Wednesday, July 2, 2014

During this holiday weekend, July 4 – 6, the Siouxland Historical Railroad Association will hold its Heritage Giving Weekend, a three-day online giving initiative to raise funds to construct the Sioux City & Dakota Grand Scale Railroad, a fun and educational railway ride exhibit to illustrate the history and importance of the railroads to Midwestern culture.
The intent of this project is to improve mobility and accessibility for children and their families while providing a train ride experience during visits to the Milwaukee Railroad Shops Historic District. Photos and videos of the train being built can be viewed at or Donations of $10 or more can be made by visiting
The crowd funding initiative seeks to raise $60,000 for the purchase of the train set and track building materials as part of a multi-phased project to build and install a park-style Miniature Railroad at its museum campus, located at 3400 Sioux River Road in Sioux City, Iowa. The Miniature Railroad will feature a classic-style 3-inch scale miniature park train that will run on a 1.5-mile rail line constructed with 15-inch gauge tracks.

This miniature railroad will be capable of running a three-car train set consisting of a vintage reproduction of the historic F-7 diesel locomotive with a four motor drive system and phoenix sound, two twelve-passenger economy coaches, and an ADA-compliant observation car. The train set is currently under construction at the Swannee River Railroad shops in Fort Worth, Texas.
Help us expand on our railroad experience by donating at today! 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Volunteers needed for Big Sioux River flooding preparation and cleanup. Museum will be closed through July 1st.

Hello all,

If you follow us on Facebook, then you've seen our post asking for help with preparing for the upcoming cresting of the Big Sioux River and the adverse effects it could have on our museum.

The crest of the Big Sioux River, as predicted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is expected to reach 110.3’, the highest crest since 1969. This crest could leave multiple areas of the museum with standing water and damage to valuable artifacts and exhibits.

Volunteers can help with tasks such as sandbagging, relocating gift shop items, preservation gallery materials, tools and other contents of the museum, wrapping buildings in sandbags and plastic, and general cleanup both before and after the cresting.

The museum will be completely closed to non-volunteers through this weekend, June 20-22. If you need to contact the museum regarding rescheduling of visits, questions about the reopening, etc., please call (712) 233-6996, and a staff member will return your call as soon as possible.

If you would like to aid in the flood preparation and cleanup process at any point, please contact Matt Merk at (712) 253-7531, or call the museum for more information.

Thanks for your help and support during this time. We're doing our best to protect and preserve our museum and its history. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Rail Walk 101 - Telling the Story

In association with the Western Iowa Technical Community College (WITCC) Lifelong Learning Program we will be hosting Rail Walk 101 on Saturday, June 7th from 10 am - Noon. If you are interested in participating please contact WITCC to register for this unique walking tour of the Milwaukee Railroad Shops Historic District.

Telling the Story
Saturday, June 7; 10 a.m. to noon
Location: Meet at the Milwaukee Railroad historic district, 3400 Sioux River Road,
Iowa Hwy. 12, two miles south of Stone State Park.
Fee: No charge Max: 50
Lifelong Learning membership required
Guided tour with walking
Course #14/FY-CPDV-2371-02
A Tour of the Milwaukee Railroad Shops Historic District

Join fellow Lifelong Learners for a private guided tour of this unique railroad historic site. You’ll
discover how the railroads built their infrastructure to transport people and goods across North America and hear about the fascinating information that came to light when the rail yard was being nominated for a listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

The story of the Milwaukee Road Roundhouse complex in Sioux City’s Riverside neighborhood is the story of the railroad industry and how it shaped Sioux City into the nation’s tenth largest railroad center during the 1920s and early 1930s. When the complex began operations in 1918 as the Sioux City Engine Terminal and Car Repair Shops, its design was revolutionary, combining all the
railroad’s cutting-edge facilities in one place.

This walking tour will give you a chance to view the surviving buildings and structures and learn about the architecture and their functional design. You will also be able to visit the ruins of over ten other buildings and structures.

The complex was built in 1917 by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railway Company, more commonly known as The Milwaukee Road. It was the second largest shop complex in the Milwaukee’s system. In its heyday, the site covered more than 50 acres of land and included more than 25 buildings. It employed over 500 people and served an average of 72 trains per day. The complex was finally closed in 1981when the railroad went bankrupt. It only employed two people when the doors were shut for the last time.

Over the following years the complex was converted into a salvage yard and all the buildings fell into disrepair. In 1995 the City of Sioux City awarded the Siouxland Historical Railroad Association a grant to purchase the complex and clean-up/restoration work has been ongoing ever since. Thanks to federal, state, and local grants and donations from businesses and visitors the past few years have
seen unprecedented building and grounds restoration. On this tour, you will see the progress that’s been made to date and learn about ambitious plans for the future.

Note: Please dress appropriately for weather. Please wear protective shoes – no open toe or high heels – for walking and slacks to protect your legs. Tour proceeds rain or shine.

Saturday, May 17, 2014


We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that attended and supported our Rails & Cocktails fundraiser Thursday night May 15th at the Sergeant Bluff Community Center. The entertainment provided by Matt D, Garie Lewis, and Mike Langely was spectacular. A very special heart felt thank you goes out to these three individuals for volunteering to donate their time and talents to help us out. If you ever hear of any of these very talented gentlemen performing near you; they are definitely a MUST SEE performance. You will be so very happy that you went to see them.

A good time was had by everybody in attendance and those that participated in the auctions were rewarded with some truly amazing great deals. Also, and I cannot stress this enough, this entire event could not have happened without the wonderful support and generosity of our community business'  that provided auction items, food, and beverages.

WalMart, Rays Midbell Music, Vac Shack, Complete Nutrition, Cookies BBQ, Glazer's, Sioux City Bandits, Sioux City Explorers, River City Amusements, Jolly Time Popcorn, Thinker Toys, Palmer Candy, Awesome Biker Nights, Indigo Pallet, Hannel Cellars, Odell & Dorothy Overgaard, Two Rivers Golf Club, Whispering Creek Golf Club, Braungers Meats, Jiffy Lube, Rocket Auto Wash, Hamilton Touchless Auto Wash, Carmike Cinemas, Scheels, Greenberg's Jewelers, Aggies Restaurant, Direct PC, Bush Cleaners, Roosters Harley Davidson, Fareway, Subway, and Massage & Body.

The next time you stop in and visit any of these wonderful sponsors please tell them how much you appreciate their help of our museum and give them a heart felt thank you for us. This museum is a result of each and everyone in our community lending a hand and pitching in. Whether it is though volunteer labor, visiting as a paying customer, or supporting us through donations and good will gestures such as this fundraiser we are all making Sioux City a better place to raise our families and enjoy our free time together.

Please be sure to keep checking back with this blog site for the latest updates and news about The Railroad Museum, Sioux City and checkout our web site for a list of upcoming events and more information about the museum and the Milwaukee Railroad Shops Historic District at

Here are some pictures from the event for you to enjoy.

Here's the room almost set-up and ready to go.

Matt D started off the evening with a fantastic set.

Some of the crowd enjoying the nights entertainment.

Garie Lewis cracked up the audience with his comedic wit and also played a couple tunes with Mike Langley

 Iowa Music Hall of Fame inductee Mike Langely had the crowd clapping, tow tapping and singing along to the music. A fantastic way to end the evenings entertainment.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Railroad Museum’s economic impact exceeds $2.7 million in 2013

Just a few years ago, who would have envisioned a derelict and blighted old
railroad yard turned junk yard could be a major community attraction? Like the
little engine that could, the Siouxland Historical Railroad Association
continues to show that once blighted, brownfield properties can be renovated
by passion and persistence, and become an economic hub of activity again
through historic preservation work and heritage tourism programs.

Visitors to the Milwaukee Railroad Shops Historic District in Sioux City spent
over $1.8 million in the local area and supported over 37 jobs in the
community in 2013, according to a new economic impact report issued by the
Siouxland Historical Railroad Association (SHRA). According to the report,
most visitor spending supports jobs in restaurants, convenience stores, gas
stations, and hotels and motels.

Matt Merk, executive director, reported a record 47,374 people visited the
railroad museum – the Milwaukee Railroad Shops Historic District – in
2013. “We attracted visitors from across the country and around the world”
said Merk in a statement. “Our biggest visitor base is families with
children. Approximately 73 percent of our visitor parties include a child.
It’s not uncommon for us to see intergenerational families of a child,
parent, and grandparent” adds Merk.

The new economic impact report shows cultural heritage tourism and historic
preservation are significant drivers in the local economy. The $1.8 million
generated by visitor spending added over $131,000 in state and local sales tax
revenues. Combined with indirect spending and the volunteer labor needed to
operate the railroad museum, the railroad museum’s total economic impact
exceeded $2.7 million during 2013.

The economic impact study is conducted through data gathered by visitor
surveys and entered into a visitor spending analysis model developed in 2008
by a graduate student at the University of Nebraska – Omaha. The number of
jobs impacted is calculated by using the peer-reviewed Arts & Economic
Prosperity IV input/output model developed by the Americans for the Arts.

The Milwaukee Railroad Shops Historic District is located adjacent to the Big
Sioux River and Loess Hills National Scenic Byway in Sioux City’s north
Riverside area along Iowa State Highway 12. Built in 1917-1918, the Milwaukee
Railroad Shops Historic District is one of the largest remaining steam
locomotive-servicing facilities in the Midwest. The 31.5-acre site consists of
a roundhouse with turntable, machine/blacksmith shop building, car/carpenter
shop building, sand drying house with wood sand tower, engineer’s tool shed
and a water closet building. This historic site also contains eighteen other
historical remnants, including foundations of the water tower, boiler house
and coaling tower.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Rails & Cocktails - Fund Raising Event, Thursday May 15th at 6 PM


We have reached a critical and very exciting time in our museum development and we could really could use your help. The Siouxland Historical Railroad Association (SHRA) which owns and operates The Railroad Museum, Sioux City is a private 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that does not receive any form of  a local, state, federal, government or public annual operating budget.

We are a 97% all volunteer organization that is trying very hard to improve the quality of life in our community by giving families a fun and educational place to hang-out together and create life long memories. We are trying to develop a top notch nationally recognized tourist attraction for Sioux City to help draw in more dollars to support our community business's and bolster employment throughout the community. We are also active in community employment training and learning opportunities through the Siouxland Senior Employment Program, Youth Services Summer Employment Programs, college internships, Life Long Learning Programs, and free children's activities such as school tours, summer kids program tours, and Scouting just to mention a few.

However, no matter how hard we try there is always one universal truth that we cannot escape. And that is MONEY. Everything that we do has a cost associated with it. Even though we have a truly exceptional group of volunteers that annually donate about 17,000 hours to help pull this off there are certain things that just cannot be accomplished without dollars in hand.

As we approach the end of our 20 year long construction efforts to rehabilitate, reclaim, and re-purpose this once thriving rail yard turned junk yard into a railroad museum/tourist attraction that all of Siouxland can be proud of we are in need of funds to support this effort.

To that end we are throwing party! Please see the details on the attached poster and make plans to help us help our community. Please help pass the word to all your friends and workmates. There are many wonderful items that will be available to bid on and if you are not the auction bidding type please come down and visit with us and enjoy the great entertainment that will be provided throughout the night. We love this town, and we love the people in it. Thank you for all your support in the past and we hope to see you at our fund raiser.

National Train Day & Classic Car Show, Saturday May 10th


This Saturday, May 10th from 10 am to 4 pm come on down to the Railroad Museum, Sioux City for our first big event of the year. Come help us celebrate National Train Day and Sioux City Historic Preservation Week. Come see the new displays and additions that were created over the winter months. Learn about the upcoming construction and restoration efforts that will be starting this summer. Here's a list of other things that you'll find:
- Great Northern Steam Locomotive #1355 will be pulled out of the roundhouse at 10:30 am and put on outdoor display on the turntable.
- Food Vendors
- Free Motor Car Rides
- Music
- Tom Munson from the Sioux City Public Museum will speak about the history of railroad deleopment in Sioux City at 11:00 am in the car shops building.
- Dr. Rudy Daniels will speak about Railroads in the US during WW2 at 1:30 pm in the car shops building.
- Classic Cars on display! If you have a classic car, truck, or motorcycle that you would like to show off please bring it down to be displayed. Admission is free for those that bring their classic vehicle down to be displayed. And, as an extra bonus, we will have a special area set-up so that you can take a picture of your classic with our beautiful steam locomotive GN #1355 in the background.
- The Rail Yard Characters will be on hand to interact with our guests.
- At 3:30 pm the Epic Iowa Road Trip will pull into the rail yard complex in recognition of our efforts to promote tourism in the Sioux City area and the State of Iowa and allow state tourism officals a chance to see and experience some of Iowa's unique community attractions and destinations.
The fun doesn't stop their either. Come join us Saturday evening for more fun and excitement at the Sioux City Bandits vs Omaha Beef indoor football game at the Tyson Event Center. Kick-off is at 7 pm.  This I-29 rivalry always brings out the best in both teams and the excitement will sure to be at a fever pitch. We will have a table set up in the main hallway to visit with you and answer any of your questions. Also, some of our Rail Yard Characters will be on hand to interact with and have photos taken with.
Railroads, classic cars, history, and football .... does it really get any better than this? What a great way to spend a fun-filled day with your family.