Wisconsin is home to some of the most unique railroading equipment you can find. Who knew?! From Trains Magazine’s Tourist Trains Guidebook, here are the must-visit tourist railroads, museums, and displays across the Badger State!
Wisconsin Tourist Railroads and Museums
Lumberjack Steam Train – 5068 US Highway 8, Laona
Longing for the days of steam railroading up north? The Lumberjack Steam Train is just for you! Powered by a 2-6-2 logging locomotive, the train departs the 1880s Soo Line depot near downtown Laona and heads through the northwoods and across the Rat River before arriving at the Camp Five Museum. Camp Five sits on the site of the former Connor Timber Company’s 1914 farm camp and is home to various artifacts from the yesteryears of Wisconsin logging.
National Railroad Museum – 2285 South Broadway, Green Bay
As the only congressionally designated railroad museum in the United States, the history of the National Railroad Museum’s collection stretches on an international scale. Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4017, General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s World War II command train from England, a Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 electric, and the GM Aerotrain are major highlights. An exhibit on Pullman Porters and a train ride around the campus add to the immersive experience when visiting the museum.
Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad – N6639 Dilly Lake Road, Trego
The Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad has been breaking the mold when it comes to excursion and dinner train operations. The railroad offers family pizza trains, dinner trains, wine and cheese trains, and a moving Bed & Breakfast train – the only one of its kind in the country. The Wine and Cheese train uses the Namekagon View Sky Parlour, a hi-level, dome-lounge built for the Santa Fe’s El Capitan and later used on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight. To top it all off, the railroad is currently restoring the 1935-built Mark Twain Zephyr of the former Burlington Route to operating condition.
East Troy Electric Railroad – 2002 Church Street, East Troy
Interurban railroading was once vital to Midwest cities, towns, and everywhere in between. A mixture of historic trolleys and streetcars traverses the 14-mile round trip between East Troy and Mukwonago. Picnic and dinner trains are also offered to Phantom Lake. Be sure to check out the nearby shops to see the vast collection that once served the areas surrounding Chicago, Milwaukee, and the Twin Cities.
South Central Wisconsin
Mid-Continent Railway Museum – E8948 Museum Road, North Freedom
South of Wisconsin Dells is Midwest branchline railroading at the turn of the 20th Century, recreated. Diesel-powered train rides take passengers over the former Chicago & North Western “Rattlesnake Line” from North Freedom, through the Baraboo Hills to Quartzite Lake. Indoor and outdoor exhibits are included with a collection of locomotives and wooden cars, many of which have been beautifully restored. Of course, the biggest restoration project to date is the future return of steam-powered trains in the form of the museum’s C&NW 4-6-0 No. 1385!
Other Wisconsin railroad sites to consider
During your visit to Wisconsin, consider also visiting these railroad sites:
- Brodhead Historical Society Depot – Brodhead
- Colfax Railroad Museum – Colfax
- Frederic Historical Society Museum – Frederic
- Mineral Point Railroad Museum – Mineral Point
- New London Historical Village – New London
- Osceola and St. Croix Valley Railway – Osceola
- Railroad Memories Museum – Spooner