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.