railroading is known for flat, open countryside and farmland as far as
the eye can see. Historically, the state was once home to many of the
famed "granger" railroads like the Chicago Great Western, Milwaukee
Road, and Chicago & North Western which looked to tap Iowa's
agricultural resources. The Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad uses a
former stretch of original C&NW tracks to take visitors on a very
nice excursion that features high trestles, rolling farmland, and along
rivers. They also offer guests a wide range of riding options from
dinner trains to holiday specials. If you have the opportunity I would
definitely recommend stopping to visit either of these railroads, two
very nice operations located in a state not really thought to have much
in the way of train rides.
Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad
The Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad, based in Boone, Iowa, is actually a museum as well as an operating tourist railroad. The B&SV operates on former Chicago & North Western trackage (it was originally an interurban/trolley line) and today its trains are pulled by both steam and diesel locomotives, as well as restored trolley car #50 (they also have a very extensive collection of non-operating locomotives and cars). Lastly, the museum also hosts several special trains and events throughout the season like "A Day Out With Thomas" the tank engine.
Delmar Depot Railroad & Military Museum
This museum, located in the restored Milwaukee Road depot features both a veteran's memorial as well as artifacts and displays related to the town's railroad history.
This interesting museum, located in South Britt, offers a glimpse at the unique life of hobo. They feature a collection of displays and artifacts related to such. The museum is normally open during the summer each year.
Iowa Trolley Park
This organization, based in Clear Lake, is home to the town's restored Milwaukee Road depot and offers rides using their operational 25-ton Plymouth diesel locomotive. They also feature a collection of rolling stock and Mason City & Clear Lake trailer car #27.
Midwest Central Railroad
Midwest Central Railroad, based in Mt. Pleasant is note quite as large
as the Boone & Scenic Valley. However, it offers a unique
collection of operating locomotives including 3-truck Shay #9 (a former
West Side Lumber steamer), Baldwin #6 (a small 4-4-0 American), Baldwin
#2 (a 2-6-0 Mogul currently being completely rebuilt), a German-built
0-4-0 steame, and two small diesel locomotive switchers. The railroad
only operates on a 1 1/4-mile of trackage but its large collection of
operating steam locomotives makes it a large draw to visitors every
year. The Midwest Central also hosts a number of special events
throughout the season.
RailsWest Railroad Museum
This museum is based in the Rock Island's restored depot in Council Bluffs, open during select days throughout the year and are closed during January. They feature historic displays and operate a model railroad inside.
This organization, located in Colfax, operates a large, expansive O-scale layout. They are open April through October by appointment only.
Trains On The Farm
This museum is based in Clarksville and looks to keep alive the history of the railroads which served the area; Chicago Great Western, Rock Island, and Iowa Northern. They feature the area's preserved CGW depot, historic displays and artifacts, and also have a small operating model layout to see.
Union Pacific Railroad Museum
The Union Pacific's official museum is located in Council Bluffs and offers a fabulous collection of displays related to the railroad and its long history. There is currently on admission fee and the facility is open on select days of the week, year-round. To learn more about this popular attraction please visit the museum's official website.
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