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Wisconsin Dells MINIRAMA attraction of the 1960's

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Wisconsin Dells MINIRAMA attraction of the 1960's
Posted by Wisconsin on Sunday, February 9, 2020 7:42 AM

I would like to talk with people who remember the Dells MINIRAMA, especially looking for someone with pictures, slides, etc. and movies of the operation. I have some of the trains from the attraction, always looking out for more. Thank you.

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Posted by mbinsewi on Sunday, February 9, 2020 10:18 AM

I'm born and lived in WI. for all but 6 years of my life, never been there. Confused

In the 80's, we took our kids to just about every place but the Dells.  The wife took her Brownie Troop there once, but never left the water park thet stayed at.

I've just spent some time looking at images, from a search of the attraction.

An "O" scale layout of the Dells area, it really looks cool!  Looks like the WI Historical Society has some info on it, as well.

There's a picture of "Pauline Bunyun", standing in the river, holding up a boat.

Picture says you can share a number of different ways, so it should be OK to post.

There is a Facebook page, but it hasn't been added to since 2018, the best I can tell.

https://www.facebook.com/Minirama-428776027145359/

I'll have to watch this thread and see what comes up!

Thanks for bringing it up!

Mike.

  • Member since
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  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
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Posted by dknelson on Sunday, February 9, 2020 12:34 PM

The June 1965 Model Railroader had an article with pictures, and I believe various pictures appeared in Trackside Photos back in the 1960s.  

My family went to the Dells around 1957 and never went back.  All I remember is Storybook Garden (and the "real" Bo-Peep with real lambs) and the Sandley miniature railroad you could ride.  

Dave Nelson

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Posted by Mark B on Sunday, February 9, 2020 12:59 PM

I remember going to see this when I was in Jr High school. It was a great attraction for a budding model railroader. Where else could you walk off the street into a miniature world of which you just came through? The tour boats moving in the river were interesting but I always thought the water was too clear and you could see the tracks the boats traveled on. The rolling stock was spot on. One of my coffee klatch friends built several of the refrigerator cars. I could have spent the whole day there, but my sister wanted to go to StoryBook Gardens. Meh....

Rode the large scale live steam railroad which was a treat

Unfortunately Minirama is gone and the Dells have become thoroughly trashed with water parks, tourist "attractions", traffic congestion, T-shirt stands,and fast food places.

Mark B.

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Posted by mbinsewi on Sunday, February 9, 2020 1:09 PM

I had to check that out, Dave.  It's a 3 page article, focusing on servicing and maintaining the locos that run continuously, day after day, from the Memorial day opening to the Labor Day closing.

During that time period, most of the locos run about 320 miles, some over 400.

It doesn't say where they get the locos, or who makes them.  It does say the Milwaukee Road S-1 steam locomotive cost $925.  (I can't get the emojis to work) so with a surprise look, I respond, Gee, you could buy a fairly new car for that much in the 60's!

Mike.

PS.  Disvovered why the emojis weren't working,  the site, as it does about 4 or 5 times a day, went dead, no response from anything, and it took over 10 minutes for my post to load.

Oh well, don't we all just love it here!

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Posted by OT Dean on Monday, February 10, 2020 1:21 AM

Wisconsin

I would like to talk with people who remember the Dells MINIRAMA, especially looking for someone with pictures, slides, etc. and movies of the operation. I have some of the trains from the attraction, always looking out for more. Thank you.

 

I took my nephews to visit the Minirama and Sandley's Light Railway three years in a row, back in the '60s.  The layout was SPECTACULAR, with the railroad and river in miniature, all controlled electronically.  It showed the Milwaukee Road's progress, "train-wise," starting with a Max Gray Porter Mogul and mixed train and working its way up through the original Hiawatha, with the "Speedliner" A's (streamlined Atlantic 4-4-2s) to the "Beavertail" observation car, all the way through the gorgeous diesel-powered consists with the "Skytop Lounge" cars.  The circus train, pulled by a (or was it double-headed?) MILW S-type Northern (4-8-4) was a sight to behold.  It's a shame the attraction couldn't keep going--and I think the third time we went there we found Madame Tussaud's attraction where the train attraction was.  BTW, the 15" gauge, live steam Riverside & Great Northern Railway is still gloing strong from April through October.  Search for it on the web for details--and some great videos.

Deano

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  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, February 10, 2020 6:15 AM

The first time I visited the Dells was in 1975, and now I am sad, because I never saw this attraction. It sounds great.

.

I also never saw Charlemagne's Kingdon in Helen, Georgia.

.

-Kevin

.

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by Wisconsin on Friday, February 14, 2020 9:58 AM

You are correct about the clear water. But in the early years it was dyed a root beer color to simulate the Tamarack color of the Wisconsin River. Problem was, that in the early years, it was a chain drive and sprocket affair, and when the chains came off, the water had to be lowered to help find the problems. Since the "tank" held 10, 700 gallons of water this was a problem and an expence. Eventually the underwater locomotive was designed and refined later and that third try was the winner.

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Posted by John-NYBW on Friday, February 14, 2020 10:12 AM

I remember our family traveling on vacation from Minneapolis to Milwaukee in 1965 and seeing billboards for the Wisconsin Dells. My parents discussed whether we should make a diversion to the Dells but ultimately decided we didn't have the time. Reading about the Minirama now makes me wish we had. Sorry to hear that Minnirama is gone. I might add the Wisconsin Dells to my bucket list. I've crossed off most of the items on it and I'm a little worried about what happens when you run out of things on your list. 

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Posted by Wisconsin on Friday, February 14, 2020 11:29 AM

Yes, the State Hist. Soc. has the archives of the HH Bennet Studio, and that business owned Minirama. Prints are not cheap, I have bought several, which is why they end up on the WHS website. But I'd like to find home movies and slides of the operation.

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Posted by Wisconsin on Friday, February 14, 2020 11:30 AM

Be sure and stop in North Freedom and see the great railroad Museum there. They may be running steam soon, back to what they did until 2001.

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Posted by Wisconsin on Friday, February 14, 2020 11:32 AM

If I could figure out how to post a couple of my slides in my picture file, I'd post some.

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Posted by Wisconsin on Friday, February 14, 2020 11:36 AM

Yes, 1965 is when an article was written up about the trains and maintainence to them. The trains traveled an actual 325+/- actual miles per year, that equals over 3,000 actual miles in their 10 years of operation. The engines and all, held up well.

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Posted by Wisconsin on Friday, February 14, 2020 11:45 AM

Deano: Glad you remember the Minirama, wish you had pictures to share or send me. The Circus Train was pulled (doubleheaded) by two Hines Lines 2-8-2s which pulled 22 circus cars in all. The Hiawatha 4-4-2 was scratch built in brass, and pulled five cars. The 4-8-4 was a kit bashed 4-8-4 Greenbrier as they call them downsouth. It pulled a huge freight train of about 60 cars. The Diesels were All Nation. The Milwaukee Road passenger train was in the U.P. yellow scheme and was 14 cars long. A diesel powered freight was also in the mix. In the back room was a Max Gray Big Boy that you could be a "junior engineer", plug in a coin into the coin op and run the engine back and forth on about 10 feet or so of track.

 
Wisconsin

I would like to talk with people who remember the Dells MINIRAMA, especially looking for someone with pictures, slides, etc. and movies of the operation. I have some of the trains from the attraction, always looking out for more. Thank you.

 

 

 

I took my nephews to visit the Minirama and Sandley's Light Railway three years in a row, back in the '60s.  The layout was SPECTACULAR, with the railroad and river in miniature, all controlled electronically.  It showed the Milwaukee Road's progress, "train-wise," starting with a Max Gray Porter Mogul and mixed train and working its way up through the original Hiawatha, with the "Speedliner" A's (streamlined Atlantic 4-4-2s) to the "Beavertail" observation car, all the way through the gorgeous diesel-powered consists with the "Skytop Lounge" cars.  The circus train, pulled by a (or was it double-headed?) MILW S-type Northern (4-8-4) was a sight to behold.  It's a shame the attraction couldn't keep going--and I think the third time we went there we found Madame Tussaud's attraction where the train attraction was.  BTW, the 15" gauge, live steam Riverside & Great Northern Railway is still gloing strong from April through October.  Search for it on the web for details--and some great videos.

 

Deano

 

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