11 Abandoned Train Depots In Iowa That Will Take You Straight To The Past
The Railroad helped build the American West, and Iowa was an important stop on the way from East Coast to West Coast. Not only did travelers come through Iowa in droves, but our agricultural industry was able to grow tremendously with a new way to ship crops, meats and products, helping the Hawkeye State be one that truly fed the nation. However, in modern times, rail travel has significantly died off, and only a few major tracks still run through Iowa. Many of the former stations have stayed standing, and these abandoned train depots in Iowa will take you back in time to when trains were at the center of many lives.
1. Rock Island Station, Council Bluffs
This station in Council Bluffs was built in 1899! It was part of the Rock Island Line between Ottawa, Illinois and Iowa City, and today it holds a model train museum. You can read more about the RailWest Railroad Museum
2. Vinton Depot
Vinton's railroad depot was built in 1900, and helped the Iowa Canning Company, Vinton Produce Company, and Vinton Steel Works grow to be local industry leaders. Now, visitors can track down the decommissioned depot to see artifacts and memorabilia, including an original telegraph agent's office. The Vinton Depot is open June through September on Thursday evenings from 5 pm to 7 pm.
3. Webster City Station
This former Illinois Central Station was restored and relocated to Wilson Brewer Historic Park in Webster City. The 1900s-era building is now a railway museum.
5. Belle Plaine
The Belle Plaine station was built by Chicago & Northwestern and completed in 1894. Now, the towering brick building seems almost haunted, as it is completely abandoned by the side of the track.
The Chariton Station lies abandoned next to overgrown tracks. This station was once and important stop on the Union Pacific's "Spine Line".
7. Des Moines East Union Depot
The Des Moines East Union Depot was built 109 years ago, and was one of the most active stations in its heyday. It was purchased by a local preservation group in 2017, and they plan to restore it and create a museum.
8. Amana Depot
The important Amana depot helped connect these rural colonies with the outside world, and brought much to the towns in the way of technology, communication, and goods. Now, the station lies in a grass field where the tracks were removed.
9. Marquette Station
10. Independence Central Station
This is one of the oldest train depots still around! It was built in 1892 and now it is home to a railroad museum and the Buchanan County Tourism Visitor Center. You can tour a 1978 vintage caboose and see a 1926 steam locomotive. The museum is open May 15 through October 15, Tuesday through Sunday from 12pm to 4pm
11. Keokuk Union Depot
Keokuk Union Depot is one of the most famous abandoned depots in the state. It was built from 1890-1891, and ran as a passenger line until 1967. It remained an active Agent and Operator's headquarters until the 1980s, when it was turned into the station for a tourist and scenic railway line. In 1996, it was turned over to Pioneer for storage, and in 2011, it was given to the City of Keokuk on a 99-year lease. Now, it's a museum, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Of course, these are just the most notable of Iowa’s abandoned train depots. Anyone who’s driven through the Hawkeye State can attest that there are many more lining the highways as you explore all of our counties. Which one is your favorite to see?
If you can’t get enough of Iowa history, check out
The Oldest Place You Can Possibly Go In Iowa – Its History Will Fascinate You!
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