Continent.

In June of that year Mid-Continent received a $250,000 challenge grant from the Wagner Foundation in Lyons, WI. The purpose was to restore C&NW No. 1385 to full operating condition as the logical step for restoring our financial well-being after successfully completing our flood recovery efforts. Steam power sells tickets and No. 1385 is the star of our fleet.

Instead of saving the news in order to make the December issue the special edition, as we had done in the past, we anointed our September issue as the special edition believing this to be the best way to quickly launch a campaign for meeting the Wagner Foundation’s challenge.

The topic is a retrospective on the life of No. 1385 during its years of ownership by our historical society. The magazine’s entire content consists of reprinted Gazette articles, beginning with the 1961 account on how the locomotive was purchased from the North Western by establishing the Enginemen’s Operating Club through to the 1998 update on the Help Steam Live campaign that was then intended to fully finance the locomotive’s needed repairs.

Pages from special issue Gazette

This special issue Gazette revisits No. 1385 from its arrival into the hands of an aspiring group of railroad preservationists through the time of its great successes as a traveling exhibition, introducing steam railroading to a new generation all across the Midwest.

Historic images and previously unpublished color photographs help to illustrate No. 1385’s storied service on behalf of our museum. It was the first locomotive used when our organization moved to North Freedom in 1963. It has toured the Midwest under a lease agreement with the North Western to help promote their train operations. It headed up the Great Circus Train on three successive occasions. And is the only piece in Mid-Continent’s collection to be listed on both the National and State Registers of Historic Places.

Copies of the Chicago & North Western No. 1385 spec6al edition Gazette can be purchased in our gift shop or online by calling 800-930-1385. All purchases support the preservation work of the Mid-Continent Railway Historical Society, which for this project means seeing No. 1385 fired up and ready to take the lead once again.

CNW 1385 crossing Yahara River bridge

C&NW No. 1385 glides across the Yahara River during a 1990 excursion.

Don’t miss out on any further issues by becoming a museum member! A subscription to the Mid-Continent Railway Gazette is one of numerous benefits of membership to the Mid-Continent Railway Historical Society.

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