Member Information & FAQ

Steam Engine

How do I become a member?

Send your membership form to, or come to a work day or run day and complete a membership form in person. Membership dues for 2020 are included on the form.

What are members' responsibilities?

Since the Chippewa Northwestern Railway is hosted on the grounds of the Seward County Historical Museum, we ask that you join the museum as an annual member. 


Members are expected to regularly help with club events (typically two per month), May through October: the club work day (Saturdays) and the public run day (Sundays). We realize that people are busy and no one can make every event, but local members are expected to participate in multiple work days and public run days each year. The start of each season features multiple work days once the ground thaws.


You break it, you fix it (or learn to fix it)

Members are expected to treat all equipment with respect. All equipment is privately owned. If you break anything, it is your responsibility to fix it, or learn how to fix it. Club members are happy to teach you how to make repairs.

I don't own a train. How can I get into the hobby?

 Work days are for everyone! We have a range of MOW (Maintenance of Way) tasks, from sweeping pine needles, raking leaves, picking up pine cones, mowing, trimming trees, to track replacement, ballasting, electrical work (switches, signals), painting, and more. Some people like to build or repair 1/12 scale scenery. Many members are willing to teach you to run their equipment. Some members collaborate to purchase an engine together. Some members start by building their own cars. Discover Live Steam has hobby equipment for sale (see Related Links).

Do you have age limits? Can I bring my children?

Model railroading has entry points for people of all ages and experience levels.  We welcome children (and adults) of any age as visitors to and/or volunteers for the Chippewa Northwestern Railway Society. All children must be accompanied by a supervising adult. The Chippewa Northwestern Railway Society is not responsible for supervising children. Children not accompanied by an adult will be asked to leave, for their safety and the safety of others. You are responsible for your children, and are expected to supervise them closely. Live steam is boiling hot (literally) and the club has lots of tools and equipment not suitable for unsupervised children. You may be asked to leave if your unsupervised children create problems. Due to insurance regulations, all engineers pulling passengers (other than immediate family) must be at least 13 years old and be trained to operate equipment.

When can I come out? Where exactly do I go?

As a member, you can come any time. We strongly encourage people to come out with others (and to avoid being alone at the railroad). Please sign the log whenever you are track side, for any reason.

Click back to the home page for directions to the railroad, on the grounds of the Seward County Museum.

On a work day, you can park in the museum parking lot (near the school house), along Bessie Street (gravel road along the west side), or in the "infield" (near the depot and engine houses, or along the perimeter by the car barn or garage). When someone is mowing or when conditions are muddy, avoid parking in the infield. Do not block the loading area. On run days, park along the west side or in the infield.

Are there other member benefits?

Members get access to the camera feed from the grounds, so can observe events when you aren't able to attend in person.

How do I find out more?

 The Chippewa Northwestern Railway Society maintains an email list called the switchlist. Email to be added to the list. Run days, work days, other events, and news get sent around on the email list. The calendar link at the top of this webpage has current events listed. The Chippewa Northwestern Railway Society has a Facebook page that has event announcements.




  Any two officers of this organization who have determined an individual is deliberately out of compliance with the rules and procedures in this time table will direct the individual to cease operations until further notice.

Anyone who fails to show respect to guests, members, volunteers, buildings, grounds, and exhibits will be immediately asked to leave.


General Rules


  • Rule 1a Safety First, Last and Always.
  • Rule 1b If you can break it, you can fix it.
  • Rule 1c If you think you need help, get help.
  • Rule 1d If you get it out, put it away or make arrangements to have it put away.
  • Rule 1e Walk around trains, do not step over them.
  • Rule G. No operation of a Locomotive will be permitted by anyone under the influence of alcohol or drugs.


Rules Governing Passengers

  • All passengers and visitors must stay behind yellow line on station platform until permission is given to board the train. Once passengers have boarded train they MUST be informed of the rules governing them as riders.
  • Rule 200: Passengers MUST remain seated at all times.
  • Rule 201: Passengers MUST not reach for anything at any time.
  • Rule 202: Passengers MUST not lean from side to side.
  • Rule 203: Passengers MUST board and detrain only when the train is staying in a station or instructed by the train crew.


Passenger Car Loading

6500 Series cars maximum load will be One (1) Adult or One Adult and Two (2) children or Three (3) Small Children. Car loading must not exceed 250 pounds. General public must ride on 6500 series riding cars at all times.


Car Barn Instructions

  Track count is from right to left, South to North. Track #1 is on the right and Track #6 is on the left or North side.

Scale passenger cars must be kept on Track #1

ALL 6500 Series Riding cars Must be kept on Track #2

Freight cars must fill track #6, then track #5, then track #4, with track #3 the last to be used for car storage. 

Track #1 closest to the door is the location for the track maintenance cars.

MOW and Special Instructions


Maintenance of Way

All Grounds Tools, Shovels, Racks and the likes must be kept in Alpine Station unless otherwise listed here.

Wheel Barrow ..................... Stored in Museum Garage

One Switch Broom .............. Inside Goehner Station

Switch Brooms .................... Inside Alpine Station

All Shovels .......................... Inside Alpine Station

Rakes .................................. Inside Alpine Station

Weed Spraying apparatus .... Inside Alpine Station

Track Tools and Tool Box ... On M.O.W car

One Switch Broom 

& Square End Shovel ......... On Rock Car

Track #1 closest to the door is the location for the track maintenance cars.


Slow Order Flag or Board Protection

 A yellow board or flag is placed as you approach a slow order section of track to the right of the track (engineer's side) 10 feet or approximately one rail section in advance of a slow order.  At the end of the restriction, a green board is placed to the left of the track (fireman side) 10 feet or approximately one rail section past the slow order. Movement through a slow order must be at restricted speed of 30 MPH, once the last car of a train is past the green board, the train may resume normal speed.


Remote Controlled Engines

  Any person controlling a remote-controlled engine must be on the car immediately following the engine at all times when hauling passengers. When switching on yard tracks or sidings, controller must have line of sight of entire train. When running on mainline, controller must be within 30 feet of locomotive at all times.


Trackside Signs

Sign post displaying “W” is a Whistle post for approaching grade crossing, appropriate whistle rule applies.

Sign post displaying “S” is a Station post. This post is set ½ mile before the station, appropriate whistle rule applies.


Speed Restrictions

  Mainline Maximum speed

Passenger 80 MPH

Freight 70 MPH

Sidings maximum speed

Passenger 35 MPH

Freight 35 MPH

Yard tracks, spur track, industrial spurs, leg of wye

All movements over these tracks not to exceed 15 MPH

Passenger Station Tracks

Tracks #1 & #2 at Goehner station max. speed 25 MPH

Standing trains on track #1 must leave one car length between trains for passenger access to track #2.

Standing Speed Restriction

M.P. 4.00 to M.P. 4.15 (South Goehner Plant) maximum allowable speed over turnouts 35 MPH.

Long Train Restriction

Trains longer than 15 cars include locomotive or locomotives, Caboose and or business cars must operate at 10 MPH less than max allowed speed for class of train for that track.

Passenger trains with 4 or more cars able of handling public passengers and on public run days MUST have a Conductor seat at the rear of the train and behind all passengers.

Do not follow another train closer than ¼ mile (one Quarter Mile-marker post to the next).


Other Special Instructions

   Train Priority

General public passenger trains have priority on Tracks 1 & 2 , Goehner Station, and take priority on mainline.

Trains on mainline always take priority over all sidings.

Beginning Engineers

All beginning engineers must be in direct verbal and visual contact with an experienced engineer at all times when operating any equipment.

Finding Parts

There is a tub in the gray cabinet south of the garage (by car barn lead) with “lost and found” parts. Please look in this tub to find parts your train may have lost.


Drought Operations

This policy will be activated by the board when the board determines there is a high risk of a fire from sparks or embers.

The policy when activated will be emailed out to the switchlist and posted in RED on the Track Board by the departure/arrival track for the steaming facility.

Any operation not following this policy that subsequently causes a fire may be subject to legal action from the Society, and will be responsible for paying any related insurance costs incurred (e.g., deductible).

Drought Policy Operational Requirements

  • Approved Spark Arrestor
  • Ash Pans closed
  • Wind under 5 MPH steady and with gust to 8 MPH
  • Fire extinguishers are filled and out (Goehner Station, North Loop, Alpine)
  • Hoses are out and ready
  • Tracks are swept/raked clean back to ballast edge
  • At least two adult members present for the entire time.
  • The entire tracks are walked by two adult members no more than 30 minutes after last coal burning train runs.

Operational Bulletin: Steaming Bay Cabinet and Firestarters


Starter Kits: Overview

A “best practice” at the Chippewa for starting a fire in our steam locomotives is to put together a starter kit. These kits are a 1 lb. coffee can that is filled with broken up charcoal briquets. Just before putting the charcoal in the firebox a liberal amount of Lighter fluid is sprayed over the broken briquets, the lib put on and the can is shaken.

Not all charcoal and lighter fluids are created equally. You want a briquet that when broken does not just turn into dust and crumbs. You want very clean burning lighter fluid. Some cheaper brands can leave a residue on the flues which promotes soot build up.


Starter Kits: Instructions

The kits are very simple in putting together. Start off with a briquet and strike it just hard enough to fracture it into three or four large pieces with a hammer. Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes and gloves to protect your fingers. 

This is a very dirty task.


Starter Kits: Keeping Them "Clean"

 If you drop a piece of charcoal on the ground leave it. This is because when you pick it up you can also bring back some limestone chips. This will turn into slag in your fire.  


Starter Kits: Breaking the Charcoal

 Here is a broken briquet, it takes only one or two hits to get the briquet to break up like shown in the picture. 


Steaming Bay Cabinet

In the cabinet west of the steaming bays and next to the unloading lift is where we keep supplies used by steam locomotives. Steam cylinder oil, Starter kits and the items need to make them, screened coal and other miscellaneous items.


Where to put Starter Kits


The top shelf of kits is full and ready to use kits.

The bottom shelf of kits is empty kits. These cans are also turned upside down when returning to the cabinet.


Steam Cylinder Oil


To the left of the starter kits is the blue oil can. This contains steam cylinder oil.  


Screened Coal; Responsibilities

  At the bottom of the cabinet are buckets of screened coal. The white jug is the bulk container of steam cylinder oil. 


The starter kits, steam cylinder oil, and buckets of coal are for all members to use as well as guests to the railroad.

As a Chippewa member using these items, you have a responsibility to keep the items stocked and the cabinet clean.