Dubuque railway in national spotlight - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque railway in national spotlight

The TSA inspected the Fenelon Place Elevator in Dubuque The TSA inspected the Fenelon Place Elevator in Dubuque

One Dubuque railway has found itself in the pages of the LA Times this month in the wake of an August inspection by the Transportation Security Administration.

The findings, however, reveal the only thing to fear is heights.

Jean Tiffany is a cable car operator at the Fenelon Place elevator. That's a 296-foot-long cable car system built into the bluffs of Dubuque, boasting the best view in town.

"If I went to Egypt, I would have to see the Nile, so when international visitors come to America, they want to see the Mississippi River," Tiffany said.

She said she has met people from all over the world, as one of four regular operators.

The elevator on a hill, also known as a funicular, is a popular mode of transportation for tens of thousands of tourists and commuters each year. It's not a place you'd expect to see the US Government poking around, but that's exactly what happened in August, according to owner Amy Schadle.

"They're in transportation, and it's a railroad, it was on their list, so they came," Schadle said, of the TSA. "They were making sure it was safe from terrorism."

The TSA inspected the site as part of a nationwide effort to protect against terrorist attacks on transit systems, and the historic Fenelon Place Elevator made the inspectors' list.

"They find that they enjoyed it and that it was safe," Schadle said cheerfully Monday afternoon, on the elevator's viewing deck.

"I wasn't concerned at all about us passing it," Tiffany said. "I was more concerned about if we were going have to start doing pat-downs on our riders."

Michael Pierce, a Dubuque native now living in Seattle, rode the elevator Monday afternoon during a visit back home.

"Yes, I do feel safe," he said. "I mean, there's no question it's a little unnerving, but, yeah, I feel safe."

After the TSA's positive report, customers can ride with total peace of mind, unless, of course, they're afraid of heights.

The Fenelon Place Elevator closes for the season at the end of November, but not without some holiday fanfare.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will ride the elevator and greet kids the day after Thanksgiving at 6 p.m. That's free to the public.

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