Charles City Depot to be open for public viewing Saturday

A group hoping to save the Charles City train depot will sponsor a public viewing of the interior of the building this Saturday. Press photo by Bob Steenson
A group hoping to save the Charles City train depot will sponsor a public viewing of the interior of the building this Saturday. Press photo by Bob Steenson
To The Press

A group looking to save the old Charles City Railroad Depot from the wrecking ball has arranged to have the historic structure open for public viewing from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3.  

The Charles City depot was built in 1912 as the front entrance to the city at a time when most people traveled by train. The depot was served by a passenger train operated by the Milwaukee Road Railroad, from Chicago to Sioux City and Rapid City, S.D.

The train, named “The Sioux,” provided a daily overnight connection to and from Chicago.

Inside, the depot looks like it has been in a time warp. It appears much as it did when the last passenger train departed Charles City in 1960, and this may be a one-time opportunity to see the inside of this community landmark.

A non-profit organization known as the American Passenger Train History Museum is working to gather financial support to save the depot and move it a block and a half south to property the group owns at 11th and Grand. The group is dedicated to the preservation and display of historic American passenger trains from railroading’s golden age.

“The railroad wants the depot moved by next summer or they plan to demolish it,” said museum President Robert Moen. “We were able to convince the railroad to open up the building for the public. We felt that people really needed to see what they were being asked to donate money for.

“We encourage everyone to come out to see the building. We will be available to answer questions and take pledges or donations.”

The museum has researched the cost of moving the building, excavation and installing a new foundation and determined that the cost will be around $300,000. The movers have reported that the building is in very good structural condition, with a newer roof, but will need to replace the basics: HVAC, electrical and plumbing.

Moen said they have also found that there are almost no grants for moving, but many grants for restoration once it is moved.

“We have an opportunity to save an important piece of Charles City history,” Moen said.

Donations will be used for moving the depot and establishing the museum. All donations would be tax deductable since the museum is a non-profit Iowa corporation, with 501c3 tax status with the IRS. Donations can be made in person at First Security Bank to the “Save the depot fund” or by mail made out to The American Passenger Train History Museum, Box 683, Charles City, IA 50616.

Representatives from the American Passenger Train History Museum group are available to speak to community clubs and organizations about their plans.

To arrange for a speaker for your group, contact Robert Moen at 612-240-4407 or robertmoen@comcast.net.

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