16th Annual Symposium to Be Held April 20, 2023

Lake States’ annual 2024 Symposium will be held on Saturday April 20th (please note this is one week earlier than has been the tradition). Check-in starts at 10:30am. The event will be at the same event location as in previous years, the Clarion Hotel and Convention Center, 626 West Pine Street, Baraboo with the first presentation again starting at 11:00am.

An exciting line-up of presenters is scheduled. First will be a return engagement of Mr. Pete Shrake, archivist at the Circus World Parkinson Library in Baraboo. This year, Pete’s presentation is titled “The Car Shops: A Historical Sketch of the Ringling Railroad Facilities at Baraboo.”

The two afternoon seminars will start with Mr. Jerry Pyfer of Loves Park, Illinois. Jerry worked for the Milwaukee Road as a trainman from September 1971 until moving to the Illinois Central Gulf in November 1978 in the same capacity until 1982. Jerry serves as the president of the Northwest Illinois Chapter of the NRHS. His presentation is titled “Working the Hennepin Patrol” on the Milwaukee Road in the 1970s. Ride along between Mendota and Hennepin, Illinois over this several trackage rights filled route in middle Illinois on the road switcher.

Finishing out the Symposium will be Mr. Andrew Nelson, of Belvidere, Illinois. Andrew has been watching trains since the age of two and photographing them since 1984. He has had articles on Midwestern railroading published in Railfan & Railroad, Trains, Pacific RailNews, CTC Board, and Classic Trains. He is also on the board of directors for the Green Bay & Western Historical Society. He retired in June 2022 after a 33-year career in education and as a high school English teacher and building-level administrator. Andrew’s presentation is titled “Railroad Audio Artistry: An Exercise in Theater of the Mind,” and explores some of the many outstanding audio recordings capturing steam railroading released on LP records in the late 1950s through the mid-1960s. The works featured in this program are by Brad Miller, Howard Fogg, O. Winston Link, John Prophet III, and other sound artists. Ever wonder what a Pennsylvania T1 sounded like climbing the East Slope at Horseshoe Curve?

There will be the usual buffet lunch, Lake States business update, and archive collections update by LSRHA President Paul Swanson, and a return of the LSRHA Company Store for attendees shopping pleasure. Cost for LSRHA members is $40, non-members $50. To download the registration form, click HERE. We hope to see you in April!

January 27, 2024: Two New Members Join Lake States Board

At their January meeting, the Board of Trustees elected Samuel T. Weber and Steven Glischinski to the board to fill two vacant seats. Sam is an LSRHA member and CP engineer/conductor out of Marquette, Iowa. His grandfather’s stint as an agent and operator on the CB&Q along the Mississippi fuels his passion for railroad history. Sam has volunteered at Baraboo and is a frequent customer on our our on-line archive. Steve is a well-known rail photographer, author, and historian based in the Twin Cities. He took his first photos of railroads at the age of 13, was first published in 1982, and his by-line has appeared dozens of times. He’s also written eight books on railroading. “The collection Lake States has amassed is indeed impressive, and your efforts to make it accessible should be applauded,” Steve says. “I hope that as a board member I can assist in that effort, and in the effort to expand and fund the collection.” We welcome both aboard! The two seats were previously held by Ralph Justen who resigned from the board last fall, and Ken Breher who passed away in November. We thank Ralph for his years of service and support to Lakes States and extend our best wishes to JoAnn Breher and her family. JoAnn is also a member of Lake States.

September 6, 2023: Generous Donation From Member Pays Off Building Mortgage

Back in 2014, when ground was broken on our new building at 330 Lynn Street in Baraboo, an initial line of credit of over $400,000 was established. As construction continued, LSRHA’s president Dick Goddard worked on donors to help cover initial costs. BRHS also contributed as a partner in the building. In the end, total construction cost was about $400,000. Our mortgage was re-financed at a lower interest rate in 2019 for a five-year term. At the beginning of 2021, the balance remaining was $57,041. Two years later it was paid down to $32,500 when we launched a fund raising campaign to retire the mortgage in its entirety.

Larry Bunce had reached out over the summer to inquire about retiring our mortgage. Bookkeeper Paul Knutson crunched some numbers and came up with the final tally that would be needed. LSRHA President Paul Swanson picked the date of September 6 and invited past president Bob Ristow, Don and Bonnie Evenson, Ray Sommerfeldt, and Knutson to join Larry in the delivery of the check to the Baraboo State Bank in downtown Baraboo.

We first met at the archives at 330 Lynn Street for a photo-op and then car caravanned downtown to the bank. After the teller processed the deposit and submitted the payoff paperwork to their loan department, the entourage headed to Pizza Ranch for a celebratory lunch.

Larry has been a frequent visitor to the archives to check on any new surplus books or other materials we might have for sale. This final push to pay off the mortgage was successful of course due to Larry Bunce, but also because of dozens of others who answered our call. Again, thank you to everyone for giving Lake States a solid home for our mission to preserve and maintain railroad history for future generations!

September 2023: Lake States Reaches 100,000 Images Uploaded

Lake States has uploaded the 100,000th photographic image to our on-line railroad photo archive.

“We have developed a strategy of digitizing smaller collections in their entirety and working on larger ones over time,” Swanson explains. Images are all scanned at high resolution using the best quality traditional methods. “Our philosophy is we want to do the best job out of the gate, even though it might take more time,” he says. Lake States has provided images to dozens of publications and other research projects. Thousands of high resolution images have been supplied to historians and researchers.

“This is a very important achievement for us,” Lake States’ president Paul Swanson observes. “100,000 may seem an arbitrary number, but it represents a major step in our journey, and opens our collections to anyone with internet access.” Construction of the on-line archive at www.lakestatesarchive.org began in 2018, and since then has been built up entirely by volunteers utilizing LSRHA’s holdings. Revenue from sales of photo downloads and prints directly supports the group’s archive operations.

“We even have a few folks building or restoring steam locomotives utilizing 100-year old drawings contained within our archive,” according to Swanson. LSRHA continues to receive new collections every year that keep its volunteers busy. Swanson says LSRHA will continue to digitize well into the future. “At some point we will need to expand our capacity,” he admits.

It is estimated there are currently over 1 million photos, negatives, and slides in the collection at Baraboo. Additionally, over 120,000 railroad technical drawings and countless additional paper documents are housed at LSRHA. These include personnel records, equipment rosters, correspondence, company and operational reports, annual reports, train registers, dispatcher sheets, public and employee timetables, right-of-way and station maps, condensed profiles, operating and maintenance manuals, and many more. Over 100,000 of these non-photo documents are searchable on Lake States’ main website “Document Database” page at www.lsrha.org.

2023 “A Day For The Archives” A Success!

The 2023 Edition of “A Day For The Archives” has wrapped. Thank you to all who attended. Over $3,400 was raised to support the Day’s sponsors BRHS, C&NWHS, Lake States, SLIHS, GNRHS, MRHA, and SLH&TS. Presenters included Bob Hanmer, Sara Phalen from West Chicago City Museum, Jeff Eggert and Craig Pfannkuche from C&NWHS, Paul Swanson, Jon Habegger from the Pullman Library at IRM, Walter Keevil from Shore Line Interurban Historical Society, David Wilson for BRHS, and Jerry Pyfer of NWI-NRHS. “A Tribute to Jim Boyd” by Mike Schafer and Craig Willett; “Chicago Union Station” by Mel Patrick and Larry Sallee; and “Enchantment’s Final Chapter” by John Ryan were also screened for the assembled group of about sixty participants. Box lunches were provided by Kirby’s Korner Bakery in Manhattan (Illinois) and Harner’s Bakery of North Aurora. The Buffet dinner was prepared by Pal Joey’s in Batavia. We also thank Metra for their hospitality during our Friday on the railroad. Many years of railroading seniority were represented by our hosts. Metra No. 2 Conductor Rich Orseno (44 years) helmed our trip to Manhattan over the old Wabash. Our afternoon turn to Antioch was coordinated by Rich Oppenheim, Director Chicago Union Station District (50 years) and Adam Farence, Senior Trainmaster/RFE (32 years), with engineer Wayne Limpkins (50 years), conductor Ryan Dempsey (22 years) and assistant conductor Julia Elliott. Also thanks to Norm Carlson and Jim Derwinski for assisting with Metra planning. Al Kamm III and Dick Kasper donated funds to purchase of beverages. Plans are already being made for next year’s “A Day For The Archives.”

Annual Symposium to Be Held April 29, 2023

Plan now to attend the 15th Annual LSRHA 2023 Symposium & Luncheon being held on Saturday, April 29, 2023 with check-in starting at 10:30am. We will be at the same event location as in the past, the Clarion Hotel and Convention Center, in Baraboo. The first presentation will start at 11:00am. We will have an open house at the LSRHA Archives Building at 330 Lynn Street in Baraboo before and after the Symposium, starting at 9:00am. Stop by for a visit!

We have three separate presenters scheduled for this year beginning with Mike and Mark Nelson from Oregon, Wisconsin who will once again share fantastic photos and a story to go with each. Our two afternoon seminars will each feature two gentlemen who were employed by the C&NW Railway.

Tim Deneen is a C&NW veteran who worked in train service for many years and also served as union representative until his retirement. Today, Tim chairs the local C&NW retirees group which meets once a year in Waunakee.

John Corcoran was raised in the southwest corner of Cook County, Illinois on a farm where he watched many Wabash trains go by in the late 50’s. After college he made a career change and in early 1978 hired on the C&NW in the engineering department to work on the rail test car. John worked at many locations in many capacities on the C&NW over the years, including as Assistant Roadmaster on the Wisconsin Division, Suburban Division project engineer, and California Avenue general car foreman in charge of shop and business cars. Several more moves were made during the UP era until John retired in 2009.

There will be the usual luncheon, association business update, and archive collections update with a short presentation of the latest scans we have completed. We will also have the company store open selling surplus books, drawings, and other items. Cost is $40 for LSRHA members, and $50 for non-members for the entire day. All proceeds go directly to supporting archives operations. Download the registration form here. We look forward to seeing you on April 29th!

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.