This complex was originally built in 1917 by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railway Company, more commonly known as The Milwaukee Road. It was the 2nd largest shop complex in the Milwaukee's system behind their home shops in Milwaukee, WI. The site originally encompassed over 50 acres of land and incorporated over 25 buildings to include a 30 stall roundhouse, machine/blacksmith shop, car/carpenter shop, steam power plant, water softener plant, stores warehouse, sand drying house and two wooden sand towers, a 300 ton capacity wood coal tower and more. The complex also included over 10 miles of track and employed over 500 people. The typical work accomplished at these shops is highlighted by an article from the Sioux City Journal providing a year end production report on the Milwaukee Railroad Shops for 1948.
6,317 freight cars repaired
8,316 steam locomotives serviced and repaired
561 people employed with an annual salary of over $2.1 million
6,541 freight trains for an average of 18 per day
4,380 passenger trains for an average of 12 per day
The complex was finally closed in 1981 when the railroad went bankrupt. The complex only employed 2 people when the doors were shut for the last time.
Over the following years the complex was converted into a salvage yard and all the buildings fell into disrepair. In 1995 the City of Sioux City awarded the Siouxland Historical Railroad Association a grant to purchase the complex and clean-up/restoration work has been on going ever since on the 31.5 acre grounds and its six remaining buildings.
Today we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Through federal, state, and local grants and donations from business's and visitors the past few years have seen unprecedented building and grounds restoration. Thousands of people every year come to see HISTORY UNDER RECONSTRUCTION at the Milwaukee Railroad Historic Shops.
Along with the rolling stock, railroad memorabilia, and other related items we currently have on display the future is bright and shiny. Two of our future exhibits will include displays and work stations that are being designed to teach our young how much fun, awe inspiring and rewarding science, math, and engineering can be. While capitalizing on the early 1900's atmosphere created by the buildings and display equipment we intend to place a unique focus on the railroad employees and the often misunderstood and unknown jobs they performed to keep the railroad operating. These strong, smart, dedicated, impressive individuals were the cog in the wheel that allowed the United States to grow. Through state-of-the-art interactive activities and programs young and old alike will not be able to leave their visit without accidentally learning something and have a big smile on their face and hopefully a little extra bounce in their step. So what are you waiting for? Come on! We're making tracks to the future! Relive history; get up close and personal with everybody's favorite pastime - TRAINS!