Mid-Continent News

Arriving Soon at North Freedom: CR locomotive #29? (3/15/04)

It's a Copper Range homecoming of sorts. Well maybe in reverse. Mid-Continent has been the home for two former Copper Range Railroad wooden passenger coaches for many years. Copper Range combine #25 arrived at North Freedom in 1963, the museum's first year at the site, and hauled passengers for years. Copper Range coach #60 has just come off a complete award-winning restoration finished by volunteers in 2003. Now the two coaches may soon be reunited with a locomotive that pulled them over Upper Michigan's Copper Range system sixty years ago.

Mid-Continent has a fantastic opportunity to add a steam locomotive to its collection by acquiring Copper Range Railroad locomotive #29. The American Locomotive Company, built the 2-8-0 in February 1907, for the Copper Range Railroad (located in Michigan's Upper Peninsula). The locomotive was used in freight and passenger service until it was retired in 1953. The locomotive remained stored in the Copper Range roundhouse at Houghton, Michigan until 1967 when it was sold for use on the Keweenaw Central Railroad, a tourist operation based out of Calumet, Michigan. The abandonment of the Copper Range Railroad in 1972 forced the Keweenaw Central to cease operations and move their equipment out of Calumet. Locomotive #29 was relocated to Hancock, Michigan where it has been stored for the past thirty years.

The acquisition of this locomotive will be a very appropriate addition to Mid-Continent's collection. The locomotive is from the era (1880-1916) and region (upper Midwest) on which Mid-Continent's collection is based. The locomotive is for the most part complete, however it has deteriorated significantly as it has been stored outdoors for the past thirty years. A cosmetic restoration of the locomotive would enable Mid-Continent to display an entire Copper Range passenger train, utilizing the #29 and the Museum's two restored Copper Range passenger cars (combine #25 and coach #60). Such a display would provide a tremendous opportunity to tell the story of Copper Country railroading, the famous "school trains," and the resurgence of Copper Range passenger service during World War II.

The Mid-Continent Board has just approved the acquisition of the locomotive pending a successful fund drive and finalizing a contract with the present owner of the locomotive. Fund raising has begun and must be completed by April 30, 2004 to cover the costs associated with the loading, transportation via semi-truck, and off-loading of the locomotive. It is anticipated that the locomotive would arrive at North Freedom by June 2004.

We need your help to make this happen! Please consider making a donation to help offset moving costs. All funds will be used directly for the movement of Copper Range #29 to North Freedom. Donations may be made online or mailed to the office using an online form. Please be sure to indicate on your check that it is designated for the "Copper Range Locomotive #29 Acquisition Fund."

CR #29, Houghton, MI, 9-28-58.
CR #29 in service on Keweenaw Central.
CR #29 in service on Keweenaw Central.
CR #29 at Hancock, MI, June 1997.