Relax during summer afternoons dining aboard the train riding through the Baraboo Hills at the Mid-Continent Railway Museum, an outdoor living-history museum in the rural crossroads of North Freedom, Wis., seven miles west of Baraboo. Reserve tickets early for 11 dinner trains June to October 2017 from Cajun and Italian, beer and wine tasting, to the five-course Elegant Dinner Train.
25 minutes west of the Inn at Wawanissee Point www.innatwawanisseepoint.com step back in time at this museum that recreates and preserves the short-line railroad experience of Midwestern small towns from the 1880s to 1916, railroading’s golden age.
A conductor and docents in authentic, period attire host you during a 55-minute ride along seven miles of former Chicago & North Western Railway track through the Baraboo Bluffs. Coach and caboose service are in a restored 1915 steel coach car. Dinner service is in two restored first-class railcars, the C & NW 3440 business car and the Soo Line #2017 diner-lounge car.
The museum is open daily June 3–Sept. 4, 2017, weekends only May 13–29 and Sept. 9 to Oct. 15. Train rides commence at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. daily regardless of weather, but during special events there may be additional service.
The grounds feature the depot, the Coach Shed filled with award-winning restored wooden passenger and freight cars, and displays from the turn of the 20th century in a historically accurate, rural railroad environment. In and around the Coach Shed are 13 steam locomotives; dozens of cabooses and passenger and freight cars; and service equipment, some restored and others in process or awaiting work by a team of dedicated volunteers.
The dinner trains are in addition to the regularly scheduled coach and caboose services, so check the web page for each event to confirm departure options. Dinner trains include the same 55-minute ride but with fine dining in first-class service.
June 17–18: BBQ Train: June 17 at 1:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., and June 18 at 1:00 p.m. A three-course meal of barbeque delights with side dishes and a choice of beer, wine or soda prepared by chef Mike Althen of Baraboo’s Elite Catering. Tickets $47.00. See the menu at www.midcontinent.org/train-ride-information/bbq-train/
July 1–2: Stars & Stripes Weekend. Not a dinner train but a special event with food celebrating America aboard the trains that helped build the nation. Museum is specially decorated for Independence Day and America-themed historical displays, temporary patriotic tattoos, free snow cones for all train riders and American classics in the Pavilion food stand like hot dogs, brats, fresh-grilled hamburgers and apple pie! Active-duty, retired and reserve-military personnel ride free in coach class this weekend. www.midcontinent.org/stars-stripes-special/
July 22: Macaroni Express at 1:00 p.m. A four-course meal of cheesy macaroni with beverages prepared by chef Mike Althen of Baraboo’s Elite Catering. Tickets $47.00. See the menu at www.midcontinent.org/train-ride-information/onboard-dining/macaroni-express/
July 22: Margarita & Taco Train departs at 5:30 p.m. for 1.5 hours to 2 hours. South-of-the-border Fare of salsa, chips, ice-cold margaritas (nonalcoholic, too), tacos served family-style with toppings of your choice, dessert and your choice of beer, wine or soda. Tickets $47.00. www.midcontinent.org/train-ride-information/onboard-dining/margarita-taco-train/
Aug. 26: Pizza Train at 1:00 p.m. Your choice from four kinds of 9-inch personal pan-pizzas and beer or soda. Tickets $37.00. More details at www.midcontinent.org/train-ride-information/pizza-train/
Aug. 26: Beer Train at 3:00 p.m. Beer tasting of Wisconsin microbrews and snacks in the first-class cars. Tickets $42.00. More details at www.midcontinent.org/train-ride-information/onboard-dining/beer-train/
Aug. 26: Italian Trio Train at 5:30 p.m. A three-course Italian meal with beverages prepared by chef Mike Althen of Baraboo’s Elite Catering. Tickets $52.00. See the menu at www.midcontinent.org/train-ride-information/onboard-dining/italian-trio-train/
Sept. 16: Cajun Train at 1:00 p.m. A three-course Cajun meal with beverages prepared by chef Mike Althen of Baraboo’s Elite Catering. Tickets $47.00. See the menu at www.midcontinent.org/train-ride-information/onboard-dining/cajun-train/
Sept. 16: Wine On The Rails departs at 5:30 p.m. for 2.0 hours to 2.5 hours. Sampling from some of Sauk County’s best local wineries, each offering wine tasting with pairings. Tickets $52.00. Details at www.midcontinent.org/train-ride-information/wine-on-the-rails
Sept. 30: Elegant Dinner Train
Oct. 7: Elegant Dinner Train During Autumn Color Weekend www.midcontinent.org/train-ride-information/autumn-color/
Oct. 14: Elegant Dinner Train During Pumpkin Special www.midcontinent.org/train-ride-information/pumpkin-special/
Photos courtesy of Mid-Continent Railway Musuem.