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
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. Download a registration form HERE.
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 their 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 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.