The Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad operates special steam excursions behind a Chinese built steam locomotive, the 2-8-2 JS No. 8419, from Memorial Day until the end of October. The ever popular narrow gauge steam train rides operate on the Midwest Central Railroad in Mt Pleasant. The Iowa Interstate Railroad operates occasional steam excursions using Chinese built 2-10-2’s, numbers 6988 and 7081.
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Iowa’s first chartered railroad was the Mississippi & Missouri, established in 1853. Today, Amtrak’s California Zephyr and the Southwest Chief transverse the largest portion of the state’s 3900 miles of tracks. Iowa has 23 steam locomotives, including 6 that are listed as operational. Steam locomotives CB&Q 915 and 4-8-4 Union Pacific 814 are on display in Council Bluffs. CB&Q 4-6-4 No. 3001 is on display at Ballingall Park in Ottumwa. The Hawkeye state hosts 3 major corridors between Chicago and the West Coast, with freight services divided between Union Pacific and BNSF.
The Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad runs scenic train rides that include a Pumpkin Express, a Santa Express and a Day Out With Thomas. A two and a half hours scenic Dinner Train offers elegant dining as it travels through the Des Moines River Valley, featuring historic 1950’s railcars which were used on the Union Pacific Railroad’s “City” trains. The B&SVR operates a Chinese built steam locomotive, the 2-8-2 JS 8419, on special steam excursions during the summer. Static displays in include the 1940 Crab Orchard and Egyptian Railroad #17, the last 2-8-0 built in Canada. Directions
Trainland U.S.A. is an operating toy train museum, displaying Lionel trains and accessories.It is so named because it depicts the development of the railroad across the United States. This exhibit represents three eras of time; frontier, steam, and diesel. The display area is the size of two average ranch style homes. The center section is the frontier and steam era, while the outside is diesel which runs from coast to coast. All scenery is hand painted and the entire layout is glass enclosed. Four control panels create an automated train control system with their own telephone communications. There are approximately 60 operating Lionel accessories still in their original state.
The RailWest Railroad Museum occupies a former 1899 Chicago Rock Island and Pacific Railroad passenger depot that includes a model railroad display. Static locomotive displays include 4-6-0 CB&Q 915 and 4-8-4 Union Pacific 814.
The Union Pacific collection was started in 1921, following the discovery of several pieces of silver hollow ware from President Abraham Lincoln’s funeral car. Today, the museum houses one of the oldest corporate collections in the nation and includes artifacts, photographs, and documents ranging from the railroad’s construction in the 1860s to contemporary operations. The Carnegie Library Building at 200 Pearl St., home for the museum, was constructed in 1903. The Union Pacific Railroad Museum includes artifacts, photographs and documents that trace the development of the railroad and the American West. The collection dates to the mid-1800’s, featuring original editions of reports from survey teams that searched for the best land route to join the nation, east to west. Surveying equipment, early rail equipment, and artifacts from the construction of the nation’s first transcontinental railroad tell the story of one of the world’s construction marvels.
Midwest Central Railroad operates a narrow-gauge train ride making a full circle around McMillan Park, approximately a mile and a quarter. The MCRR has owned and sold various locomotives in its history. Unique collection includes the No 6, an 1891 Surrey, Sussex & Southampton Railroad 2-6-0 and #12, a 2-6-2 Prairie engine built by Baldwin for the Kahului Railway Company in Hawaii. Volunteers maintain 3 operating engines, along with rail cars, tracks, numerous buildings and bits of other equipment. The railroad traded ex-West Side Lumber Co. Shay No. 9 to Georgetown Loop in Colorado for that railroad’s locomotive No. 12.