The Milwaukee Railroad Shops Historic District

The Milwaukee Railroad Shops Historic District


Railroad Museum - Mini Tour


(Sioux City, IA) – The Iowa State Historic Preservation Office has announced that the National Park Service recently approved the Milwaukee Railroad Shops in Sioux City as a federally-designated Historic District by listing it to the National Register of Historic Places.

The National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official directory of cultural and historical resources worthy of preservation. The nomination was sponsored by the Siouxland Historical Railroad Association, and the nomination materials and documentation were prepared by Larry Obermeyer in consultation with the State Historic Preservation Office and the Cultural Resources Office – Iowa Department of Transportation. Over 7,000 hours of historical research, narrative writing, and editing were invested in the preparation of the nomination.

The National Register designation promotes the authenticity of the Milwaukee Railroad Shops Historic District by celebrating the historic character of the site and recognizes that the former railroad repairs shops terminal is of historical significance to the nation, the state of Iowa, and the local community.

Recognized for its historic significance in the focus areas of railroad transportation, industry, and engineering, the 30-acre site was built between 1916-1918 by the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad Company to house their roundhouse, locomotive, and car repair shops, and steam engine terminal for their rail networks in Iowa and the Dakotas.

In its heyday, the Sioux City Roundhouse, Repair Shops, and Engine Terminal employed over 585 shopmen and railroad workers, who toiled in the repair shops overhauling 35 steam locomotives a day, servicing over 70 trains a day, and maintaining tens of thousands of rail cars annually.

Over its lifespan, the railroad repair shops endured a precarious journey in its survival to serve as the campus for the Sioux City Railroad Museum. During the 1950s the site was downsized with many buildings and structures razed to repurpose the repair shops for diesel locomotives. The site was sold to a local businessman in 1981 for conversion to a farm machinery salvage yard operation after the railroad company embargoed much of its western lines as a result of a bankruptcy. The site became home to the Sioux City Railroad Museum in 1995 when the Siouxland Historical Railroad Association purchased the complex with the aid of a grant from the City of Sioux City and began working on a two-decade historic preservation effort to transform the site.

The National Register of Historic Places designation recognizes the unrivaled historic, architectural and cultural significance of the 30-acre site. Among the 41 prominent historical resources that form the Milwaukee Railroad Shops Historic District are 6 historic buildings, 16 industrial archaeological sites, 6 historic structures, 13 industrial heritage objects, and a rail yard.

Leave a Reply