Thursday, March 5, 2015

Please Help, Photo's Needed

     The writing of the nomination to list the Milwaukee Railroad Shops Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places is nearing completion. The nomination package will be submitted no later than mid-April.
      Our nomination package contains a comprehensive history of the site, as well as a look at Sioux City's railroad history and the broader industry of steam railroad repair shops. The nomination will feature photos documenting changes in both the complex's history... and Sioux City's railroad history. The photo's above in the header of this blog page provide pictures of two of the 3 shifts of workers that worked at the roundhouse in the 1930's. The center picture is a view from the top of the coal tower looking north toward the roundhouse from sometime in the 1920's.  
      We continue to build our archives of photos illustrating the railroad industry's relationship with our area. If you have any photos of any of the railroads in the Sioux City area and you wish to contribute to our archives, please contact us by e-mail at
     Please take a look at some of your old photo's even personal family pictures with railroad backgrounds such as trains, shop interiors/exteriors, crossings, passenger stations and freight house interiors/exteriors. Sometimes the details in the background of a photo can hold a treasure trove of historical information.
    Thank you all for your continued help and support as we develop this wonderful museum. We could never do this with out you.

Monday, February 23, 2015

2015 Schedule of Events - Season Opening Sat. Feb 28th

Hello everybody! This weekend is Opening Weekend for the 2015 season and oh boy howdy do we have quite the busy schedule laid out for this year. This will be the busiest and most exciting year in our history when it comes to building restoration. This year we are having new permeant bathrooms installed just to the south of the Machine/Blacksmith Shop Building. Although they won’t be operational until we get water plumbed into the complex they will be ready to use as soon as we can get the water connected. These will be nice flushable water bathrooms so our days of relying solely on Port-a-Potties are nearing an end.

We also have 4 buildings that will be undergoing restoration work this year;

- The Car Shops building: Will receive new windows, doors, floor repair, lighting, Heat and Air Conditioning (HVAC). This building will be a Railroad Marketing Display Hall as well as useable as rental space for parties, business get-togethers, or other events.

- Engineers Tool Shed – After it’s restoration and the addition of electrical power, lighting and adding HVAC this building will act as our permeant visitor entrance and Information center.

- Sand Drying House – This building will get a full blown rework of walls, roof, interior, electrical, HVAC, lighting, doors and windows. This building will be converted into a multi-media display hall where we can show slideshows and short movies of the history of the railroads in the upper Midwest and it will also be able to be used as rental space for business meetings and small weddings.

- South End Water Closet – this building will be restored and re-purposed to be used for storage.

All of the construction is slated to begin this Spring and be complete by Mid-October. We will remain open during the construction, but some areas may not be accessible during the work phases of these buildings.

 Also, a new and very exciting addition that we have to show off is our new Grand Scale Train. Designed to operate on 15” wide tracks this 3” scale train will soon be providing transportation as a people mover around the museum complex. Fundraising is currently underway to purchase 1.5 miles of track, screws, bolts, ties, brackets and ballast so we can get started with laying the track to get this train running. The train will run around inside the fenced in area of the railyard complex and there will be 3 station stops to help people get around the complex easier and have more fun. The stops will be at the main gate (Engineers Tool Shed), in-between the Machine/Blacksmith shop and the Roundhouse, and near the Sand Drying House and Railroad Civil Engineering Display Hall (model railroads). The actual train is currently on display in between Bay 2 & 3 of the roundhouse for you to see. The total consist will have an F7 replica diesel locomotive and two passenger coaches (one of which will be ADA capable to handle a couple wheel chairs) and one passenger observation coach.  Currently the engine and one coach are on hand. The other ADA coach and the observation coach will be picked up in the near future. The passenger train is painted up to look like the old Milwaukee Hiawatha trains that once serviced Sioux City.

New Admission Rates for 2015: 

Daily Single Person  $5  
Daily Family Pass     $10  (up to 2 Adults and their dependent children – or - 2 Grandparents and
                                             up to 4 grand kids)

Friends of the Railroad Museum Annual Pass:           Single $25           Family $50
Annual Pass Includes: Free admission for one year from date of purchase, newsletters, Friends only special event invitations, 10% discount on all gift shop items, and a copy of the Milwaukee Railroad Shops Walking Tour Book. This Pass is Non-transferable.

 New for 2015 - One free motor car ride for each guest is included in the Daily Admission price. Additional motor car rides can be purchased for $1 each. Also included is one copy of the Milwaukee Railroad Shops Walking Tour Book per Single Admission or Family Admission.


Season Grand Opening– Sat. Feb 28th 10am – 4 pm & Sun. Mar 1st Noon – 4 pm
Touch a Truck or Train Day – Sat May 9th  10 am – 4 pm – Normal Daily Admission Rates Apply

Come explore some of the coolest big vehicles in the area. We will have fire trucks, ambulances, Police vehicles, construction equipment, Military vehicles and more. Sit in the seats and blow the horns or turn on the sirens. Climb into the cab of our steam locomotive Great Northern #1355, Old Ironhorse, and pretend you are the engineer or fireman and ring the bell. Come inside our 45 ton switcher diesel locomotive and feel it running underneath your feet, then ring the bell and blow the horn. Lots of great photo opportunities so bring the camera. This is a huge hit with kids of all ages.

Ag Rail Heritage FestivalCanceled this year due to building restoration construction.

 Halloween at the Roundhouse – Sat. Oct 24th and Sat Oct. 31st     10 am – 4 pm.

This has become the communities must attend and best family event of the year. Last year we had over 12,000 visitors attend this event. Come in costume or not but come to have fun. Trick or treating, motor car rides, scavenger hunt, apple/pumpkin slingshots, screaming contest, coloring contest, haunted diner car, Hobo ghosts, witches, goblins, ghouls and more!

Santa’s Whistle Stop Tour – Sat. Dec 5th and Sat Dec 12th  Noon-4pm  Santa arrives at 12:30 and departs at 3:45 – ADMISSION: FREEWILL DONATION

Come see Santa at the roundhouse! Santa will arrive via caboose at 12:30 and leave at 3:45. Trains and Christmas are a natural holiday coupling. Bring out the kids to see and talk to Santa and get your pictures taken. Santa will bring a special guest with him also. The Conductor from the North Poles world famous train The Polar Express will also arrive with Santa and will do special story book readings of the Polar Express. Dress warm and take a nice winter time motor car ride, it's our version of a Christmas time horse and sleigh ride. Bundle up and get into a big family cuddle as this is the perfect winter time family event you've been waiting for!

 This is going to be an exciting year, we can't wait to see you!

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Railroad Museum, Sioux City will be Participating in Upcoming Model Railroad Shows

The Railroad Museum, Sioux City rail yard complex may be closed to the public until March 1st, but it doesn't mean we are not actively working. As a matter of fact we will be taking the show on the road, so to speak, and will be participating in two upcoming regional model train shows.  We will have a large number of gift shop items for sale, single and family annual membership passes will be available (this is a VERY cost effective way to visit us multiple time throughout the year), and information and videos to watch and learn about this wonderful historic railway complex.  Please stop by our tables and visit with us we'd love to talk with you and answer any questions that you may have.

Saturday & Sunday
January 24th & 25th
10 am - 4 pm both days
Mid America Center
Council Bluffs, Iowa

Saturday & Sunday
Feburary 28th and March 1st
10 am - 4 pm both days
Sponsored by the Sioux City Cosmopolitian Club
Sgt Bluff Community Center
Sgt. Bluff, Iowa

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Santa's Final Whistle Stop Tour is This Saturday, Dec. 20th

If you have missed your visit with Santa this year or forgot to tell him earlier about that little extra someting you may be hoping for. You have one more chance to visit with him this Satuday Dec 20th. Santa will arrive via a 1913 built wood caboose pulled by a 1943 built diesel locomotive at 12:30 PM and he will depart just 3 hours later at 3:30 PM the same way he arived via the 101 year old wood caboose. Admission to the Railroad museum is free for this special event.

What is there to do? Take a look.

Car Shops building: Visit Santa and have your picture taken with him. If you don't have a camera we have a photograher that will take your picture and print it out on the spot for only $5.00. Also, we have kids activities for the kids to make popcile stick Christmas tree ornaments and Santa's Elf's construction paper hats. There is also our volunteers sponsored Bake Sale. 100% of the money raised at the bake sale goes into our Building fund to continue the restoration efforts of this 1917 built railroad locomotive and railcar repair facility. Just outside of the Car Shops building is one our friends selling funnel cakes, hot dogs and other hot tasty treats.

Civil Engineering Display Hall - While we are still working on the design and building of our railroad Civil Engineering displays it doesn't mean the building is not busy. We have 3 operating model railroads in O, HO, and N scale that are in varoius stages of completion for you to enjoy and discuss with our volunteers. Maybe you can take home some tips on how to build your own railroad empire at home.

Outdoor Stage - Here you can take your picture with some Christmas settings or go around back and throw snowballs at some snowmen.

The Roundhouse - Explore Sioux Cities pride and joy Great Northern (GN) Railway steam locomotive #1355. Take a tour of the cab and ring the bell on this beautiful locomotive from the romantic rail travel days of the past. This is the sole surviving locomotive of the Class H-5  steam locomotives of the GN. It is also historically signicant to the industrial history of the United States. It is listed on the National Register of Historic places. You can also visit the gift shop for the rail fan in your life. And of special note; have a seat in the orange Milwuakee Road caboose sitting in Bay 3 at 1:00, 2:00, or 3:00 for your own personnal reading of the book the Polar Express by none other than the train conductor from the Polar Express itself!  Do you believe?

Are you getiing tired of walking? You can take a free ride on our hay rack ride and see the railyard or try out our motor car winter express ride for only $1.00 each. This 10 minute ride is our version of a good old fashioned horse and sleigh ride (without the horse and sleigh). It's a great way to have fun, and get a geat big family cuddle going to stay warm.

This is a lot of fun for the entire family. We have had 1,700 visitors so far the past 2 Saturadays so don't miss out!

WEATHER ADVISORY:  Many of the buildings are still under restoration  and some have little to no heat in them so please dress appropriatley for the outside weather conditons.

Monday, December 1, 2014


Here are some pictures from last years visit. We are excited to see you.
 Santa and the Polar Express Conductor are waiving at the cars
passing by on Iowa Hwy 12 as they approach the Railroad
Museum's roundhouse complex located on the north end
of the Riverside neighborhood in Sioux City, Iowa

 A crowd of visitors greet Santa and the Polar Express Conductor
as the arrive at the Milwaukee Railroad Shops Historict District
roundhouse located at the Railroad Museum, Sioux City, Iowa 
 The Polar Express Conductor reading from the book The Polar Express
to a bunch of eager listeners both young AND young at heart.
Our 1943 General Electric diesel engine and 1913 Northern Pacific
wood caboose are all decked out in Christmas cheer awaiting
the arrival of Santa and the Polar Express Conductor.
 Santa waiting for the girls and boys to file in and have a talk.

Excited and eager childern are axiously waiting in line to see Santa.
Most of the buildings have little or no heat so please dress
appropiately for the weather of the day. 

Our wonderful volunteers have been baking their fingers off to help
save you a little time this holiday season. Stop by the Bake Sale tables
and pick up some holiday goodness for your family or business get togethers.
100% of the money raised goes directly into the building fund to continue our
restoration efforts of these railway shop buildings that were originally built in 1917.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Halloween at the Roundhouse is now two Saturdays long!

Save the date(s) it's almost here! The best, free, Fall family event in Siouxland is now on two Saturdays and is 6 hours long each day.  We can't wait to see you! Spread the word!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Touch a Truck or Train Event is this Saturday Oct. 4th

The first annual Touch-a-Truck-or-Train community event will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., this Saturday, October 4, in the rail yard of the Milwaukee R...ailroad Shops Historic District in Sioux City.

General admission to the event is $10 per family. Bring the entire family out and enjoy sitting in these trucks, trains and vehicles; learning about what they do, how they work, and how they benefit our community.

Name a child who wouldn’t love to climb aboard a fire truck, big rig, or train engine! Touch-a-Truck or Train provides a unique opportunity for children to explore vehicles of all types – public service, emergency, utility, construction, military, railroad transportation, delivery, and just plain cool – all in one place.

The Milwaukee Railroad Shops Historic District, home of the community’s landmark Ironhorse steam locomotive, will be celebrating Touch-a-Truck-or-Train with railroad demonstrations, helicopter landing and takeoff, and the exhibition of transportation-related vehicles. This mini transportation expo will allow kids and adults to sit inside, touch, and learn all about vehicles and train equipment they usually don’t have the opportunity to be up close with. Vehicle drivers and operators will be on hand to educate the public about their vehicles and its importance to the world of work.

Event vehicles will vary from a semi-tractor rig to diesel railroad locomotive. There will be a large tow truck displayed by Meier Towing, a semi-tractor rig exhibited by I State Freightliner, a police car demonstrated by the Sioux City Police Department, and a Fire Truck shown by Sioux City Fire Rescue. Other Siouxland businesses and agencies will have a variety of vehicles on hand for kids and adults to explore, including the Mercy Air Care Helicopter, a Siouxland Paramedics Ambulance, and military vehicles from the Army Reserve. Travel Plus Limousine will exhibit their Trolley Bus and a limousine, and GCC Ready Mix will display a cement mixer.

Railroad equipment displays will include the outdoor exhibition of Sioux City’s Landmark Steam Locomotive, a restored wood Northern Pacific Caboose, a railroad center cab diesel locomotive, and the 400 truck used by railroads in the repair of rail cars.

During the event, there will be two railroad demonstrations involving the switching and movement of equipment. At 10 a.m., the Railroad Museum will pull the steam locomotive and wood caboose out of the roundhouse and position the historic equipment for outdoor exhibition. At 3:15 p.m., the equipment will be returned to the roundhouse. During both movements, there will be a turntable demonstration.

Touch-a-Truck-or-Train is a community event that allows families to take photos near railroad equipment and other transportation vehicles in a safe environment. Families and amateur photographers are welcomed to Bring Your Own Digital Device to pose and photograph family members near the train, truck or vehicle displays. This unique opportunity will allow parents and grandparents to dress children in railroad attire and pose them next to Sioux City’s landmark steam locomotive and other railroad equipment in an outdoor setting; using the sun and the backdrop of the historic buildings, rail yard, train displays, and the Loess Hills Bluffs to help frame your photos.

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.

Touch-a-Truck-or-Train Event Schedule

10:00 a.m. Railroad Switching and Shunting Demonstration – pulling out of steam locomotive and wood caboose from roundhouse building

1:00 p.m. Landing of Mercy Air Care Helicopter – exhibited until 2:30 p.m.

2:30 p.m. Take off of Mercy Air Care Helicopter

1:00 p.m. Arrival of Fire Truck and Military Vehicles – exhibit until 3:00 p.m.

3:15 p.m. Railroad Switching and Shunting Demonstration – returning of steam locomotive and wood caboose inside the roundhouse building