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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
From the Tweetsie Mailing List:
Not Tweetsie related, but thought some of you might be interested. My
dad and I visited this museum in Wisconsin a couple years ago. They
have a nice collection of buildings and equipment and offer short
out-and-back excursions. Sadly, much of it is underwater right now.
Dear Mid-Continent Friends and Members,
As many of you know, major flooding in Sauk county has dealt a severe
blow to Mid-Continent Railway Museum. Early Monday morning, June 9th,
the Baraboo River, which runs adjacent to our property, rose out of
its banks after a weekend of very heavy rain. This was no typical
spring flood though. The waters rose all day Monday and much of the
day Tuesday. The river crested late Tuesday at over 28 feet as
measured upstream at Rock Springs, which is more than seven feet
higher that the highest stage on record and more than 20 feet above
There is major damage to our museum property. The depot building is
flooded several feet above the main floor and the passenger platform
has washed away in places. The engine house, car shop, freight house
and other small buildings all have several feet of water. The Coach
Shed has several inches of water. All diesel locomotives have flooded
traction motors. Nearly all the coaches have water above the journal
boxes. The GBW 49 and Soo 2645 steam locomotives on the display track
have water above the couplers. Copper Range 29 has been spared so far,
with water still below the axles. The office building has several
inches of water in the basement. There is no word yet on track or
bridge conditions.
Obviously, all train operations are suspended until further notice and
most likely for the season.
It is too early to tell the entire scope of the damage we have
received or how we will go about recovering. For now, we will leave
you with some sobering pictures from the museum. Click the links to
several photo galleries on the webcam page, including a time-lapse
movie from our webcams here:


Following is the official News Release that has been sent to media
outlets around the Midwest by General Manager, Don Meyer. Please feel
free to pass the word along to anybody you know who may be interested
and able to help in our recovery efforts.
Mid-Continent Railway Museum
P.O. Box 358
North Freedom, WI
Contact person: Don Meyer, General Manager
Office: 608-522-4261
[email protected]
We've Met Our Match
For the first time in its 46 years of operations at North Freedom, the
Mid-Continent Railway Museum has had to cancel its train rides.
"This is a point of pride for us," says Don Meyer the museum's general
manager. "We have always told our guests that the train runs, rain or
shine." Even last February's blizzard did not prevent the museum from
holding its celebrated Snow Train event. But in this year's flooding
Meyer admits the museum has finally met its match.
"The extent of the flood damage is so excessive," he reports, "that it
looks like it will be a severe challenge for us to even stage our
Autumn Color and Pumpkin Special events in October."
By the time the water crested Tuesday night every building except for
the office, the highest point of the property, was inundated with
water. The worst hit was the museum's 1894 Chicago & North Western depot.
"This is probably the most recognizable building on our property,"
Meyer says. "Every visitor walks through its doors to purchase their
tickets for the ride. It's where your journey always begins." Now this
historic icon has standing water in each of its rooms several inches deep.
Also hard hit is the museum's equipment. "We will literally be stuck
in the mud once the water recedes," he admits. "We will likely need to
truck our diesel engines to another site for clean-up and repair. The
work will simply be too big for us to do ourselves."
The damage from the mud and water will also affect the coaches people
ride in. "Nothing will move," Meyer promises, "until each car has its
wheels and bearings cleaned and lubricated." So the work will have to
take place outside right where the vintage equipment is currently
standing for fear of doing further damage.
What is totally unknown at this time is the extent of the damage done
to the museum's track. This includes the two bridges that are part of
its four-mile route. In the final analysis, the rebuild of the bridges
may confront the museum with its most costly repairs. It will depend
on what a physical inspection reveals once the water level has gone
down far enough for an informed assessment to be made.
All the main roads leading to the museum have been closed due to the
high water. Still there have been a few venturesome people who have
found a way to get there by locating the back roads that have not been
affected by the flooding.
Everyone who makes it has camera in hand. The site of steam
locomotives and railroad cars waist deep in the muddy current is just
too amazing not to record. Meyer's weekly web log message ruefully
refers to the museum's facility as Lake Mid-Continent.
Ironically something else that has been inundated is the museum's web
site. Their service provider has asked Mid-Continent's webmasters to
remove the link to its two web cams located on the property. Visits to
the site were just too numerous for the provider to handle. As an
alternative, a gallery of still images is being archived so people can
view the water's invasion of the once active rail yard. Follow the
links on our home page to view the pictures of the damage.
The museum is operated by the Mid-Continent Railway Historic Society,
a Wisconsin not-for-profit corporation founded in 1959. Its collection
of wooden cars is purported to be the largest in the country, many of
them one-of-a-kind pieces that have been saved from destruction by the
dedication of the society's members. Now that same task is confronting
them again.
"We'll survive," Meyer says. "It's that point of pride we have about
what has been accomplished here since we first moved our collection to
North Freedom in 1963." The commitment of the society's members can be
summed up in just four words, "The trains must run." And given time
they will again.

Premium Member
17 Posts
This stinks. That's a nice museum....I hope that they can pick up the pieces and dry everything out. Don't forget about the Circus museum as well...it is situated near the Baraboo river as well...and has a number of classic circus train cars...and irreplaceable circus wagons. Latest word on the Circus museum is that it's still in pretty good shape.


Premium Member
143 Posts
I got their email last evening, looked through the pix, and felt heartsick. When I lived back in the Chicago area, I was a member of the museum, and though I've only visited a couple of times in the past too many years, I was always impressed by the work that they have done and the amazing amount of material they've collected and restored. Here's hoping that there's insurance money and disaster relief funds available. Repairing the damage is going to take an incredible amount of time, dollars, and labor.

Premium Member
4,297 Posts
Traction motors can be repaired, journal boxes repacked, track repaired but other than a large mess, it sounds like this could have been far worse if the water rose higher, the buildings themselves could have been destroyed. Hopefully what was damaged could be restored, any news if any artifacts for historical documents were damaged?

Premium Member
2,746 Posts
I would fear damage of the buildings and wood car collection myself out of all the options.

My father was asking about the Circus museum when I talked to him on the phone, thanks for the info John.

Premium Member
17 Posts
Update on Circus World:
Thursday, June 12 --- 10:05am

Note from Circus World Museum:
After consulting with local Emergency Government Officials in Baraboo we have decided that it is in the best interest of the safety our guests and employees to close for the day. Circus World Museum still has flooding at multiple locations on our property and the National Weather Service has Baraboo still under a flood warning plus a 100% chance for heavy precipitation for today. With a portion of Water Street closed our largest parking lot is not accessible.(NBC15.com)

Currently, water has surrounded at least one of the historic circus railcars, and the water is still forecasted to rise some more.
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