SIOUX CITY -- The Iowa State Historic Preservation Office announced earlier this month that the National Park Service approved Sioux City's Milwaukee Railroad Shops as a federally-designated Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The 30-acre Milwaukee Railroad Shops site was built between 1916 and 1918 by the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad Company to house their roundhouse, locomotive and car repair shops, and steam engine terminal for their rail networks in Iowa and the Dakotas. In its day, the 38-building repair shop facility was touted as the railroad company’s second largest, according to a press release from the Siouxland Historical Railroad Association.
The National Register of Historic Places recognized the site because of its historical significance to the area. The site today has 12 historic buildings and structures, 16 industrial archaeological sites, 13 industrial heritage objects and a rail yard.
More than 585 shopmen and railroad workers were employed at the Sioux City Roundhouse, Repair Shops and Engine Terminal decades ago. The workers overhauled around 35 steam locomotives per day, serviced about 70 trains a day and performed maintenance work on tens of thousands of rail cars every year.
The shops were downsized beginning in the 1950s, many of the buildings were demolished and the shops were repurposed to repair diesel locomotives. A local businessman bought the site in 1981 after a bankruptcy and converted it to a farm machinery salvage yard.
The site became home to the Sioux City Railroad Museum in 1995, after the Siouxland Historical Railroad Association purchased the complex. The group has spent more than 20 years working to preserve and transform the site.