October 1, 2022: Frost & Granger Drawings Scanned

LAKE STATES recently received a request from the Sauk County Historical Society seeking any information on Frost & Granger-designed depots for assistance in the interior restoration of their 1902 C&NW Division Offices and Passenger Station building at Baraboo. The Glorch family donated the building to SCHS in 2020. It was recently added to the state and national Registers of Historic Places. Sauk County Historical Society is raising funds for its restoration.

Lake States has a large collection of C&NW structure drawings in our holdings. Within these are many identified as drawn by Charles S. Frost as a sole practice or by Frost & Granger, the architectural firm. Many are original ink on linen although some are believed to have been re-traced by C&NW in-house engineering staff. A full search was completed this summer by volunteers and 207 drawings were identified. They have been scanned with our new wide format printer and uploaded along with additional drawings in a new on-line gallery that may be viewed here.

Charles Sumner Frost (1856-1931) and Alfred Hoyt Granger (1867-1939) were responsible for the design of dozens of railroad passenger stations, small and large, mostly for the C&NW (Green Bay, Madison, Baraboo, and Milwaukee are notable examples in the state of Wisconsin). They also were involved with other building types such as freight houses, shop complexes, and modifications to existing stations. Their work was not confined to railroad company structures, but the fact that both were married to daughters of C&NW’s then-president Marvin Hughitt adds intrigue to their securement of commissions. Hughitt, incidentally, served as president from 1889 to 1910, roughly the same time period of F&G’s C&NW output. More information about Sauk County Historical Society’s Baraboo depot may be seen here.


Harry Clay Evans Jr. (1943-2022)

We were saddened to receive word that Harry Evans passed away Friday, July 8. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family. Lake States has been honored to serve as the new home for Harry’s lifework of wonderful railroad images where his passion and spirit for trains will live on. The few hours I spent with Harry and his daughter and son during their visits to Baraboo will be cherished. Harry was a gentle soul who cared deeply for his family. Railroading seemed to be a part of his family as well. He enjoyed sharing his interest with his son David whom he took on rail trips to seek out steam. We are fortunate he shared his railroading experiences with us as well. Harry you will be missed but not forgotten. We will miss your warmth, your generosity, your smile, your compassion for others, and your passion for railroading. —Paul Swanson


May 2022: Annual Symposium Wrap-up and 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award

The 14th annual LSRHA Banquet & Symposium was held on Saturday April 30th in Baraboo, Wisconsin. The morning began with Chris Burger and his presentation entitled “1385 Memories,” covering MCRM’s C&NW 1385 locomotive and the C&NW’s promotional steam engine program. Chris recently chronicled his long and storied career in railroad management in Classic Trains magazine. Chris started with the NYC in the 1960s, moving on to the C&NW for many years, Central Vermont, and lastly two regional roads in Indiana. After our annual banquet, Tom Dorner presented the 2022 LSRHA Lifetime Achievement Award to outgoing president Robert Ristow, who served as president for the last five years. Bob thanked all in attendance and gave “on-the fly” remarks regarding the importance of our organization and his suggestions for the future. Newly-elected president Paul Swanson then gave a short business/organizational and archival update, including a showing of some recently scanned historical photos. Harry Evans and his family were special guests for the day and were introduced to those assembled. Harry spoke briefly of his appreciation for Lake States caring for his collection of photographs. Author/historian Jim Murrie joined us once again for this year’s banquet and made both afternoon talk/photo presentations, “Fort Knox Gold Trains,” followed by “Pullmans for Patients.” As usual, both were very interesting, historical, and well researched. The “company store” was open once again, manned by Paul Knutson, and the inventory was depleted by the end on the day. All profit went to support our archives activities. The LSRHA archives were open for visitors as usual after the banquet. Videos of 2022’s presenters may be viewed on our youtube page. Next year’s annual Banquet & Symposium has been confirmed for Saturday, April 29, 2023.


March 2022: Annual Symposium Banquet and Seminars, Saturday, April 30, 2022

LSRHA is pleased to announce that our 2022 Symposium will be held on Saturday, April 30, 2022. The event will take place at the same venue we have used in the past: The Clarion Hotel & Convention Center at 630 West Pine Street in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Check-in begins at 10:30am with the first seminar scheduled to begin at 11:00am. There will be a break at noon for a buffet luncheon followed by an annual report on the archives. Two more seminars in the afternoon will conclude activities. The Lake States archives facility in Baraboo will feature an open house in the morning from 9:30am until 10:30am, and later in the afternoon after the last presentation.

Scheduled presenters for 2022 include Chris Burger, former Wisconsin Division Manager on the C&NW, and author of a series of articles about his decades-long railroad career recently published in Classic Trains magazine. He will be presenting a “1385 Memories” show that will include Mid-Continent as well as the C&NW steam program from the 1980s.

Jim Murrie (originally scheduled along with Naomi Petersen for April 2020) will present two programs solo this time: “Fort Knox Gold Trains” which chronicles the Fort Knox Gold Trains and how gold bullion was moved to Ft. Knox in 1937, 1940, and 1941 after it was opened; and “Pullman for Patients” which tells the story about three special C&NW cars used in the 1930s-1950s for moving people with disabilities. The C&NW ordered two sleepers with an extra three side doors to handle stretcher patients from Chicago to the Mayo Clinic. One still exists in Green Bay and is being restored.

A ticket will be required to attend, and reservations are required. The ticket cost will include both the presentations and the luncheon. Coffee and soft drinks will also be provided. There will also be tables with archives “Company Store” surplus books and other items for sale. Tickets for the day-long event are $35 per person. Download the reservation form HERE and mail to LSRHA, 330 Lynn Street, Baraboo, WI 53913.


December 2021: LSRHA Announces Agreement with Fairbanks Morse Defense, Beloit, WI

Lake States Railway Historical Association is pleased to announce an agreement with Fairbanks Morse Defense, the current iteration of the Beloit-based Fairbanks, Morse & Co. that was well known in the rail industry for their coaling facilities, track motor cars (sold under the name of Sheffield, which FM had merged in the early 1900s), and diesel locomotives. LSRHA is now able to make available to the public through our on-line photo archive, company photos of coal docks, water stations, motor cars, locomotives, and more. Many of these photos were already at Baraboo from a previous donation, but we have also been receiving new material from FM’s Beloit plant. We are grateful for FM’s foresight to preserve and pass on the storied history of FM and its contribution to the rail industry. A large collection of coal dock and related facilities photos are already on-line. Sheffield motor cars and diesel locomotives will be added soon.


November 2021: Lake States Receives Award

The Heritage Rail Alliance, a fraternal advocacy organization whose mission is to promote “the common interests of entities engaged in the business of tourist, scenic, historic or excursion railroading, railway and trolley museums” was formed with the merger of the Association of Railway Museums (ARM) and the Tourist Railway Association, Inc. (TRAIN) in 2013. At their 2021 Fall online conference, Heritage Rail Alliance presented a Significant Achievement award to Lake States Railway Historical Association.

The commendation reads: “Across North America, rail preservationists are expanding their archival holdings and making them available to the public. An outstanding example is the Lake States Historical Society in Baraboo, Wisconsin. A spin-off of the Mid-Continent Railway Museum, it has assembled a major collection of over 100,000 photos and other archival materials with an emphasis on the upper Midwest. In 2015 they constructed a new purpose-built archive building. In 2021 they upgraded their website, are digitizing photos as fast as they can, and are presenting those online.” LSRHA received a plaque in honor of the award.

“On behalf of all the volunteers, staff, and members of Lake States, we are grateful for the national support and appreciation for our efforts and share your passion to save, preserve, and share railroading history for the community, general public, and future generations,” stated LSRHA vice-president Paul Swanson.


October 2021: Lifetime Achievement Awards Presented at Annual Banquet and Seminar

LSRHA president Bob Ristow speaks at the 2021 LSRHA Banquet/Seminar held at Clarion Hotel in Baraboo, Wisconsin.

The 2021 annual banquet and program was held on October 17th at the Glacier Rock Conference Center in West Baraboo. The 2020 event had been canceled, and the 2021 event was postponed due to Covid-19. Forty-eight people attended for an interesting program of railroad history, networking, and camaraderie. The C&NW-themed program included Phil Weibler’s “Let’s Go to Clinton,” a look at the C&NW mainline from Chicago to Clinton, Iowa; Paul Wolter from the Sauk County Historical Society speaking about acquiring and preserving the C&NW depot in Baraboo; longtime C&NW employee Rod Ewert discussing his telegrapher and dispatcher experiences; and David Mattoon reporting on the preservation and of the C&NW depot in Lake Forest, Illinois.

LSRHA President Robert Ristow presented last year’s 2020 LSRHA Lifetime Achievement Award to Ray Buhrmaster (again, Covid-19 delayed), and this year’s 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award went to Ken Breher. Both Ray and Ken are founding members of Lake States and their contributions to, and work in support of Lake States, are invaluable. Ken was in attendance and was very surprised by his recognition. He thanked the association for the award and those assembled for their continued support of Lake States.

The “company store” was manned by Paul Knutson where surplus books, drawings, pamphlets, timetables, etc. from our collections were made available for sale. Over $400 in funds were raised from the sales to directly support our archives activities.

Videos of the seminar presentations are posted on our youtube site. The 2022 Annual Banquet and Seminar is scheduled for Saturday, April 30, 2022.


August 2021: Annual Banquet and Seminar, Sunday, October 17, 2021

After being forced to cancel our 2020 annual banquet due to Covid-19, we have scheduled a 2021 LSRHA Annual Banquet & Seminar to be held on Sunday, October 17th starting at 11:00 am.

We will again be at the Clarion Hotel & Convention Center in West Baraboo, and we’re fortunate enough that most our presenters scheduled for 2020 are available for 2021 and a few new ones have been added. The LSRHA archives on Lynn Street will open at 9:30 am for members to visit, and then we’ll start banquet check-ins at the Clarion at 10:30 am, with our first presenter starting at 11:00 am.

A ticket will be required to attend, and reservations are required. The ticket cost will include both the presentations and the lunch meal. Coffee and soft drinks will also be provided during the presentations. There will also be tables with archives “Company Store” surplus books and other items for sale.

Presenters  will include “Let’s Go to Clinton” by Mr. Phil Weibler. He will be sharing his 1970s-80s action photography action on the C&NW mainline from Chicago to Clinton, Iowa. Phil has been a great supporter of LSRHA and had a long career in railroading. He just happened to have a camera in his grip when going to work. Phil started in 1956 with the N&W, then with the Rock Island, and finished out railroading with a stint as locomotive engineer with the C&NW, retiring in 1999. We will also hear about the C&NW depot restoration at Baraboo being undertaken by the Sauk County Historical Society, just up the street from Lake States’ archives, and stories from a C&NW telegrapher/dispatcher who worked nearly forty years from steam to the diesel era.

The day will close out with David Mattoon’s program entitled “The 1900 Frost & Granger C&NW Station in Lake Forest, Illinois–How its Preservation Shines a Light on a Forgotten Era–the Use of Natural Lighting and the Transition from Gas to Electric Lighting.”  Completed in 2019, the Lake Forest, IL, station on Metra’s Union Pacific North line service has undergone a nearly $3 million exterior restoration and interior renovation. David has been active at Mid-Continent Railway Museum for many years and has a longtime background in computer science with applications to real world railroading.


April 2021: New Archives Shelving Boosts Capacity

During the spring of 2021, Lake States upgraded and expanded our shelving in the archives warehouse. Three rows of metal shelving were replaced with new heavier-duty steel shelving, increasing our capacity by 50%. In the process, we were able to re-sort existing collections from the old shelves and transfer and consolidate into new bankers boxes as needed. We estimate this further increased efficiency by upwards of 70%. In the end, we gained nearly two rows of new shelving that was put to use for two incoming collections. The old metal shelving components (nicknamed the “oversize erector set”) was repurposed as shelving placed on top of existing flat files to provide a new home for the many cardboard tubes used to house more drawings and also used to replaced smaller shelving that was overwhelmed by archival boxes housing Official Guides. Materials were purchased with over $2,000 in donated funds and we finished $200 under budget. Thank you to all who helped out!


September 2020: Bruce Meyer Negatives Benefit from Recent Grant Award

We are pleased to report that we have been awarded a $483 matching mini-grant from the Wisconsin Historical Society and Wisconsin Council for Local History to cover costs of transferring the Bruce Meyer negative collection to archival storage boxes. This allowed the collection to be integrated into the warehouse storage area to clear the intake area it previously (and temporarily) occupied. It will also improve the collection’s accessibility and portability for on-going digitization. LSRHA was one of nineteen affiliated local historical societies that received a total of $10,077 provided through the Wisconsin Historical Foundation and the Wisconsin Council for Local History. WHS says that “this year’s affiliate mini-grant program focused on projects and activities that strengthen a local organization’s ability to preserve historical collections and manage those collections and other resources. The projects supported in part by the mini-grant program are an important part of the work done by local organizations to help collect and preserve our state’s history at the community level.” We thank WHS’s Outreach Program for their support on this important project. LSRHA is an affiliate member of the WHS. Needed supplies were ordered and the project completed in November.


January 5, 2020: SRHA Picks Up More File Cabinets

Volunteer Don Evenson and president Bob Ristow picked up a load of legal size file cabinets and four map cases for storing rolled drawings at the old Baraboo City Hall. The cabinets were acquired through the Wisconsin Auction Site for a grand total of $59 and had to be transported only six blocks.


April 19, 2019: Lake States Receives $2,000 Grant

Lake States receives a $2,000 grant from the Tom E. Dailey Foundation for phase three of our IT upgrade. This will finish the upgrade with the addition of a non-interruptible power supply and an external back up hard drive that will automatically do backups every day.


March 16, 2015: Archives and Library Facility – Making Progress

LSRHA’s new archives and library facility construction progress photo taken February 17th at 330 Lynn Street. The site is adjacent to Baraboo’s former C&NW yard complex and one block east of the former Frost & Granger station complex and Division headquarters built in 1902. The Wisconsin & Southern Railroad currently operates the line, now owned by WisDOT, which once served as the C&NW’s main rail connector between Chicago and the Twin Cities.


October 25, 2014: Groundbreaking

The Lake States Railway Historical Association is proud to announce that a ground breaking ceremony took place on Saturday, October 25, 2014 at its property located at 330 Lynn Street in Baraboo, Wisconsin. The Board of Trustees turned the first spade of dirt to signify the opening of its project to construct a purpose-built, energy efficient building to house its growing collections. This new facility, located at the corner of Lynn Street and Roundhouse Court, borders the former site of the Chicago and North Western Railroad’s Baraboo Yards. Purpose-built and energy efficient, this 5,000 square foot facility will provide improved research and archiving facilities, library, and office space, and an expanded archival stacks area. It more than doubles the space of the current leased facility at 319 Water Street in Baraboo. We at Lake States eagerly look forward to the completion of this major step this coming spring.