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 Post subject: CNW 1385 Grant
PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2011 8:59 pm 

Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 10:22 am
Posts: 489

Mid-Continent Railway Historical Society, Inc.
P.O. Box 358, North Freedom, WI 53951


Starting up a steam locomotive requires a huge fire and a lot of patience while you wait for several hundred gallons of water to boil, but patience and a fiery determination are the exact qualities one will find at the Mid-Continent Railway Museum in North Freedom as they attempt to fire-up their steam program after an eleven year absence.

“The last time we offered steam train rides was for our Snow Train event in 2000,” admits the museum’s president Jeff Bloohm. “The high cost of making repairs that meet today’s federal standards limited us to an easier, cheaper diesel-powered operation due to a lack of funds.”

An unexpected change in the museum’s fortune occurred last week when they were presented with a $250,000 challenge grant to restore not just any steam locomotive, but the museum’s star in its locomotive fleet, the Chicago & North Western No. 1385.

“This is the first locomotive we used for giving train rides when we moved our operation to North Freedom in 1963,” says Bloohm. “It has traveled the Midwest on goodwill tours, been featured in movies and documentaries, pulled the Circus Train, and is listed on both the Wisconsin and the National Register of Historic Places. It has essentially been the image of Mid-Continent for nearly fifty years.”

The much needed financial boost for this monumental restoration project came from the Wagner Foundation of Lyons, Wis. Dick Wagner, the foundation’s president, explained their motive for providing the grant as simply being rooted in the fact that, “We have supported the museum over the past few years and have been impressed with their programs, their popularity with young families, and their determination to recover from the destruction of 2008’s flooding.”

Mid-Continent had been working to revive its steam program but their whole operation was shut down when the Baraboo River completely inundated the museum’s property. Bloohm acknowledges that “Every building and most of our collection suffered some form of water damage that year. And we have been in recovery mode ever since.”

Visitors to the museum located in a beautiful section of rural Sauk County will find it a little inconvenient to park, buy tickets and board the train as the construction continues. “But the trains are running,” Bloohm says, “per schedule and we hope people will still make the effort to ride the train and view our collection.”

Mid-Continent has always been a place where the past has come alive through its preservation of various pieces of railroad equipment. Now it is about to recapture a bit of its own precious history through the restoration of its premiere steam locomotive.

“We couldn’t think of any more important way to support the museum further than to help it get its steam program going again,” Wagner confides, whose foundation is known for its own preservation work with another mode of transportation, airplanes.

Bloohm agrees and is glad the foundation’s trustees have taken an interest in preserving our steam locomotive heritage. “Steam is the draw and without it the museum’s attendance has suffered.”

Another person who appreciates the impact this gift will have on both Mid-Continent’s and the area’s appeal to tourism is Tom Diehl, president of the Tommy Bartlett Shows and Exploratory World in the Wisconsin Dells.

“Putting the 1385 back in working order would revitalize Mid-Continent’s appeal as a tourist destination for our area.” Diehl is backing up his support of this project by serving as the honorary chair for the fund raising campaign to match the Wagner Foundation’s challenge grant. “It makes a statement about our shared commitment for preserving a key part of our nation’s heritage symbolized in this iconic artifact.”

Donations to match the challenge grant for the locomotive’s restoration can be made on-line through the museum’s website at or by mailing a check to the museum’s office at P.O. Box 358, North Freedom, WI 535951.

Steam will return to the Mid-Continent Railway Museum for a brief time August 6th through the 14th with the arrival of the Flagg Coal Company #75. This tank engine is small enough to move across country by truck and trailer. And North Freedom is one of its scheduled stops this year in support of the campaign to restore the Chicago & North Western No. 1385.

Donations to this campaign can also be made at the fifth annual Gandy Dancer Festival in Mazomanie, WI August 20th. This free event includes a variety of activities along with a list of high quality performers that will keep the family entertained all day long. Donation Stations will be placed at various spots on the festival grounds with all proceeds going to benefit the 1385’s restoration.

Mid-Continent is a Wisconsin not-for-profit organization founded in 1959 and all gifts made to the organization are fully tax-deductible. For more information you can visit the museum’s web site or call their toll free number at 1-800-930-1385.

 Post subject: Re: CNW 1385 Grant
PostPosted: Mon Jul 04, 2011 9:17 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:58 am
Posts: 728
Hopefully they'll restore Don's address so any e-mail inquiries aren't lost in cyberspace. There could be a lot of good publicity from this project.

Well done, Mid-Continent!

Steve Hunter
Cardinal, Ontario

 Post subject: Re: CNW 1385 Grant
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 9:45 pm 

Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2006 2:21 am
Posts: 543
Location: Yardley, PA (near Phila)
sbhunterca wrote:
There could be a lot of good publicity from this project.

Steve Hunter
Cardinal, Ontario

Or not... Why so little publicity in the last 2 years?

What's new?


 Post subject: Re: CNW 1385 Grant
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:59 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 12, 2004 1:41 pm
Posts: 828
Location: Bowling Green, KY
I wonder if the inclusion of Don's email and name is a mistake as he has not been the museum manager for some 3+ years...... just a thought given the comment about the address not being valid.


 Post subject: Re: CNW 1385 Grant
PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2013 2:09 am 

Joined: Mon Jul 23, 2012 4:08 am
Posts: 19
The inclusion of Don Meyer’s email is not in error. While he may no longer serving as general manager for Mid-Continent, he is part of the C&NW 1385 project as a consultant, mostly regarding fundraising. If the email address was not working it was a temporary glitch at that time.

One factor contributing to the lack of more regular updates is due to the work thus far largely being done by contractors off-site. The cab, tender, and boiler components are all in contractors’ shops spread across Wisconsin and Minnesota. As you may imagine, this makes getting status updates more difficult than the usual stroll down to the engine house. It has also not been aided by the fact that I still serve as the primary "news reporter" for Mid-Continent's publications despite me having moved 900 miles away from Mid-Continent shortly after the 1385 project began.

That said, I try to share news as I receive it and am hoping to increase frequency in the future. Project updates have primarily been distributed through our printed member magazine, the Mid-Continent Railway Gazette, and through our Facebook page ( More recently, I’ve been easing my way into website design duties too and an overhaul to the long-neglected Steam Status portion of our website is in the works.

In case you missed them, here are the major 1385 project updates on our Facebook page (does not require a Facebook account to view):

July 4, 2011 (Original Announcement)

August 16, 2011

August 23, 2011

December 30, 2011

January 8, 2012

July 16, 2012

November 15, 2012

March 30, 2013

June 3, 2013

Jeffrey Lentz
Publications Volunteer
Mid-Continent Railway Museum

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