142 years of rail passenger services coast to coast as the transcontinental Central Pacific and Union Pacific railways came together on May 10, 1869, at Promontory Summit, Utah, the "golden spike" was driven into the final tie that joined 1,776 miles.
Join us as Belle Plaine celebrates its rich railroad history.
The town site of Belle Plaine was laid out in 1860. The reason for its existence was the railroad. It reached here during the winter of 1861 – 1862. The town of Belle Plaine became incorporated in 1862. In its first year of operation, the Belle Plaine section of the railroad did amazing business. Shipping tickets preserved in a St Paul MN museum show that it hauled 222,574 barrels of flour, 220,180 bushels of wheat, 5,704,900 feet of lumber, 900 cords of wood, 96, 000 hoop poles and staves, 312 tons of farm products, 951 tons of lime, 7,743 tons of general merchandise, 3,500 tons of construction materials, 45 tons of coal, 150 tons of hides, 140 tons of livestock, 150 tons of bran and shorts, 6 tons of brick, 1 ton of game and 83,315 passengers.
Chicago Northwestern Passenger Division was moved to Belle Plaine from Boone early in 1906.
By 1960 passenger train service to the city had ended.
Belle Plaine was a major stop on the main line and served two branch lines, the branch to What Cheer and the coal fields of Consol Iowa.
Belle Plaine was the division headquarters for the Chicago Northwestern until 1921 when it moved to Boone Iowa. During its prime, the railroad had 600 employees with its operation in Belle Plaine.
Many “famous” people stopped by Belle Plaine due to the railroad. Presidents Coolidge and Eisenhower stopped here during their campaigns and the Garfield Funeral Train passed through as well. Meredith Wilson, the author of the musical “Music Man” passed through the depot when he had a gig in town.
Currently, it is the Union Pacific Railroad that runs through Belle Plaine. It was started on July 1, 1862 under the Pacific RR Act of 1862 and under the guidance of Dr Thomas Clark Durant, of which the town Durant, IA is named. Overall the Union Pacific travels 54, 116 miles of rails by leasing 2nd, 3rd and 4th level tracks from other railroads.
The Union Pacific leases out locomotives to competition which run in the US, Canada and Mexico.
Bring family and friends to celebrate National Train Day!
See Museum's Railway Collection:
Enter raffle for a chance to win a model train
Depot architect, Charles Frost created drawings dated 1894. Charles married Mary Hughitt and his partner Granger married Belle Hughitt daughters of the president of the Chicago Northwestern, Marvin Hughitt. (Currently the Union Pacific runs the rails in Belle Plaine). The construction firm is not known.
In 1913, city water was provided to the “closets” in the depot, closets being the term for outhouses or washrooms. In 1924 these facilities were upgraded with modern sanitary toilets. Lights were installed over the waiting room doors. The depot itself probably had electricity from its inception. (Depots in larger towns had more advanced amenities).
Belle Plaine was a major stop on the main line and served two branch lines, the branch to What Cheer and the coal fields of Consol, IA. This branch went north through Mason City and then to Minnesota.
Frost and Granger designed depots in Clinton, Mt Vernon, Marshalltown, Nevada, Boone and Ames. Merideth Wilson, the author of the musical “Music Man” passed through the depot when he had a “gig” in town. Currently the depot is for sale.
Feb 28, 1867 The Belle Plaine newspaper “The Transcript” says “C & NW will erect a splendid Passenger and Freight Depot building during the coming summer, at the current Belle Plaine station. We do not doubt the truthfulness of the report because the present depot is inadequate to the amount of business done at this point.” This particular depot burned down during the Great Fire of 1894 which also devastated the business district.
In 1864 the first roundhouse was built in Belle Plaine with four stalls along the south side of the tracks between 7th and 8th avenues. In 1869 this site was abandoned and a ten stall roundhouse was built on the current Chelsea Bank site.
In 1884 the roundhouse again was expanded this time to a total of thirty stalls. This thirty stall roundhouse employed 300 to 350 men.
Interested in becoming part of
BELLE PLAINE NATIONAL TRAIN DAY COMMITTEE MEMBERSHIP
Great! . . . Lets Get Started, On Belle Plaine National Train Day 2013 Planning.
To become a Committee Member.... Provide your:
Belle Plaine National Train Day Association herein establishes Statewide Rail Line Community National Train Day Events, under the National Train Day Resolution established goals that contribute to enrichment of rail line communities of State of Iowa toward our mission and organizational development:
IOWA NATIONAL TRAIN DAY ASSOCIATION, is seeking Belle Plaine Area & State of Iowa residents, business professionals, merchants, railway personnel and other qualified citizens, to take a chair, as community advisers, who will elect representatives to chair the "BELLE PLAINE NATIONAL TRAIN DAY COMMITTEE" and participate in preparations, organization and planning for the "BELLE PLAINE TRAIN DAY CELEBRATION"
Citizens interested in volunteering time and expertise in major event planning are to "Email Resumes" and "Letter of Professional Expertise in Event Planning" to:
BELLE PLAINE, BENTON COUNTY, IOWA recognizing the vast diversity, economic development, productivity and contributes to City of Belle Plaine's growth that railway transportation system, networks and services has provided City of Belle Plaine, Iowa. Where our citizens and commerce needs for effective and efficient railway transportation throughout the North American Continent, keeps this great city a spirit among international and national economy moving, and strengthens the State of Iowa's mobility and security.
DURING BELLE PLAINE'S RAILWAY TRANSPORTATION MONTH and during Belle Plaine's Railway Transportation Day, all State Iowa Railways, including All Railroads and North American Continent Railway Systems, Private and Public Passenger are encourage to board trains of all kinds past and present traveling to "" in Belle Plaine,Iowa. Celebrate with the citizen of Belle Plaine how modern railway transportation has transformed this city and recognize the men and women who have contributed to its progress. As the City of Belle Plaine renews the commitment to increasing railway transportation productivity and commerce of all kinds to keeping City of Red Oak railway transportation system on the leading edge of importance as "".
CITY OF BELLE PLAINE'S CENTURY OF RAILWAY TRANSPORTATION system of commerce and productivity transports our citizens and delivers a wide range of goods throughout the State of Iowa to the Nations of the North American Continent and the world imports and exports. In times of national and state concerns of the century, the railway transportation system also moved troops, passengers and carried materials and general cargo in war, in disasters, in peace time tranquilly efficiently and effectively. The City of Belle Plaine's Heritage in preserving and enhancing the next railway century of transportation systems. Rail line community commerce resources makes the railway infrastructure, to facilitates growth in business and industry, creates employment opportunities, secures the State of Iowa future, and improves the quality of life for citizens of Belle Plaine, Benton County, Iowa and all rail line communities served.
TO SUSTAIN BELLE PLAINE'S RAILWAY HERITAGE & FUTURE ADVANTAGES,must continue to invest in Belle Plaine's and improve all rail line communities in Iowa's railway transportation systems. By enhancing existing rail line community tracks, rail yard, locomotives, freight and passenger railcars, with connecting transit centers to highways, waterways, and airports, to improve fuel-efficiency and locomotive emissions reduction. The City of Belle Plaine, Iowa has the determination to foster railway programs and services to work towards improving all kinds of railway commerce, protecting the city's environment, and furthering State of Iowa railway economy.
THE GREAT (Belle Plaine railraod hero or historical personage "entered here")
is the name honored by citizens of Belle Plaine for the spirit is still alive, working towards strengthening environmental protections throughout city by improving railway transportation systems and services. Railway Transportation was designed to increase mobility of citizens while maintaining the flow of freight goods and passenger services crossing Belle Plaine connecting rail line communities; our comprehensive city transportation plan includes improving railroad and railway infrastructure and services of all kinds. Belle Plaine is a "" to make proud that Belle Plaine has become a "". By this spirit of Belle Plaine welcomes historical or new, of all kinds, passenger and freight, private railcars, railway event and tour, corporate, steam power, and museum trains from all parts of the North American Continent or the world to signal train's conductor's call: "ALL BOARD" next stop "".