It is not every day you see a historic steam locomotive, coal tender and passenger car weighing over 300,000 pounds rolling down the street, but that is exactly what is going to happen in Boone. On Wednesday and Thursday, this central Iowa community known for its railroad heritage will see its newly restored Welcome Train being moved across town to its new home adjacent to Highway 30.
Boone’s Welcome Train will be among the most unique landmarks along Highway 30 and will become a popular attraction for travelers and tourists, said Dave Cook, who helped spearhead the project.
“The Welcome Train is a half a football field long, weighs over 150 tons, and is comprised of a 2-8-0- steam locomotive, coal tender and passenger car each painted in historically-correct colors,” he said. “The train will sit just off Highway 30 and S. Story St. at the entrance to Boone and look as if it’s heading into town. Then later this summer ‘Welcome to Boone’ will be painted on the coal tender. We want to greet visitors to Boone in an unforgettable way and the size and scale of the Welcome Train will certainly do that.”
Project planning began early in 2017 when the Rotary Club of Boone started preparing for the Club’s centennial celebration. At the time, the club was searching for a one of a kind service project to commemorate this historic occasion in the club’s history, while also wanting to give back to the Boone community. With that in mind, the enormous wheels of the Welcome Train were set in motion.
“Just as many Iowans associate the town of Pella with tulips, most associate Boone with trains, railroad history and the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad,” Cook said. “Boone’s Welcome Train builds on that long-established railroad connection.
“This has become a labor of love for many volunteers and donors alike. The train was donated by the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad (BSVRR). Rotary provided the leadership, fundraising and sweat equity. Fox Engineering did an incredible job preparing the site plan.
“Fareway Stores was an early project champion and their support was crucial, as was Iowa Department of Transportation and the City of Boone,” Cook said.
For those wishing to watch the train being moved, heavy-haulers plan to move the passenger car in the morning on Wednesday. Later that day, they expect to move the coal tender. The most complicated part of the overall move will take place on Thursday when the enormous 2-8-0 steam locomotive will slowly wind its way through Boone. Moving dates are subject to change due to inclement weather.
All three pieces of equipment will follow the same route through Boone. Each will depart BSVRR at 11th and Harrison streets, then move east on 11th St. to Story St., then south on Story St. and across Union Pacific tracks. After navigating through downtown, each train car will continue south on South Story St. to Hancock Dr., then 1 block east to South Marshall St., and then south to the site located at 1919 S. Marshall St.
To help ensure the safety of the public and those involved with the move, everyone is asked to maintain a safe distance from the heavy-hauler trucks, as well as the various support vehicles. Those watching are also asked to follow social distancing guidelines along the route.
Work is also underway on the next phase of the Welcome Train project. Boone Rotary is currently raising funds to add a walkway around the train, lighting, landscaping, visitor information and donor recognition. More information is available at boonerotary.com and donors wishing to contribute can mail a tax deductible donation to Rotary Welcome Train, P.O. Box 532, Boone, IA 50036