Dec 21, 2023

Things may have seemed quiet over the summer for the Friends of the 261, but they have been quite far from that. Many things have been progressing in the shop of the 261.

Friends contracted by MTM for A18

Back in 2021, MTM (Minnesota Transportation Museum) contracted with Friends of the 261 to work on the Great Northern car A18. The A18’s significance in history is that it was built to be James J. Hill’s personal business car. The Great Northern took delivery of A-18 on July 31, 1900. The earliest known diagram for this car shows that it was purchased for James J. Hill. Both the interior arrangement and photos of the exterior show a lavishly decorated car. The car had open vestibules at both ends and exterior grooved sheathing. It was 65 feet long over the framing and rode on six-wheel trucks. The interior was finished in oak and mahogany, had an observation room, two state rooms, a dining room, kitchen, and a small parlor at the opposite end from the observation room. In 1923, the car received a steel underframe, car received steel sheathing and was renumbered as GN A-30 in 1924. In 1925, the car was renumbered back to A-18 as the third car to carry this number. By this time the interior of the car had been somewhat modified. A-18 was finally retired in 1959 and sold to the Yreka Western as its No.13.

Found and acquired by Mr. James J. Hill III, the car was donated to MTM and contracted with the Friends to bring new life into the A-18. Once the car arrived to Minneapolis, crews began the task of removing the steel siding from the car to open up the severely rotted wood siding. With the wood siding removed, crews then removed all original horse hair insulation and started working on structural repairs. Inside the car, crews are working on replicating the original ceiling panels. Lavishly painted in the original styles, these hand-painted pieces bring elegance to the A-18.

Plans are in works for the car to have its original tongue and groove siding replaced, windows will be repaired and reinstalled in the original locations. In the rear end of the car, all the rooms will be redone to the original specs, the parlor will be reinstalled as well as open up the original back platform.

Wiscosin Valley gets interior upgrade

Over the summer crews removed the carpeting from the top of the windows to the floor, replaced sub panels where necessary and installed many outlets throughout the car. New windows were installed, complete with new window frames and custom shades to match. On top of all this all the removed carpeting was replaced with mahogany paneling.

All this work was completed just intime for the annual North Pole Express, where the car will see over 1600 passengers over the 2 weekend the NPE operates.

Plans are to finish up the remaining details over the winter months, things to be included are new carpet and hardwood flooring under the booths.

More outlets, More lights!

A last-minute addition to the former CN&W bi-levels that the Friends us on the Annual NPE, was new exterior outlets for Christmas lights and lights up decorations. Replacement of the green Plexi-glass to clear glass also took place during the summer in preparation for the NPE.

More upgrades on some the Friends equipment were, sound deadening material was added to around the HEP generator in the 32a to help lower noise when operating on the platform at Union Depot during the NPE. During the summer crews also diagnosed and repaired many items on the 32A, on of these bigger task was replacing all the wire that goes from the front engine control panel to the rear engine control panel. Several hundred feet of rotted dried out wire were removed and replaced to make the engine ready for future excursions. 

Crews also repaired the vestibule of the Wenonah. The steel that the trapped was mounted to had rusted away so much that the hinge points pushed through the step walls. Crews removed the traps and steps and replace the side walls with new metal and reinstalled the steps and trap.

Crews also preformed various long overdue maintenance to our fleet of maintenance equipment, repair cylinders an crane, brakes on forklifts, general services as well.

2024 Annual Dues Notice

It’s dues time again for the Friends of the 261, but before I speak briefly about our activities and goals, I want to say thank you to all our members and friends for your generous support over the years. Thanks to your dues and donations, we’ve been able to keep 261 in operation and update our car fleet.

Thanks to your support, we are able to keep moving ahead. In 2024 we are planning more trips with 261, more car charters, and international tours. By renewing your membership, and making an additional donation, we will continue our progress.

Remember, your dues and donations are fully deductible under both federal and state income tax law, so if you act before the end of the year you can deduct the amount on your 2020 income tax return. You can renew and donate by sending the notice back by mail, or simply following the link below.

Thanks again for your continuing support. I hope to see you on a Friends of the 261 excursion or charter in 2024!

Thanks to your generous contributions, Friends of the 261 are able preserve railroading history. Become a member or donate today, as always donations are tax deductible!

Recent Posts

2023 Train Day

RRHMA participates in Midwest events Equipment makes appearances at Union Depot Train Days, Franklin Park Railroad DazeRailroading Heritage of Midwest America participated in two Midwest railroad events in June, part of fulfilling our mission to promote public...

RRHMA awarded $31,000 by the Emery Rail Heritage Trust

Railroading Heritage of Midwest America would like to announce the award of $31,000 by the Emery Rail Heritage Trust to go towards the return to service of the Sleeping Car/Lounge Caritas. We would like to thank the Emery Rail Heritage Trust for its continued support...

RRHMA to Expand operations to Silvis, IL

Railroading Heritage of Midwest America to expand operations to Silvis Illinois shop & rail complexThe rail complex will be developed as a multiuse commercial development, historic preservation, restoration and future transportation museum. SILVIS, Ill. (Jan 10,...

Friends of the 261 acquires private car Caritas

Friends of the 261 acquires private car CaritasCaritas has traveled thousands of miles on excursions organized by car owners Clark Johnson and Nona Hill (pictured at left) through their company High Iron Travel. (Steve Glischinski)MINNEAPOLIS – The Friends of the 261,...