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Travels in the Heartland: Climb aboard Railroad Days in Council Bluffs Sept. 24

Presidential history and westward expansion are big part of the experience
Steam engine at Rails West Railroad Museum.jpg
Presidential car desgned for President Lincoln.jpg
Replica of the hotel where leaders met to plan the railroad.jpg
Explore rail cars, such as a caboose, at Rails West.jpg
Mail time! Aboard the mail car at Rails West.jpg
Passenger car at Rails West.jpg
Passenger car exhibit.jpg
Chinese immigrants were among the people building the railroad.jpg
Clothing worn by Native American scouts along the railroad.jpg
1899 depot at Rails West Museum.jpg
Posted at 5:13 PM, Sep 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-22 18:50:15-04

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (KMTV) — All aboard! Council Bluffs shines as the city celebratesRailroad Days at Mile Zero Sept. 24.

From exploring the Union Pacific Museum to climbing rail cars at Rails West, the city's railroad attractions will be open to the public.

Council Bluffs was once considered for the eastern terminus of the Union Pacific line that ended up in Omaha and Railroad Days includes tours of the Historic General Dodge House, home to the Army officer tasked with implementing President Abraham Lincoln's plans for a transcontinental railroad.

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Railroad Days Council Bluffs: Telegraph office replica at the museum

For the first time, all Railroad Days events will take place in Council Bluffs, following decisions not to participate this year by Durham Museum and Lauritzen Gardens.

Tickets are $10 for groups of two adults and unlimited for children under 18 years old. Additional adult tickets can be purchased for $5. Enjoy free trolley rides between attractions from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Union Pacific Railroad Museum

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Railroad Days Council Bluffs: A look inside the presidential train car

Council Bluffs embraces its rail history. Beginning at theUnion Pacific Railroad Museum, you'll explore two floors of exhibits celebrating the railroad's past — from laying the first rails and expanding westward to vintage years of passenger travel — as well as a look at the daily responsibilities of operating trains.

The museum features replicas of the Council Bluffs hotel where plans were set in motion to create the rail line connecting the western half of the United States. While he died before getting to see the completion of the transcontinental railroad, the presidential car built to take Lincoln to Promontory Point instead was retrofitted to carry his casket home to Springfield Illinois. The train made several stops along the route as cities held memorials for the country's 16th president.

As you visit the passenger car period, 1931-71, check out the various dinnerware patterns used in restaurant cars. You'll also view the uniforms of train employees. A 360-degree theater showcases the history of the railroad's passenger service.

Did you know that train transportation led to the creation of time zones? A visit to the UP museum includes a lot of other fun facts.

Rails West Railroad Museum

Rails West Railroad Museum offers an opportunity to tour rail cars, from a steam engine to a postal car complete with mail bags and letter slots. Children of all ages have fun ringing the train bell. Visit a model train exhibit inside the classic 1899 depot, which also houses several pieces of memorabilia and artifacts.

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Railroad Days Council Bluffs: Dining car at Rails West

Historic General Dodge House

TheHistoric General Dodge House is a 14-room Victorian-era mansion constructed for a cost of $35,000. The three-story home for General Greeneville Dodge and his family was built on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River valley. The mansion includes furniture and accessories from the time the Dodge family lived there.

Hoff Family Arts and Culture Center

New to Railroad Days is theHoff Family Arts and Culture Center Pottawattamie Arts, Culture, and Entertainment (PACE) team members will host interactive rail-themed activities at the Hoff Family Arts & Culture Center, including creating futuristic trains and building trains from nearby items.

While not part of Railroad Days at Mile Zero, visitors to the city can also check out the Golden Spike Monument a 56-foot-tall sculpture built in 1939 to celebrate the premiere of the movie “Union Pacific.” It recognizes the final spike laid on the railroad, completing the transcontinental railroad.

Dinner ideas

After a day of exploring Council Bluffs rail history, consider grabbing a bite to eat at any of the city’s outstandingeateries, such as712 eat and drink,1892 German Bier House and 3rd Base Bar and Grill.