Information on:

Mid-Continent Railway Museum

E8948 Diamond Hill Road

Mission Statement:
The Mid-Continent Railway Museum is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the railroad legacy for the educational benefit of the general public. Its primary focus shall be on railroading of the Upper Midwest during the Golden Age of Railroading, 1880-1916.
The Museum adheres to the following principles:
-To collect and preserve rolling stock, structures, and other artifacts that meet the Museum's focus;
-To restore the equipment based upon sound scholarship;
-To operate a demonstration steam passenger train in an historically accurate environment of a turn-of-the-century rural railroad;
-To interpret, through Museum display and educational programs, the history, equipment, skills, and the human facets of the rail industry;
-To maintain a library and archival collections in the interest of promoting historical studies of the industry;
-To hold the Museum's collection in the public trust, ensuring long-term care of historic objects entrusted to its collections.

Mid-Continent is a not-for-profit, membership society. Its members have been the driving force behind its establishment and growth since its inception. Founded in 1959 as the Railway Historical Society of Milwaukee, its sole purpose has been to perpetuate the heritage of steam railroads through the operation and display of authentic railroad equipment. The first attempt to fulfill this mission took place at Hillsboro, Wisconsin, in 1962. But the rules of the rail line owner required the fledgling group to pull its coaches with gas power and leave the steamers for display only.

In 1963 the society purchased 4.2 miles of track from the Chicago & North Western Railroad and moved its operations to North Freedom, Wisconsin. That year society members offered steam train rides under their new name, the Mid-Continent Railway Historical Society, Inc. The year 2000 marks our 37th season of operation at North Freedom. In 1998, more than 44,000 visitors enjoyed the sights and sounds of railroading as it was done in the early part of this century.

Longtime member Jim Neubauer has compiled a historical timeline of Mid-Continent's development, giving an in-depth presentation of the museum's development from inception to present.

Over the years, the society has added to its collection of rolling stock, laid new track, and constructed shops and display sheds in an effort to create a reputable railroad museum. The members have maintained a very narrow scope in their purpose statement to focus on those railroads that operated in the upper Midwest during what is popularly called the "Golden Age of Railroading." This has given the museum a unique look so that a visitor today feels like they have stepped back in time. It has also helped to keep the museum's limited resources committed to a manageable task versus trying to save everything from everywhere.

The membership roster averages nearly 700 people each year. Volunteer hours have steadily grown as society members continue to impact every aspect of museum work. A board of twelve directors governs museum operations. They in turn supervise a paid staff, who handle the day-to-day business of the museum. And funding is being sought through a federal program to underwrite the cost of adding a curator to the staff; the next major step in securing Mid-Continent's position as a true railroad museum.

Mid-Continent is operated for the benefit of the general public. This primarily means Wisconsin residents. But the guest register shows that it is visited each year by people from around the United States and Canada. This is aided by the museum's proximity to both Baraboo, where the Circus World Museum and the International Crane Foundation are located, and the Wisconsin Dells, a popular tourist destination.

During the 1998 season more than 3,000 students, teachers and adult chaperones rode the rails on the Mid-Continent Railway. At the other end of the age spectrum, the number of senior citizens visiting the museum also increased considerably. Mid-Continent will continue to promote ridership among both groups through discounted fares and special events.


Allison Semrau

Thursday, July 26, 2018
While the train itself is very cool, the speed of the ride is at a snails pace... and a good portion of the time is spent looking at and turning the engine around, not too exciting for most people or children for that matter. Definitely would not return.

Tom Redman

Saturday, July 21, 2018
If you like trains you have to go here. Lots of great train equipment to see and very helpful staff willing to share their knowledge with you. Book tickets in advance for a ride in the caboose, you'll love it.

Gabriel Pershall

Sunday, July 22, 2018
Nice nittle tour. The tour guides were informative when you could hear them. If they had some sort of speaker system it would have made it better.

brian jewell

Sunday, July 1, 2018
Awesome place. I loved the old craftsmanship of how the trains and cars were made. So many details all made by hand. New stuff is only made cheap and quick.

Caroline Nitz

Saturday, June 9, 2018
Honestly we were very excited to go to this. The drive out there was beautiful. The train was pretty cool considering the cars you ride in are over 100yrs old. But if asked to go again I would say absolutely not. The mosquitoes were so thick, you were getting eaten alive even while the train was moving. There were also biting flies and wasps. It was only 78 out but felt like 98 in the train. Theres no leg room so very uncomfortable. Also it being a scenic train, there was nothing to look at and see. Its straight trees and a couple farmers fields. $80 for the four of us to go was soooo not worth it. No good views, hot and stuffy and your fighting mosquitoes and flies the entire ride. The only decent part is the guy that told us the history about the trains he was great and knew so much information and history. But I would so much rather pay half the price to not have to go for that terrible ride and just listen to his knowledge. The Riverside and Great Northern Railway was much more enjoyable. It had zero mosquitoes, very friendly staff and better prices. This Mid-Continent Railway was an overall disappointment.

Mid-Continent Railway Museum is not affiliated with AmericanTowns Media