Railroad Days 2012: An Annual Celebration of all things Train & Track Print
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Shawna Forsberg   
Monday, 25 June 2012 07:31

Celebrating Union Pacific’s 150th Anniversary

President Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act 150 years ago, establishing the Union Pacific Railway Company and connecting the nation. On Saturday, July 14, and Sunday, July 15, Lauritzen Gardens, the Union Pacific Railroad Museum, The Durham Museum, Joslyn Art Museum, the RailsWest Railroad  Museum, and the Historic General Dodge House are coming together to celebrate Union Pacific’s sesquicentennial and explore this region’s rich railroad heritage at Railroad Days 2012!

Each participating venue will offer a variety of family-friendly activities in addition to the venues’ ongoing programs and exhibits. A $15 family pass allows admission to and transportation between all six locations. A $5 pass is also available for one additional adult with the purchase of a family pass. While supplies last, each child will also receive a coloring book complements of Union Pacific. Additional information is available at

Railroad Days is made possible thanks to the generous support of Union Pacific Railroad and a grant provided by the Iowa West Foundation. Media support provided by KETV. Printing support provided by Elman & Co.

At Lauritzen Gardens, experience a stunning collection of Mother Nature’s finest in incredible, vivid, living color. Enjoy 20 inspiring gardens- each a welcoming place of surprise and wonder that change with the seasons and evoke a sensory experience. During Railroad Days, botanical meets mechanical at Lauritzen Gardens.

Visit the model railroad garden to discover seven bridge-chugging, tunnel-zooming G-scale train lines winding through replicas of Omaha’s favorite landmarks. Look closely- all bridges, trestles and buildings are made of natural bark, twigs, acorns and seeds. Amazing! Stop by the control shed to meet our friendly engineers.

Fun is just around the bend with free rides through the garden on board the popular Union Pacific miniature train, a scale model of a 900-series locomotive. Children can also enjoy complimentary rides on a classic 1949 King Amusement Company On-Track Train Ride as it chugs along tracks through the scenic festival garden patio.

Join the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in celebrating Union Pacific’s 150th anniversary with our newest exhibit “Building America”. Since opening in 2003, the Union Pacific Railroad Museum’s first floor has been dedicated to sharing the experience of building the Transcontinental Railroad. The new exhibit takes the telling of this story to an entirely new level. With a new immersive design and cutting-edge technology, visitors will be transported to the 1860s as they learn about the monumental work needed for constructing the railroad and the communities that were created along its route. Showcasing over 200 artifacts, some dating back to the 1860s many of our larger collections will be on display for the first time; including 55 firearms, 60 railroad lanterns and 64 stereographic images from the building of the transcontinental railroad.

Housed in a historic Carnegie library, the Union Pacific Railroad Museum features one of the oldest corporate collections in the nation. Here, you’ll journey through more than 150 years of history, experiencing the transcontinental railroad’s construction; the Lincoln Collection, featuring artifacts from President Abraham Lincoln’s rail car and funeral; the “America Travels by Rail” exhibit, which celebrates the height of passenger travel; and the technology and innovation that sustain Union Pacific as a railroad industry leader.

On January 15, 1931, Omaha’s Union Station opened its doors to the public and was recognized as one of the finest examples of art deco architecture in the Midwest. In its heyday, the station served over ten thousand passengers daily. Today, Union Station is home to The Durham Museum, one of the country’s most vibrant and beautiful hands-on museums. Visitors can explore exhibits that preserve the areas rich history including an extensive train car exhibit with steam engines, a Pullman car, Lounge cars, and a caboose. There is also an impressive 100-foot O gauge model train layout representing Union Pacific’s double track main line during the 1950s. Be sure to stop by the museum’s original soda fountain for decadent ice cream treats.

During Railroad Days, see the original Pacific Railway Act signed by Abraham Lincoln in July 1, 1862. This national treasure is on loan to The Durham Museum from the National Archives. There will also be many activities for children including a puzzle station with images from The Durham’s Photo Archive, temporary tattoo stations, and crafts including design your own name train and create your own postcards.

Joslyn Art Museum is a major regional resource for the collection, preservation, and interpretation of the visual arts. The Museum was a gift to the people of Omaha from Sarah Joslyn in memory of her husband, George - both were involved Omaha citizens and generous philanthropists. The Museum’s original 1931 building is one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in the nation, with 38 types of marble from seven countries.

See the exhibition The Great West Illustrated: Celebrating 150 Years of the Union Pacific Railroad, organized by Joslyn in collaboration with the Union Pacific Railroad Museum. While visiting Joslyn during Railroad Days, hear Toby Jurovics, Chief Curator and Richard and Mary Holland Curator of American Western Art, give an introduction to The Great West Illustrated in the Museum’s lecture hall at 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm each day. Younger visitors will enjoy making “train art” by decorating their own 2-D train car and adding an easel backing to make it stand. We’ll line them up and see how far the train stretches! Live music will be performed outdoors in the garden throughout the weekend to keep everyone’s toes tappin’. An array of self-guided activities, from the Kids Can Do art station and Art Packs to sculpture garden and gallery scavenger hunts, will also be available.

Perhaps one of Council Bluffs’ most famous residents, Gen. Grenville M. Dodge has been called “the greatest railroad builder of all time.” A Civil War veteran, Dodge’s involvement in political, financial and military affairs made him an associate of many of the most influential Americans of his time and counsel to presidents, including Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.

In 1869, Dodge built his handsome Victorian home at 605 Third Street at the cost of $35,000, a lavish sum for that day. The fourteen-room, three-story mansion stands on a high terrace overlooking the Missouri Valley, and displays such architectural features as parquet floors, cherry, walnut and butternut woodwork, and a number of “modern” conveniences quite unusual for the period.

During Railroad Days, the Historic General Dodge House will unveil its newest exhibit, Dodge’s Tracks and Ties in the eight lower level display cases. Follow the footsteps of General Dodge from his early years in Massachusetts, traveling to Iowa with the railroad, his business ventures, military career and friendships with such notable people as Lincoln and Grant. Civil War re-enactors will also be present on the grounds.

The RailsWest Railroad Museum, located in the historic Rock Island Depot, features displays and artifacts from the numerous rail lines that passed through Council Bluffs. The museum is home to an extensive H.O. scale model train layout operated by the Greater Omaha Society of Model Engineers that is a must see for rail fans of all ages. Outside in the train yard visitors are invited to climb aboard the old steam engines and take a ride down memory lane or just sit back and relax in the Omaha Club car that ran between Chicago, IL and Lincoln, NE with a stop in Council Bluffs. Visitors can imagine themselves riding along behind the train in the 1918 cupola style caboose or in the 1967 bay window style caboose. For a challenge, try your hand at sorting mail in the mail car and learn  some interesting facts about the men and women that worked the rails. There is always plenty to see and do while visiting the RailsWest Railroad Museum.

During Railroad Days, visitors will be treated to live music by Perry Burkum and other talented local bands. Vendors will be on hand with mouthwatering hamburgers, hot dogs, and refreshments and there will be plenty of fun and games for the whole family.

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