DULUTH Fundraising Status

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A $75,000 fundraising effort is presently underway to allow major material acquisition and some labor cost for the DULUTH to allow its restoration to move forward. This post will be updated regularly to show progress toward reaching that goal.

To help Mid-Continent restore the DULUTH to its former glory, please consider making a donation to the DSS&A Sleeper DULUTH Fund. Donating is tax-deductible and easy to do. You can make your donation via mail or donate online using the Donate button.




Be sure to write in “DSS&A Sleeper DULUTH Fund” on the printable donation form or check memo line if sending a donation by mail. Credit/debit card donations can also be accepted via phone at 608-522-4261 or 800-930-1385 by speaking to our staff during administrative office hours Monday-Friday.

Fundraising total shown is as of January 22, 2020.

What’s Next for DULUTH?

What’s Next for the DULUTH?

Given the scope of the project and the resources needed to restore the DULUTH, the restoration effort will be a multi-year project that will be executed in phases. Now that the DULUTH is back on 6-wheel trucks and has draft gear, the next step will be to reinstall the brake system. Plans also call for moving the DULUTH into one of the museum’s buildings after the completion of Coach Shed #2 (in 2018) to prevent further deterioration and to assist with restoring the car. 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 three years.

Request For Help

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. Make your donation via mail or donate online using the Donate button.



Be sure to write in “DSS&A Sleeper DULUTH Fund” on the printed form or check memo line if sending a donation by mail. Credit/debit card donations can also be accepted by phone at 608-522-4261 or 800-930-1385 during museum office hours. All donations are tax-deductible.

DSS&A sleeping car Duluth interior, May 2017

DSS&A sleeping car Duluth interior, May 2017.

DSS&A Duluth Sleeping Car floor plan in 1924

DSS&A DULUTH sleeping car floor plan in 1924.

DSS&A Duluth Sleeping Car floor plan as of 2017

DSS&A DULUTH sleeping car floor plan as of 2017 after modifications for use as a summer cabin.

Construction Begins on Parts Storage Building

Artistic rendition of storage building

Artistic approximation of Mid-Continent Railway Museum’s new storage building.

Construction is underway on a new parts storage building at Mid-Continent Railway Museum. The new building, located along the western edge of the museum grounds, will help Mid-Continent to provide safe and secure storage for its inventory of parts used for historic railcar restorations and the operation of demonstration passenger trains.

Mid-Continent Railway Museum was hard-hit by flooding along the Baraboo River in 2008 and again in 2018. Increases in frequency and severity of flooding in recent years have made it a priority for the museum to minimize losses from any future floods by relocating items to higher and more secure storage areas.

A major step in this mission was accomplished in September 2019 with the opening of the Laurence Dorcy Building, a 10,500 square foot railcar display building. That building provides indoor display space for nine railcars and a locomotive as well as additional outdoor track space for another six cars, all located above the flood zone.

Aside from railcars and locomotives, Mid-Continent Railway Museum houses a collection of hard-to-find parts for the historic trains. Some parts were salvaged from railcars long-ago destroyed and are stored for use in the restoration of similar railcars. Other stored parts were removed during the restoration process and are kept for use as historical reference and templates for reproductions by Mid-Continent or other museums. To keep this collection of parts safe and secure, a dedicated storage building was sorely needed.

After seeing the success of the Laurence Dorcy Building, in late 2019 small group of donors looked at the museum’s next area of need and banded together to donate the entire cost of a new parts storage building. With this funding secured, things proceeded quickly. Contractors were hired and permits obtained in the early months of 2020. By early May, contractors began clearing and leveling the building site, clearing the way for construction to begin on July 2nd. The new structure is expected to be completed by later this summer.

The building will be 48 feet by 60 feet in size. A 20-foot ceiling clearance will provide plenty of overhead space for the shelving units that will line the walls and building center to allow maximum utilization of the new storage space. The building will also provide indoor parking spaces for the railroad’s maintenance vehicles. A wide gravel driveway will provide plenty of space for large vehicle access for loading and unload of materials.

Despite the ongoing closure from the COVID-19 pandemic, Mid-Continent Railway Museum continues to move forward. The museum is making strides to ensure the safety of the artifacts entrusted to it are provided a safe home. These behind-the-scenes improvements will ultimately lead to an improved museum experience for future visitors. Thanks to the generosity of the project donors, this new storage building is being constructed without a single dollar used from the museum’s operating fund, assuring that the project has no negative impact on the museum’s financial position during the pandemic while simultaneously providing jobs to local construction contractors.

MCRM Completes LED Lighting Upgrades

Mid-Continent Railway Museum is happy to announce a project to upgrade much of the museum property to high-efficiency LED lighting is now complete. This project was fully funded by donated funds given specifically for this purpose and as a result.

Upgrading to LED lighting has been discussed for some time, but large upfront upgrade costs had always presented a significant roadblock. However, upon the completion of the new Laurence Dorcy Building (a.k.a. Coach Shed #2) in September 2019 which featured LED fixtures exclusively, the bright illumination of the new building made it immediately obvious just how much the museum’s other buildings could be improved by LED lighting. This served as a springboard to launch LED lighting upgrades as a priority and helped catch the attention of a major donor offering to cover the upgrade costs.

The installation of the new fixtures began in June 2020. Service Electric of Reedsburg was selected as the contractor and was hired to install LED lighting in the museum’s Machine Shop, Engine House, Car Shop, and Coach Shed #1, representing a total of 30,000 square feet, plus several outdoor security lights. This in addition to smaller LED upgrade projects already completed in the depot basement, office building basement, and the new lighting along the passenger loading platform means that the vast majority of the museum property is now making use using high-efficiency LED lighting.

The energy cost savings from these upgrades are expected to be sizable when the museum resumes full operation from the COVID-19 pandemic. Improved light levels and energy cost savings are not the only benefits though. The upgrades will also reduce fire hazard by replacing the various mercury vapor, high-pressure sodium, and metal halide lights. Those technologies use bulbs that heat gasses to extremely high temperatures that pose a risk to any flammable materials below (like wooden train cars) in the event of bulb failure. That risk is mostly eliminated by LEDs that operate at much cooler temperatures.

With the upgrade project now complete, once the museum reopens to the public, visitors will get to enjoy the exhibits within Coach Shed #1 in a new light. Be sure to monitor the Mid-Continent website for the most up-to-date information about the pandemic closure.

MCRM Remains Closed to Public, Volunteer Sessions Set to Resume

Museum and Train Rides Remain Closed

Mid-Continent Railway Museum remains closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Museum’s Board of Directors is meeting regularly to review the latest pandemic data and coordinate changes to Mid-Continent’s practices and procedures that are needed to allow museum operations to safely resume. At this point, no reopening date is set; however, it known that Mid-Continent will remain closed at least through the month of August.

Volunteer Work Sessions to Resume June 6th

Starting Saturday June 6th, Mid-Continent members will be allowed to return to museum property to volunteer in the shops and facilities. For now, only Mid-Continent members will be allowed to volunteer. Non-members looking to volunteer will either need to wait for restrictions to be lifted or must join as a member before attending a work session.

Members will be required to follow guidelines laid out by the department superintendent, foreman, or project manager and must sign up in advance for work sessions to make sure sessions do not exceed 10 participants as well as to make sure they receive important notices about safety. More information is available on the Members Webpage.

Instructions for how to access the members’ webpage can be found on the front of each Steamer! newsletter and the back cover of each Mid-Continent Railway Gazette magazine.

Supporting Mid-Continent During this Crisis

Train ride ticket sales represent the largest portion of Mid-Continent Railway Museum’s annual income. The extension of the closure will cause a significant financial strain on the museum. Please consider supporting Mid-Continent in one of the following ways:

Mid-Continent is an independently operated 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational corporation and is not funded by the state or any other government entity. All donations are tax-deductible.

Thank you for your understanding and support during this time. We look forward to welcoming you back aboard in the future!

Originally posted: June 1, 2020
Last updated: June 29, 2020

DULUTH Update: Spring 2020

by William Buhrmaster, MCRM Restoration Dept. Manager

Although we’re not currently able to work on the DULUTH as planned due to the Coronavirus shutdown there still is some progress and news to report on.

Work inside the DULUTH took place during work sessions in February and March. Stu M. lead a crew of volunteers removing the deteriorated headlining panels in the sleeping section of the car. The panels have all been removed and the roof boards and carlines have now been exposed. From inside the car the lower roof boards and carlines look to be in very good condition with the exception of a few carlines and boards on the east side of the car.

I recently received an email from Bob Berghorst reporting that he has the mahogany veneer applied to the seat ends and he has received the first of the newly cast brass claw feet.  Bob is getting eight claw feet cast for the four seat ends that he is making. There are eight claw feet in the car and four claw feet were acquired from the Sault Ste. Marie last year when we acquired two of the seat ends from the SSM.

One of four original claw feet from the Sault Ste. Marie car, before and after cleaning and polishing for use in the DULUTH.

With a tip from Pete B., I recently purchased a Barney & Smith corner sink off of eBay. The sink came at a very reasonable price and the buyer generously donated the shipping cost from California. The sink is close to what we need in the smoking room with the exception that it does have a provision for a drinking water tank. We can use the sink in the DULUTH unless a better or more appropriate sink surfaces down the road. Photos of the sink are attached.

Barney & Smith sink purchased on eBay for use in the DULUTH’s smoking room.

I have also completed the restoration of the nine coach lamp roof vents that were donated to MCRM last summer thanks to Bob K.’s sister and brother in-law’s efforts in North Dakota last summer. With seven lamps in the car and two vents per lamp we are still in search of five more vents.

before view of roof vent with rust and peeling paint and after view of vent painted black

Before and after view of a coach lamp roof vent. The vent was salvaged from a car in North Dakota and restored for use on the DULUTH.

That’s the latest.

Coronavirus Update: MCRM Closed Until Further Notice

Closure Update

UPDATE: The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s strike-down of the Governor Ever’s Safer-at-Home order on May 14th has not changed the closed status of Mid-Continent Railway Museum. Safety is always our first concern when it comes to our visitors and volunteers. Despite the absence of a state order, Mid-Continent is remaining closed until we are confident we can welcome visitors back safely.


On May 5th, Mid-Continent’s Board of Directors voted unanimously the keep the Museum closed to the public until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This action was necessary to protect our employees, members, and visitors from contracting the virus while at the Museum.

The Board will re-evaluate on a month-by-month basis when it will be safe to open the museum and coach train rides again to the public.

During the closed period, all buildings and display areas will be inaccessible to the public. There will be no train rides or dining services. Any passengers with reservations on upcoming trains will be contacted and offered full refunds.

Due to higher exposure risk while eating and the very limited ability to social distance within our dining cars, all onboard dining trains are canceled for the remainder of 2020.

Supporting Mid-Continent During this Crisis

Train ride ticket sales represent the largest portion of Mid-Continent Railway Museum’s annual income. The extension of the closure will cause a significant financial strain on the museum. Please consider supporting Mid-Continent in one of the following ways:

Mid-Continent is an independently operated 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational corporation and is not funded by the state or any other government entity. All donations are tax-deductible.

Thank you for your understanding and support during this time. We look forward to welcoming you back aboard in the future!