Over the years we have learned that our name The Milwaukee Railroad Shops Historic District is just too much of a mouthful for people to say or remember. Our name was modified, changed and substituted by many, even to include our own volunteers and the press. Last year we participated in a Branding Triangle survey and workshops in conjunction with JD Gordon Creative Labs a marketing consultation and creative services firm here in Sioux City. Although the name The Milwaukee Railroad Shops Historic District is the most accurate name for our in-side the fence part of the rail yard complex it also was very misunderstood. Through our surveys and workshops we found that some folks thought the name represented a shopping mall or shopping center, some thought it was still an operating railroad and even others had no idea what the name meant at all. Only a few knew what we were about and even then still refereed to us as the railroad museum. Well, you don’t have to hit us over the head with a stick (too many times) for us to clue in. So, if you can’t beat them … join them. Many wonderful and intriguing names were dreamed up and tried out and yet as we learned, simple is best.
Our new name The Railroad Museum, Sioux City; it pretty much says it all. And it actually works better for our vision of the future and our long range goals. The Railroad Museum name encompasses the entire 31 acre complex. The actual Milwaukee Railroad Shops Historic District name will still be a part of the overall museum complex and location naming. The historic district is actually everything that is inside the fenced in area of the museum grounds. Due to the fact it is a Historic District there are certain guidelines and stipulations that we must follow to protect its historic integrity. Outside of the fenced area of the museum grounds we have a large riparian timberland area to our south and east to which we have designated as Nature Zones to help show off and protect the natural wonders and some of the critters surrounding the rail yard. To our west is a large field which is bordered by the Big Sioux River and a timbered river bank and our Historic District west fence. This area encompasses our agricultural area for our antique farm equipment that is displayed during our AG-Rail Events in August. But, parts of it will also be repurposed into what we are calling our Railfield Recreational Area. This area will have play pockets built to give children a chance to play and burn off some energy in railroad themed learning and playground areas. This same area will also serve as a trail head connector between the City of Sioux Cities Big Sioux River Trail system and a proposed Stone State Park Trail System.
Also, although we are located in the old Milwaukee Road locomotive servicing shops we are not a Milwaukee Road only focused museum. We want to teach people about all the railroads that operated in and still work in our regional area. Sioux City once had 6 of these Roundhouse servicing facilities so we have a lot of history to cover and a responsibility to remember those other important work sites that so many people worked in, for and around.
So come on down to The Railroad Museum, Sioux City. We are still the same great place with the same great volunteers….we just now have an easier name to remember us by.