Monday, August 24, 2015

The Railroad Museum Biggest Construction Phase Kicks Off




 
The Railroad Museum in Sioux City, IA is beginning to embark on its busiest and most comprehensive phase of construction in 20 years of recovery, restoration, and repurposing work of the Milwaukee Railroad Shops Historic District and the volunteers and staff couldn’t be more excited. After years of painstaking fundraising, historical research, archeology studies, engineering, and more fundraising. The next major milestone is now underway. The amount of construction that will be happening will only be rivaled by the original construction of this historic complex 98 years ago back in 1917.  Here’s a brief overview of what is going to be happening over the next few months. Of note, we DO intended to keep the museum complex open as much as possible during the construction although some areas may be blocked off from time to time to accommodate the construction.
Back in March we had our new permanent restroom facilities installed just south of the machine/blacksmith shop building. Now, we are having the water, sewer and electrical installed and if everything comes together properly they may be up and running for our annual Halloween at the Roundhouse event the last two Saturdays of October.  Along with this, we are also having water lines run to two new fire hydrants and the Railroad Civil Engineering Display building that houses our operating model railroads.

We will also have restoration work proceeding on four of the original shop buildings at the same time. This work will allow us to lift the Red Tags off of these building and allow us to begin a serious effort to fill them with top notch exhibits, interpretations, and interactive displays.  What buildings are going to be worked on and what is going to be done to them you ask? Here’s a brief overview of the planned construction.

- The Car Shops building – This former wood shop and office building will receive new windows, doors, floor repair, lighting, and Heat and Air Conditioning (HVAC). This building will be repurposed as our new Railroad Marketing and Advertising Display building and will feature permanent and rotating exhibits of the efforts, advertising tools, and multiple media formats that the railroads used to sell their product to the public.  It will also have a secondary function as well as being able to be used as rental space for parties, business get-togethers, or other events.

- Engineers Tool Shed – After its interior and exterior 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 the 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.

After the trenches are dug and filled back in for the water and sewer lines and the heavy construction equipment is no longer driving over the grounds and all the ruts have been smoothed out. Then we can begin working on laying out the roadbed and the mile and a half loop for our new Grand Scale Train which is sure to be a huge hit with all our visitors when completed.

This exciting new addition will operate on 15” wide tracks. This 3” scale train will provide
transportation as a people mover around the museum complex. We are currently working on closing a funding gap that arose during our development phase. 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 (Gilchrist Station), near the Machine/Blacksmith shop and the Roundhouse, and near the Sand Drying House and Railroad Civil Engineering Display building (model railroads). 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.  The passenger train is painted to look like the old Milwaukee Road passenger train called The Arrow that once served Sioux City.

If you would like to help us share the cost of these exciting upgrades and additions as we continue to grow this wonderful family entertainment complex your donations would be most graciously accepted. We are a 501c(3) non-profit private organization so all donations toward this project are tax deductible. If you may be considering a more sizeable donation to help us improve the quality of life in the Sioux City area by providing quality family oriented entertainment, naming rights for certain areas and buildings are also available. Please contact Matt Merk, Executive Director or Tom Obermeyer, Deputy Director at the Railroad Museum for more information regarding these opportunities.

Thank you all for your continued support, we could never make this happen with out you.

Friday, July 10, 2015

NEW RIDE THE RAILS PROGRAM PUT'S YOU IN THE ENGINEERS SEAT

The Railroad Museum in Sioux City is offering a new Ride the Rails Program that can not only provide you with a ride in the cab of our 1943 General Electric 45 ton switcher locomotive, but it could land you in the engineers seat with you actually operating the locomotive yourself. This is a rare opportunity for rail fans and visitors alike to actually drive a diesel locomotive.

During each hour long session the participants will be given basic instruction by our trained engineers while looking over the locomotive and learning how it works. Then it’s time to climb into the engineer’s seat and take the locomotive for a spin. In addition, each engineer participant will also receive an engineer’s cap and a certificate of accomplishment to serve as reminder of this unique experience that can be shared with friends and family for years to come.

Up to four people may share each of the hour long time slots. In order to operate the locomotive you must be 18 years old or older, however, any people younger may ride along with an adult.

The cost of this unique experience is $50 per engineer and $10 per passenger. This cost will help cover fuel and train crew costs. The program will run from 10 AM through 3 PM on Saturday, August 1st and Saturday, August 15th. Additional times and dates may be added later and an update will be posted if those additions occur.

Reservations are required in advance and are on a first come first serve basis. The locomotive will continue to operate unless severe weather approaches.

Please contact the Railroad Museum, Sioux City at (712) 233-6996 to make your reservation or for answers to any additional questions that you may have.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Touch A Truck or Train Day - Sat. May 9th from 10 am - 3 pm

If you came out to our first Touch A Truck or Train Day event last fall you know how much fun it is. The event we have planned for May 9th is going to be bigger and better yet. The word got out to the local companies around town about how much fun it was and we have had many more request to be a part of this wonderful event this year so we will have many more vehicles to crawl through, honk the horns, blow the sirens, and explore than last year.

What can you expect to see? Construction vehicles, trucks, cranes, Fire, Ambulance and Police Department vehiles, military vehicles, 75-100 antique cars, and even remote control airplanes! Providing there are no emergencies the Mercy Air Care helicopter is scheduled to fly in and make an appearance. A food vendor will also be on-site so you can take a break have lunch and be refueled for a full afternoon of adventure. If this will be your first visit to the Railroad Museum don't forget to check out Sioux Cities very own steam locomotive Great Northern #1355 that you will be able to explore, the spectaular 75' x 16' Nebraska Centeral HO Scale operating model railroad, take a family ride on the motor car, and explore the rest of the buildings, railroad equipment, and displays on this 30 acre historical complex.

How much is all this fun going to cost you? $5 for individuals or ONLY $10 for your family. Wow! You can't beat that for some great family bonding time, fun and adventure.

Here are a couple pictures from last falls event.  Save the date: Sat. May 9th from 10 am - 3 pm

You are not going to want to miss this great family treat!






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 shra@cableone.net.
     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.

2015 UPCOMING EVENTS

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.
ADMISSION: FREEWILL DONATION

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.







THE GREAT TRAIN SHOW
Saturday & Sunday
January 24th & 25th
10 am - 4 pm both days
Mid America Center
Council Bluffs, Iowa
http://www.greattrainexpo.com/shows/2015CouncilBluffs.html


SIOUX CITY TRAIN SHOW
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.