Historic train makes its way to North Western Wisconsin

Published: Aug. 15, 2020 at 7:28 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The Mark Twain Zephyr is one of the most historic trains in the Midwest. Built in the 1930′s, it hasn’t been operated in 62 years.

The old train certainly shows its age. It creaks and paint is peeling from the walls.

However, in 2021 Robert Tabern with the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad says this old engine will be quite a sight to see.

“We’d almost rather have it in the shape than have all the old seats and stuff in it because now that we have all the junk out of the interior we are able to pretty much start from scratch and rebuild the train … this one will actually be one of the few zephyrs in the country that you can actually come up here and ride on,” said Tabern.

The stainless steel train was used deliver mail decades ago.

"People would just drop their mail in and if you mailed it by truck in a regular mailbox it might take three to four days but if you drop it on the train it could get to St. Louis or Iowa the next night".

Now, it’s planned to be fixed up with features such as a movie theater, museum, and more.

“For the last 60 plus years private owners across the Midwest have tried to refurbish this, they’ve never either had the time or money or the people to do it”.

Tabern says he believes the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad finally will be able to welcome passengers back on-board.

“We have full time carpenters, electricians, mechanical engineers and designers so we already have a team on hand of our employees who will be able to get this done,” said Tabern

"The next 4 cars will be coming up in the next couple weeks".

And as you could imagine, transporting a train car is no easy task.

“125 foot flat-bed truck, wide load truck and we’ve been bringing them up from the St. Louis area”

The trip up highway 94 attracts many train fanatics and Tabern said people tracked the delivery of the engine on their Facebook page, and line the highway just to see it go by.

“We have crews that will be following it up from St. Louis and posting the location so if your anywhere along 94 or 53 very good chance in the next couple of weeks it’s a very good time to keep an eye out for the 4 other cars that may be coming up your neck of the woods”

You can follow the Mark Twain Zephyr on Facebook to see updates on the train’s renovations and transportation.

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