DULUTH Sleeping Car Update and “BUY A BERTH” Fund Drive

DULUTH Restoration – November 2019 Update

Mid-Continent Railway Museum has been working on restoring the oldest and most complete wooden sleeping car in the country to its original beauty and operating condition. Thanks to many supporters and generous donations the car was acquired and moved to the Mid-Continent Railway Museum in September 2016.  Upon arrival, the car was placed on a pair of 6-wheel trucks and within 12 months Mid-Continent volunteers had installed couplers and draft gear. This summer the air brake system including the air brake cylinder, reservoir and all of the air piping was completed. Inside the car, the missing berth partitions and lower berth seatbacks have been replicated and installed.

The next step in the program is to replicate the missing upper and lower berths that will be installed between each of the berth partitions. New berths are required as the past owners removed 8 of the 10 berths from the car over 80 years ago. The upper berths are challenging to reproduce due to their curved shape and the fine marquetry patterns set into mahogany veneer. Fortunately, we have located a master woodworker and marquetry expert in Michigan that have the needed skills and abilities to accurately reproduce the missing berths from the DULUTH.  In order to replicate the missing berths, we must raise $32,000 to get the DULUTH one step closer to being a restored masterpiece.

Introducing the “BUY A BERTH” Fund Drive

To fully restore the sleeping section of the DULUTH, your help is needed to raise $32,000 for replicating the upper and lower berth seat ends. With the “BUY A BERTH” Fund Drive donors can donate towards replicating the eight missing upper or lower berths. With a $1,500 donation (for a lower berth) or a $2,500 donation (for an upper berth) we will be able to get a berth replicated and you’ll have your name associated with one of the berths in the car. Donors that make a donation to the “BUY A BERTH” Fund Drive in the full amount of a berth ($1,500 or $2,500) will have their name placed on a plaque mounted inside the car. All donations less than $1,500 will be pooled together to go towards the cost of replicating a berth.

How You Can Help

Please consider making a donation to the DSS&A sleeper DULUTH “BUY A BERTH” Fund Drive and help put the berths back into the DULUTH sleeping car.

You can donate online by clicking the Donate button. This will take you to our secure PayPal payment portal.




You can also donate by mail by sending a check to:

Mid-Continent Railway Historical Society
PO Box 358
North Freedom, WI 53951

Please be sure to write “DULUTH Sleeper— BUY A BERTH” in your check memo line, in the online donation form, or in the special projects box of our printable donation form.

All donations are tax-deductible. Any donations received in excess of the Buy A Berth Fund Drive goal amount will be used to assist with other areas of the DULUTH’s restoration.

DULUTH Update – May 21, 2019

During a four-day work session held May 17-20, 2019 a total of 14 volunteers were on hand for one or more of the days to assist with several active projects in the Restoration Department. including the DULUTH.  A crew of five including Paul S., BG, Richard P., Bob R. and Bill B. installed the balance of the air piping for the car. This was a significant amount of work as it included not only the trainline (1in dia.) but it also included piping for the two conductor valves, the retainer, and the signal line. Combined the air system includes some 250 feet of pipe with numerous fittings and over a dozen custom pipe bends. A total of 150 man-hours were spent on fabricating and installing the piping under the car. By 5 p.m. on Sunday the system was tested with shop air. The test quickly revealed that there was a leak inside the car where the conductor valve had been removed when the car was a cabin. Once the open end was capped off the system was pressurized and there were no leaks to be found. This was a very significant accomplishment and a big step forward.

I really appreciate all of the help that we had this past session. It was a lot of work but very rewarding.

Bill Buhrmaster
MCRM Restoration Department