Vintage Rail Car Tours – October 2-3, 2021
Explore the Interiors of Mid-Continent Railway Museum’s Finest Restorations
Mid-Continent Railway Museum has a nationally-renowned, award-winning wooden car restoration program. While all museum visitors can see the beautiful restorations from the Coach Shed viewing platforms alongside the cars, much of the fine craftsmanship can only be appreciated from within the railcars. For one weekend only, October 2-3, 2021, museum visitors will have an opportunity to do just that.
Visitors will be welcomed beyond normally locked doors and inside the exquisitely restored railcars. Knowledgeable restoration volunteers will be on hand inside the cars to give life to the cars’ history and share details of the restoration process. Tours are self-guided, allowing visitors to view inside the cars at any time throughout the day and proceed through them at your own pace.
Vintage Rail Car Tour Cost
Adult = $10; Children (ages 3-15) = $7
Visitors choosing to not take the Vintage Rail Car Tours can still enjoy the free, self-guided tour through the museum that is available every day Mid-Continent is open; however, the free self-guided tours do not allow access to car interiors.
Vintage Rail Car Tour tickets do not include the 55-minute train ride, available separately.
Vintage Rail Car Tours are available between 10 AM and 4 PM. Visitors can start the tour at any time within that period and proceed through at their own pace.
Tours are being modified in 2021 to allow social distancing while on the tour. The wearing of face masks while visiting Mid-Continent is required. See our COVID-19 Information page for additional information.
Tour tickets will be available for purchase at the depot ticket office or can be purchased online starting on June 1st.
Tour areas are not wheelchair accessible and require steps to reach the car interiors.
The cars included in the 2021 Vintage Rail Car Tours event has not yet been determined. Below are the cars that were included in the most recently offered Vintage Rail Car Tour event.
Duluth South Shore & Atlantic #213
Coach #213 was part of an order for twenty cars built in 1888 for the Duluth South Shore & Atlantic Railway. These cars were of a standard open platform design that car builders had offered to the railroads for some twenty years. The cars served the DSS&A for many years as first-class accommodations.
By the mid-1930’s the cars were no longer needed as revenue cars and the #213 was remodeled into a dining and kitchen car for work train crews. It was used in this capacity until 1969 when switching accident rendered the car unfit for further service. It was then acquired by Mid-Continent and restored to its 1910 appearance. More information about DSS&A #213.
Milwaukee Lake Shore & Western #63
Coach #63 was built in 1888 by the Barney and Smith Co. for First Class service on the Milwaukee Lake Shore & Western Railway. The interior finish is varnished cherry wood and was designed by Edward Colonna. Colonna’s relationship with the Barney & Smith Car Co. ended soon after the design of these cars and he went on to greater fame in Canada. An unusual design feature of these cars is the Art Nouveau motif of the carvings above the doors and on the corner of the washroom. This is a departure from the Neo-Classical motifs of other railroad interiors of the day. In 2000, the car underwent a 2-year, $350,000 restoration to return it to like-new condition. More information about MLS&W #63.
Wisconsin Central “Oak Park”
Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad (Soo Line) business car “Oak Park” was built by the Barney & Smith Car Co. of Dayton, Ohio in 1884. The car was constructed for the Wisconsin Central as a 31-seat cafe-parlor car and named “Oak Park.” The Soo Line subsequently converted the “Oak Park” to a business car for traveling railroad officials. In this configuration, the smoking rooms became observation rooms and the central parlor room was remodeled to contain a single large stateroom, kitchen, and a dining room. The car was later converted to work train duty, serving as a bunk and dining car for work crews. The car has been restored to its 1920s business car configuration. More information about “Oak Park.”
Wisconsin Fish Commission #2, or Badger #2, commonly referred to as the “Fish Car,” represents Mid-Continent Railway Museum’s most ambitious car restoration to date. Built in 1913 for the purpose of restocking Wisconsin’s rivers, streams and lakes with fish from hatcheries, it is the only remaining original fish car in the nation and Mid-Continent Railway Museum’s very first acquisition.
In 2008 the Badger #2 underwent a $950,000 restoration to return it to its 1913 configuration and appearance. The car’s transformation became the subject of an episode of the television show Ultimate Restorations. (Watch the episode on Amazon Prime). More information about Badger #2.
Copper Range Railroad #60
Copper Range #60 was built as a second-class coach in 1903 by the American Car & Foundry Co. (AC&F), at the Jeffersonville, Indiana works. The #60 was a typical open-platform car of the period. Starting in 1911 the Copper Range passenger equipment was gradually repainted in the standard “St. Paul” (Milwaukee Road) scheme of orange and maroon. The last vestige of Copper Range passenger service ended in 1946. Coach #60 went into storage in the Houghton, MI roundhouse. In 1965 coach #60 got a new lease on tourist railroads but rail line abandonments eventually closed down the tourist operation. The car was purchased by Mid-Continent in 1982 and restored in stages between 1984 and 2003 to return it to its mid-1940s appearance. More information about CRRR #60.
Copper Range Railroad #25
This wooden car was built by American Car & Foundry in 1903, as coach #59 (one of six identical cars numbered 55-60, including sister car Copper Range #60 (above) for the Copper Range Railroad.
Copper Range rebuilt the #59 into a combination baggage/coach in 1913 and renumbered it #25. In 1963, Mid- Continent purchased the car from Copper Range and it was moved to the museum’s new site at North Freedom. The car was quickly restored to the standard Milwaukee Road orange and maroon paint scheme adopted by the Copper Range in 1911, and used in the museum’s regular passenger train until the early 1970s.
In 2013, #25 was masterfully restored to its 1913 appearance both on the interior and exterior following a five-year restoration process. The exterior restoration included rebuilding both end platforms, reproducing the original buffers, replacing the steps, repairing the trucks and painting the car. A significant effort was required with the interior restoration as the original seats had been removed from the car some 70 years ago. Great efforts and expense were taken to reproduce the original patented American Car & Foundry seats for the car. In addition, all new oak veneer ceiling and headlining panels, complete with gold leaf striping, were reproduced to replicate what was originally in the car. More information about CRRR #25.
Mid-Continent’s Car Shop Building
After exploring and learning about the finished products of Mid-Continent’s restoration efforts, make your way to the Car Shop to see where the restoration work is carried out by Mid-Continent’s skilled volunteers. There you’ll see railcars in different stages of their restorations, including active projects like the East Jordan & Southern #2, Mid-Continent’s oldest railcar, and the Duluth South Shore & Atlantic sleeping car DULUTH.