Rock Island Train Depot

99 Counties | FIND Iowa
Jul 21, 2024 | 02:34

Why were train depots important in Iowa towns?

There was a time when no Iowa town was more than five miles from a train depot. For some towns, like Eldon, the railroad was a way of life. 


[Abby Brown]

For 100 years, that sound meant something very special to the southeast Iowa town. A history that is still honored today.

The Rock Island train depot in Eldon, Iowa was once a crossroads for several different railroad lines hauling Freight and passengers. But developments in different modes of transportation like the highway system eventually meant that the railroad wasn't used as much. When The rail lines in this area shut down in 1980, evidence of that rich railroad history was just gone. Until 2001, when a committee was formed. They gathered with community volunteers to bring this train depot back to life in celebration of Eldon's railroad history. People donated lots of items to display in this museum, each one of these artifacts has a story to tell about this area's contribution to the railroad industry. From the lanterns to the lunchboxes. This purse was donated by a man who lived near here. It was in his family for over a hundred years; but it's not a purse. What do you think this could be used for back when the railroads were popular? Well, in the late 1800s the seats on a train were wooden. Some women would bring this purse on board when they traveled because it folded out to create a cushion. What a clever way to ride in comfort. In addition to some really cool stuff from the old railroad days, the Rock Island Depot Museum has a real train engine and a caboose. Maybe your community was part of the railroad industry way back then. At a museum like this, you can imagine what life would have been like at that time.

Every County in Iowa has traveled its own unique path to get where it is today. Thanks for climbing aboard while we discover Wapello County.