Chicago Great Western & Rock Island preservation in northeastern Iowa

Past Updates

A look back at 2011...

As we begin another year at your museum, I believe that it is especially important to re-state the objectives of Hub City Heritage Corporation.

"The objectives of the Corporation are to encourage and promote the preservation and restoration of railroad memorabilia as pertinent to the Oelwein area.  To establish, furnish, and maintain a railway museum for the education and enjoyment of the general public."

The HO Gauge train layout given to the museum by the Don Schoentag family has been finished by our 17 year old engineer.  Another young man visiting from Georgia had painted an EMD F7-A and B unit in CGW colors.  He gave them to the museum.  The layout is a major attraction here.

The second pump handcar is finished, although it will need some minor adjustments as soon as it is warm enough in the spring.

The motorcar was running during last year's Heritage Days, and it is expected to be running this year as well.

The CGW boxcar containing the signal equipment displays was open during last year's Heritage Days.  Permanent lights will be installed later this year.

The black SW-1 switch engine is now open for visitors (once the wasps that had moved in were evicted).

The process of protecting and preserving tens of thousands of employee cards and records has begun.  The cards are being scanned into a computer.  To this date, over ten thousand have been completed.

We have received a grant from the State of Iowa to help preserve our historic documents and pictures.  This task is underway as well.  This requires a room where the temperature can be controlled.

It was a good year in that our objectives were met.  However, membership declined.  We are all getting older.

Twice this year, a professional photographer used the museum for background shots (for which we received credit).  The pictures ran in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa Gazette newspaper.  We also had three large bus tours visit the museum.

Again this year, visitors from other countries payed us a visit.  Countries included:  New Zealand, South Africa, and Germany.  The visitors from Germany were members of the Oelwein family.  We had 1,301 people sign the guest register.  32 different states, and 82 towns in Iowa were represented.  63 people inquired about their relatives, or historical information regarding railroads.

Looking ahead at 2012, The National Railway Historical Society convention will be in Cedar Rapids on June 18-24.  A tour of the museum and former CGW property is scheduled for Thursday, June 21.  We have been told to expect between 75 and 200 people.

We have made the third weekend in August Heritage Days.

Unfortunately, we must move on to some bad news.  The Union Pacific Railroad has let the contract for the demolition of the shops building, running repair, and other buildings they own in Oelwein.  They commissioned Joe Trnka to prepare a historic narrative for the Oelwein Shops.  He has done a very good job.  If, when, how, or where it may be available to the public is not yet known, but once we find out, we will advise our members, and it will be on this site as well.  With the loss of the buildings, there is even more reason for our museum to continue its mission to preserve Oelwein's unique railroad history.

The officers of the Hub City Heritage Museum appreciate, and THANK, ALL OF YOU for your support.  At this time, only about a dozen local volunteers are doing most of the work.  In order to continue, WE NEED MORE LOCAL PARTICIPATION AND MEMBERSHIPS.  As you can see by the numbers mentioned earlier, the railroad museum is, for a town the size of Oelwein, a large tourist draw.  And, a successful place to preserve Oelwein's history.  Please consider giving some of your time, becoming a member, or both.

We hope that everybody has a very happy 2012!

William "Bill" Mundt, President
and all Hub City Heritage Museum officers

Update:  August 21, 2011

Thank you for making 2011's Oelwein Railroad Days a success!

Update:  January 9, 2011
Happy New Year!

Hello to all;

2010 was quite a year!  The museum had about 2000 visitors from all over Iowa, 27 other states, and two foreign countries.

In the middle of April, we started connecting the wires under the model train layout.  What a mess!  What a job!  It's still not finished, but we do have trains running (sometimes) on the track.

We had considerable rain damage in the yard office.  The ceiling tile needed to be replaced, so we replaced it with a washable, plastic tile.  We installed recessed fluorescent lights, and ceiling fans (donated), in both downstairs rooms of the building.

George Whalen came to our April meeting, and told us that if he could have space to build a room todisplay all of his railroad memorabilia, he would donate all of it to the museum.  He had also made a DVD of movies he took of the last days of the CGW shops in operation in Oelwein, and said that he would give all rights to sell them to the Hub City Heritage Museum (available elsewhere on this page, a two disc set is just $20 plus $5 shipping).  It didn't take long for us to start clearing space on the second floor of the yard office!  George, with the help of about eight others, braved the heat, and built a room.  George and Linda moved all of their railroad memorabilia from their home to the museum.  Part of his collection are scale models of CGW engines and cars which he cut from walnut shells.  They are unbelievable!

In May, we had two museum consultants tour the museum.  One from Luther college, and one from a museum in Davenport.  They advised us, due to lack of space for displays, to replace the old, horizontal cases with vertical cases.  So, thanks to Don Bush, we have eleven new cases for just the cost of materials.

Also in May, we got a volunteer for eight hours a day, five days a week.  He was a gem, and got lots of painting and small jobs done in May and June.

In June, Charles (Chuck) Finch, a CGW/CNW station agent passed away.  His daughter and son donated all of his pictures, and the manuscripts of the books he wrote about working on the railroad.

Also this summer, a group of our members cleared a space by the front door of the yard office, and did some landscaping.  It looks great!

All of a sudden, it was the third weekend in August, and Hub City Heritage Days were here.  Somehow we were ready.  We had a large crowd.  Climbing the tower and pumping the handcar were two popular activities.

We have finally finished the second handcar, and it is ready for its maiden run in the spring.

Two of our members put together a 2011 CGW calendar.  It includes great pictures of the construction of the shops, and items of historical interest.  The calendar is available for sale elsewhere on this webpage.  The calendars are just $12 (plus $3 shipping).

There is still no word on what is happening to the shops building.  Possibilities for the use of it and the 30 surrounding acres are being looked into.

Our new schedule runs from the last weekend in April through the first weekend in October (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from 12:00 PM until 4:00 PM).  We will still be opening for tours.  We really need volunteers to help on those days.  It is a lot of fun to meet visitors who are interested in the CGW, and who have stories to tell.  It would be great if we could get more local people to take an interest in Oelwein's heritage.

2011 membership dues are now due.  We are trying not to raise our dues this year.  We hope that more will help.  Single memberships are still just $15, families are $25.  We hope that all of you will be staying with us in 2011.  Our dues and donations are what keep us going.

Thank you for your continued support in our effert to preserve Oelwein's railroad history!

William Mundt, President
Hub City Heritage Railroad Museum

Update:  December 5, 2010
News and Notes

The Museum is now offering a 2 DVD set showing the Oelwein shops in action. The video was shot by member and former CGW/CNW employee George Whalen. Shot in the early 90's it shows the shop in the last days of operation and George takes you on a complete tour of the shops yard and
trackage around Oelwein. It is available for $25.00 postpaid by sending a check or money order to the museum.

Also available is the Museum 2011 calendar. The theme is the Oelwein shops with many rare photgraphs showing the construction of the shop. The calendar is $15.00 postpaid, sending a check or money order sent to the museum.

As of December 5, 2010, there is still no word from Union Pacific on the fate of the Oelwein shops.

Update: September 27, 2010
News and Notes

Still no word from the UP on the fate of the shops.

Railroad Days went extremely well this year. We had approximately 1300 visitors from 32 states that weekend. Thank you to all that came out and we hope too see you again soon. Here are a few pictures of some flowers that were planted by Lew & Kay Westcott and Bill & Sue Klendworth. Cannon Greenhouse of Westgate donated some of the landscaping materials. (Click images to enlarge)


Update:  July 25, 2010
Photos Courtesy:  Ed Raye

We now have 11 display cabinets made by local cabinet maker Buzz Bush. Museum volunteers have been taking care of the finishing work.  A few of the cabinets are pictured below.

We have replaced all the ceiling tile and installed new lighting on the
main floor of the yard office. Ceiling fans have been added in the south
end of the yard office.  Those tackling this project were:  
Bill Mundt, Shirley Mundt, Chris Mundt, Bill Nickerson, Ed Raye, Dana Smith, Dale Jarchow, and others.

Work is progressing on the HO scale layout of Don Schoentag, now on
display in the south end of the yard office.  The layout is now
operational after the move from the Schoentag home. There is still scenery
that needs to be done. The pictures show the incredible detail Don put
into the scenery. The layout was donated to the museum by Don's wife
Bonnie following his passing.

Work is underway on the second floor north end of the yard office, in order to provide a space to display a new collection. George Whalen is a museum member, and he is donating his entire railroad collection to the museum. 
Workers included Roger Hummell, Bernie Saathoff, Lew Westcott, George Whalen, and others.George is a third generation CGW employee and was the last foreman at the Oelwein shops when the CNW closed it down.

A new display designed to help draw the public's attention is now in place in front of the yard office.  A crossing signal from the CGW at Mulberry Street in Waterloo has been installed and made operational.  Also included in the new display is a short section of track housing a freight car truck.  Photos courtesy Ed Raye.


Update: July 24, 2010
Oelwein Railroad Days

Oelwein Railroad Days 2010 will be Saturday August 21 and Sunday August
22. The museum will be open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM both days.  Some of the
highlights: The CGW 116A, the yard tower, and recently restored Rock Island
caboose 17958 will be open for display. The Don Schoentag HO-Scale layout will
be operating. Demonstration rides will be given on one of the museum's

Update:  March 17, 2010
March Meeting
The monthly meeting of the Hub City Heritage Corporation Railway Museum was held on March 15, 2010.  As of yet, no news regarding the fate of the Oelwein Shops has been received from the Union Pacific.

Oelwein's CGW Shops in Jeopardy

Locomotive and car repair shops under construction in 1898.
From the collection of Jim Rueber

On February 8, 2010, I met with Oelwein's mayor, city council, and Brenda Mainwaring, Director of Public Relations for the Union Pacific Railroad.

She explained the reasons behind the decision for taking down the Chicago Great Western shop building. 

A discussion followed in which we all asked questions, and the council expressed all of our concerns, some of which the UP had not considered. She told us that she didn't think the UP would change their minds, but that she would make a report on our meeting and let the city know what happens.  Brenda did ask me one big favor; "call off the letter writing and emails".

William Mundt, President
Hub City Heritage Railroad Museum

Hub City Heritage Corporation Railway Museum

  26 2nd Avenue SW    Oelwein, Iowa     319-283-1939

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