Boxcars arrive at North Freedom, July 19.
Jim Connor photo.

A crane unloads LS&I boxcar #2026 at North Freedom on July 19, 2007.
Jim Connor photo.

A crane unloads LS&I boxcar #2011 at North Freedom on July 19, 2007.
Jim Connor photo.

Two historic LS&I boxcars move on their own wheels for the first time in forty years.
Bill Buhrmaster photo.

100-Year Old Railroad Boxcars Saved by Museum.

Two old soldiers of rail transportation have moved to their new retirement home: Mid-Continent Railway Museum in North Freedom. The two boxcars arrived at the museum site aboard three flatbed trailers on July 19.

The museum’s volunteers had located the ancient old wooden boxcars in Upper Michigan a few years ago and targeted them for preservation at the museum. The cars once served on the Lake Superior & Ishpeming (LS&I) Railroad which still operates out of Marquette, Michigan hauling iron ore from mines to Great Lakes ships. The museum already has several passenger and freight cars and one steam locomotive from the LS&I.

The two cars had been privately owned and stored on an isolated piece of track behind the original LS&I depot in Ishpeming, MI for the past 40 years. The smaller and older car (#2011) was built for the Marquette & South Eastern, a predecessor to the LS&I, by the Pressed Steel Car Co. in 1901. This 34 foot long, 30 ton capacity box car is the oldest known LS&I freight car in existence.

The second car (#2026) was acquired second hand by the LS&I (prior to 1926) and the car was built for one of the Pennsylvania Lines around 1910, as a class XL box car. Additional research is planned to uncover the original car number and built date.

“These cars are truly a rare find and a great acquisition for Mid-Continent,” according to Bill Buhrmaster, the museum’s Restorations Manager. “With these acquisitions, Mid-Continent has the largest (six pieces) historic collection of preserved LS&I equipment. Once restored, Mid-Continent will have the capability of displaying either an LS&I passenger or freight train consist.”

Both cars are intact and in good condition. Restoration work will begin soon. Incredibly, the cars had still been resting on the home railroad's rail, although the tracks were not connected for years. Buhrmaster observes: “Where else in the country are museums collecting 100+ year old box cars that are complete?”

The “new” boxcars may be seen at the museum’s grounds in North Freedom which are open daily through Labor Day weekend and weekends until late October. The museum operates a historic train ride, making three trips a day. All ticket and gift shop proceeds help support the museum’s many programs.