Union Pacific Railroad Museum
• 200 Pearl St, Council Bluffs, Iowa
• Hours: Tuesday through Saturday
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Closed Sundays & Mondays
• Stroller & handicap friendly – ramps & elevators available
This isn’t the first location of the Union Pacific Railroad Museum. It used to be located in Omaha at UP’s headquarters building. The museum was founded in 1921 after the discovery of some silver serving pieces from President Abraham Lincoln’s funeral car. There are now a LOT more pieces in their collection that showcase the history of the Union Pacific Railroad from 1862 until now. The museum opened at this new location, the former Council Bluffs Free Public Library, in 2003.
The bathrooms were on the first level (basement) as you go into the museum. There was an elevator available or you could take the numerous stairs.
We saw an exhibit titled “Dining in Railroad Style” that showed what dining aboard a Streamliner was like. The kids wrote and decorated their own circus-themed children’s menu to take home. There was a real dining car chime that explained what the call for dinner sounded like and you could try to make the same sound yourself. My kids were more partial to playing it like a regular xylophone.
There was a huge section on building the transcontinental railroad – including one of the spikes from Utah! On the top floor, there were various safety and other railroad equipment exhibits. In one corner was a locomotive simulator where kids could supposedly sit in the engineer’s seat to control the route. (Mine were a bit disappointed that it didn’t turn the way they were turning it and didn’t stop when they pushed the brake.)
Also, just for Railroad Days, there was an incredible 20+ foot layout of N-track model trains. My kids were fascinated – and there wasn’t enough room for them to rope it off, so I spent most of my time keeping the children from touching! It was the closest they got to the model trains that were exhibited at the different locations as part of Railroad Days. Sorry, I don’t have a picture!
There are many photos available of the museum, but I thought it best just to include a link to the archival photos.
There is a lot more to this museum than what I’ve listed. The kids were not overly interested in most of the in depth things. We only spent about an hour here and you could easily spend several and not read (or, in some cases, hear) all of the exhibits. This was the only regularly “free” stop as part of Railroad Days. Not my first preference for a field trip, but we might head back when we are studying this time period in U.S. history.
This post was submitted by a guest blogger who regularly writes for Learning As I Go.