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Railroading Heritage of Midwest America expanding to Silvis

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 7:00 PM CST
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SILVIS, Ill. (KWQC) - Railroads have been a staple of the Quad Cities’ culture for generations. Now, a Midwest-based organization is looking to preserve the history of railroads while also introducing a new audience to their importance.

“The Quad Cities has a rich railroad history, and we are hoping that our expansion to the Silvis facility will generate more interest for preservation, education about railroad history, and just the important role railroads played in the development of our nation,” said Steve Sandberg, president and COO of Railroading Heritage of Midwest America.

After months of negotiations, Railroading Heritage of Midwest America announced it will expand its operations to the former National Railway Equipment shop complex in Silvis.

“Several of the major railroads connect through the quad cities, so it gives us a platform to do more educational work, more preservation, and our goal is to combine that with a multi-use facility that will help the community and expand our operations throughout the midwest,” Sandberg said.

The 90-acre facility has more than 10 miles of tracks and the main shop building is 400,000 square feet.

“The railroad, in essence, built Silvis in many respects,” said Matthew Carter, mayor of Silvis. “We have steam and iron in our veins.”

Carter said he has reviewed Railroading Heritage of Midwest America’s financial records and feels the expansion will have a positive impact on the area.

“This will certainly be a tourist opportunity. Steam locomotives carry a certain flair of romance, you know, of the rails, something of the past. It’s not going to just impact Silvis. It’s going to impact the entire Quad Cities, both the Illinois side and the Iowa side. There are a lot of people who are train buffs out there that want to come to see this. It’s a marriage that makes sense. We’re a rural town. The largest repair facility in the nation. It just makes sense,” Carter said.

Under an agreement, a portion of the shop will be leased to National Railway Equipment over the next five years to help generate revenue to help offset the cost of the facility’s acquisition.

Railroading Heritage of Midwest America is currently cleaning the facility and plans to have it open to the public again in 2023. To learn more about Railroading Heritage of Midwest America, visit https://rrhma.com/ and https://261.com/.

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