Written by Kera Mashek, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -
This weekend, hundreds of people from around the world are riding the rails through eastern Iowa. And this particular rail journey is significant for the National Railway Historical Society and the state.
"I've never seen so much corn! But I like Iowa. It's just real pretty," said Hugh Ryan of Birmingham, Alabama.
Hugh Ryan's seen a lot of America like by riding the rails on passenger trains. It's part of a life-long fascination with pull cars.
"Started when I was a small kid riding trains. My uncle would sit me on his lap in the steam engine, I just went from there," said Ryan.
Ryan's one of 800 people to ride Iowa rails this weekend as part of the National Railway Historical Society's annual convention. It's the group's first time chugging through Iowa, and using some rare rails.
"Part of the track we've been on there's not been a passenger train on since then 1960s. So a lot of these people like to come out and ride trains you can't normally ride," said Dr. Barton Jennings, National Railway Historic Society Convention Chair.
And folks from around the nation and world have been coasting Iowa's countryside. Britt Richard Maund says in Iowa, he's reminded a bit of home.
"The developed agriculture, but not on a massive scale, and the undulating countryside, small farms, small villages and towns, and woodland areas, are quite similar to parts of England," said Maund of Cheshire, England.
Like Maund, many of the rides deeply value how trains, like one named the Cedar Rapids, help preserve a slice of life that's slowly been disappearing.
"Especially for places like Iowa, the railroads were here first. People came second. Towns were created by the railroads. And we've put together information that's let people seen that railroads are a significant part of history and will be part of the future," Dr. Jennings said.
And all aboard the trains say preserving the rail history ensures it remains the absolute best way to see the country.
Next year, the Historic Railway Society will take its convention to Alaska. But the group says it won't wait another 77 years before making a trip back through Iowa.
The first stop was the World War II Memorial, where one family was anxiously awaiting the arrival of their veteran, Lyle Swan. They drove all night from Kentucky and Tennessee just to see him arrive.More >>
The first stop was the World War II Memorial, where one family was anxiously awaiting the arrival of their veteran, Lyle Swan. They drove all night from Kentucky and Tennessee just to see him arrive, and cheered as he rolled close.More >>
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