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Mt. Pleasant, Iowa:
Midwest Electric Railway Museum

Description

The Midwest Electric Railway Museum operates on the grounds of the Midwest Old Threshers Reunion, an annual agricultural heritage festival that takes place during the five days ending with Labor Day. It provides transportation on a loop about one mile long, which connects the main exhibition area with a smaller exhibition area called the Log Village, and a campground where many of the Reunion's visitors stay. Besides the Reunion and the few days preceding it, the museum does not have regular public operating hours, as far as I know. It does operate on some special events, and charter excursions can be arranged.

See also the Midwest Central Railroad, which operates narrow-gauge steam-powered trains around a separate loop on the Reunion grounds.

Pictures

On the day of my visit (Sunday, 3 September 2006), five cars were running simultaneously around the loop, at an average headway of 2 to 2.5 minutes. Unfortunately, the weather was rather dreary, with a heavy overcast and spells of rain throughout the day. Nevertheless, it was a fascinating experience. The five cars that were operating are presented below.

Cars 1718 and 1779 (Rio de Janeiro)

These two open-bench cars were built in 1911 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and ran there until 1967. They definitely looked out of place in the cool rainy weather!

[picture] #1718 pulls out of the arrival platform at the depot, with #381 about to pull in after it.

[picture] #1779 receives a few passengers at the depot's departure platform. Traffic is rather light at the moment, probably because of a downpour which has just let up.

[picture] #1718 crosses a road in the campground and approaches some waiting passengers.

[picture] #1779 climbs the hill back to the depot (located a short distance behind the barn), surrounded by campers and RVs in the campground.

Car 381 (Waterloo, Cedar Falls & Northern Railway)

This car was built in 1930 by Perley Thomas for Knoxville, Tennessee. It was the last streetcar to run in in public service in Iowa, in 1958, on the Waterloo - Cedar Falls branch of the WCF&N.

[picture] #381 poses for a photographer at the depot.

[picture] At the Log Village stop, with the Log Village in the background.

[picture] #381 rolls northward through the campground on its way back to the depot.

[picture] A broadside view of #381 at the carbarn, with the signal tower to the right.

Car 320 (Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Railroad)

This wooden interurban coach was built in 1914 by the Jewett Car Company. It ran between Chicago and its western suburbs until 1957.

[picture] #320 passes the signal tower as it arrives at the carbarn stop.

[picture] Passengers leave #320 in the rain at the Log Village stop.

[picture] #320 crosses a road in the campground.

[picture] The interior of #320 is more like an old-fashioned railroad coach than a utilitarian streetcar.

Car 1945 (Milan, Italy)

This "Peter Witt" type car from Milan, Italy was built in 1927.

[picture] At the Log Village, passengers stream off #1945 (a process facilitated by the three large doors) at the arrival platform while others wait to board at the departure platform.

[picture] #1945 passes a pond shortly after leaving the Log Village.

[picture] Rear view of #1945 starting up the hill from the campground back to the depot.

[picture] Interior of #1945.

Other Cars

These cars weren't running, but were visible near or inside the carbarn.

[picture] Car 9 is a wooden combination passenger and freight car, built in 1909 for the Albia Interurban Railway. This line became one of the last electric interurban lines in Iowa, the Southern Iowa Railway, which survived as a freight carrier until 1967.

[picture] Car 1100 is a motorized flat car from the electric railroad that once ran on the Keokuk Dam on the Mississippi River. The museum added the cab.

[picture] #9 and #1100 in front of the carbarn while #1779 passes by.

[picture] Inside the carbarn is car 3279, a line car (for working on the overhead wire) from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in Boston.

Other Sites

Acknowledgements

This visit to the Midwest Old Threshers Reunion and the Midwest Electric Railway Museum was part of a tour organized by the Cincinnati Railfans Club and Peter Ehrlich. I am very grateful to them for the opportunity to participate.


This page was last updated on 22 May 2007, and reviewed on 24 January 2008.


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