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.

DULUTH Progress Update May 2019

Fred B. has spent the past few months reproducing the six missing berth partitions and lower berth seat backs for the DSS&A DULUTH Sleeping car. The berth partitions are an integral component for the berths as they support the upper berths while also separating each berth in the car. The yellow pine pieces are all custom made per the original partitions in the car and they are recessed into the wall framing, the carlines, and the floor.

In late April Fred began installing the beth partitions in the car as seen in the photos below.

By the end of April, all six berth partitions were secured in place. The seat backs were also placed temporarily. The final installation of the seat backs will occur after additional work is completed inside the car including the reconstruction of the new berth seat ends.

sleeping car partitions and seatbacks

Berth partitions and seatbacks installed in the DSS&A DULUTH sleeping car. April 29, 2019.

Next up… on the weekend of May 18-19 volunteers will once again be working on the air brake piping under the DULUTH. Plans call for completing the trainline, signal line and retainer piping during this work session.

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.

DULUTH Arrives at Mid-Continent

By William Buhrmaster, Mid-Continent Railway Museum

On September 7th the DULUTH sleeping car arrived at Mid-Continent Railway Museum.
The sleeping car was unloaded on September 8th and is now setting on a pair of 6-wheel trucks for the first time in 82 years.

Duluth South Shore & Atlantic sleeping car “DULUTH” is one of a series of five 10-section sleeping cars built by The Barney & Smith Car Company of Dayton, Ohio in 1902. The car is of all wood construction, with varnished mahogany interior, fine marquetry throughout, stained glass windows and green plush upholstery. In addition to the sleeping section the car features a stateroom, a smoking room as well as men and women lavatories. The car was used on the DSS&A’s North Country Mail (between Duluth, MN and Sault Ste. Marie) and remained in active service until 1934. The car left the DSS&A in December 1934 when it was sold to a Michigan resident and hauled to the shores of Lake Superior where it has been used as a summer cottage for the past 81+ years. In December 2015 the owners, Bob and Beth Krasche, generously donated the DULUTH to Mid-Continent Railway Museum. Since then museum volunteers have been finalizing plans to load, move and acquire appropriate trucks for the car.

The team helping unload at North Freedom.

The team helping unload at North Freedom.

See also: DSS&A Sleeping Car DULUTH Fund Drive Begins