SIOUX CITY | The final event of Preservation Week will pay homage to the history of the railroad in conjunction with National Train Day.
Tours and a classic car show will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Milwaukee Railroad Shops complex, 3400 Sioux River Road in Riverside.
The event includes the Great Northern steam locomotive No. 1355, nicknamed Ironhorse, which will be on display on the turntable. The locomotive is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There also will be a presentation on how railroads fueled the nation during World War II.
"American railroads were truly the lifeline of the nation," said Rudy Daniel, a Sioux City train historian, educator and author of "Trains Across the Continent.
Daniels will give the keynote presentation at 1:30 p.m. on "Railroads and World War II" in the car shops building.
"They carried 97 percent of all servicemen and women, 91 percent of all military supplies and 83 percent of all traffic of the country," he said. "They had their own special military draft and paid over $1 billion per year in taxes -- that's in 1944 dollars. Our military personnel rebuilt the railroads of Europe into the magnificent system we so much admire today."
Earlier in the day, Sioux City Public Museum archival clerk Tom Munson will discuss the growth of railroads in Sioux City, also in the car shops building. His presentation begins at 11 a.m.
The Milwaukee Railroad Shops complex was built in 1917 by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railway Company, more commonly known as The Milwaukee Road.
It was the second largest shop complex in the company's system. The shops closed in 1981 when the railroad went bankrupt. In 1995, the city of Sioux City awarded the Siouxland Historical Railroad Association a grant to purchase the complex and start restoration work on the 31.5-acre grounds and remaining buildings. Restoration work continues.
At 3:30 p.m., the Iowa Road Trip state tourism bus will pull into the complex to recognize the railroad association's efforts to promote tourism in Siouxland.
Railyard characters will be on hand to interact with attendees. Anyone may show their cars, trucks and motorcycles to display at the classic car show. Admission is free to those who show their vehicles. Free motorcar rides and tours will be given.
Daniels said the fascination with trains remains strong.
"In steam days, it seemed as if the locomotive was a living, breathing, fire-belching behemoth," he explained. "Today we still marvel at their size -- their length as well as height and girth. And they seem to move effortlessly and in such a determined, unflagging way."