Manly Junction RR Museum
Static Engine Display
UP line coming up from Mason City IA
GPS Coordinates: as needed
Phone A/C: 641
Access by train/transit:
About 10 miles north of Mason City IA, there is a junction between
the Union Pacific and the Iowa Northern. The Iowa Northern track ends here in Manly,
while The UP continues on north to Northwood IA, Glenville MN, and
Albert Lea MN
before continuing north to Owatonna MN, Northfield MN, South St Paul, and
then finally into St Paul's Hoffman Yard crossing the Mississippi River on the
bridge shown below.
As I stated in the Mason City guide, Iowa seems to be one of those under
rated states for railfanning. When I was traveling a lot for work back in
the late 90's, I got to sample a fair portion of what Iowa has to offer,
including Mason City, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Ames, Waterloo, Iowa City, and
the quad cities area with Davenport. I was not disappointed, to say the least!!!
Please note: most of the aerial pictures come from Bing Maps, when they had the
best aerial pictures via their "Birds Eye" view. This is no longer the
case, as most small towns, like Manly (and even some areas of large cities), no
longer have a birds eye view available. Boo to Bing.
Interstate I-35 bi-sects the state of Iowa right down
the middle. This makes it easy to get to from the twin cities of
Minneapolis and St Paul to the north, and Des Moines to the south.
Manly is about 3 hours from the twin cities.
The easiest way to get here, if you're coming into the area
via the interstate, I-35, is to take exit 203. This puts you on IA 9, which
brings you right into the middle of Manly as South Street.
From Mason City, take US 65 north to Manly.
To get to/from Nora Springs, you will have to zig-zag the back roads.
NOTE: While driving around here, a good portion of the
roads are dirt roads. If you are following another vehicle which is
kicking up the dust, slow down and wait "till the dust clears" :-)
This is important, as there could be a vehicle coming at you from the other
direction, and you will never see it if you follow the one in front of you too closely.
All of the pictures here are from a trip I took to Minneapolis and St Paul back in 2006.
Engine and Caboose on Display
GPS Coordinates: 43.283786, -93.201453
Iowa Northern #2000 on static display where the IAN crosses South St: E South St and S Broadway St.
Manly Junction RR Museum
GPS Coordinates: 43.287039, -93.202989
111 E Main St, Manly, IA 50456, corner of N Todd St & E Main St.
Opened in the summer of 2012, it is a work in progress. The following story was found
An orange rail motorcar, weathered lanterns, signs, timetables and mural-size photographs are among the
displays in the Manly Railroad Junction Museum, set to open to the public later this summer. A
project of Dan, Brad and Mark Sabin, descendants of Art Sabin, a former engineer for the Rock Island
Railroad in Manly, the museum will be open weekends in August, said Brad Sabin, project manager for the
Iowa Northern Railway Co., of Cedar Rapids. It is housed in the former Oltman’s Grocery store at
101 E. Main St. “We grew up in a railroad family and this was a railroad community,” Sabin,
50, said. “We wanted a museum for the community and for the people to enjoy and understand what the
railroad used to be.” The museum is a testament to the days when Manly was a hub for the
Rock Island Railroad, the location of the Rock Island Terminal, Sabin said. In the early 1950s, as
many as 14 passenger trains per day stopped at Manly, formerly known as Manly Junction. The
Sabins leased the grocery building in August 2010 and completely remodeled it, adding new carpeting,
track lighting and a ticket office that features an iron grate from a depot in Texas. Dramatic
black-and-white photos dating from the late 1800s to modern times and 13 flat-screen TVs with separate
slide shows help tell the story of the railroad days in Iowa and southern Minnesota, days that shouldn’t
be forgotten, the Sabins said. “It’s all of our heritage,” said Dan Sabin, 59, president and
owner of the Iowa Northern Railway, which runs from Manly to Cedar Rapids. “Just about every town in
Iowa was formulated by the railroads. Now I think people are realizing how important railroads are,
particularly people who have lost theirs.” He is especially excited about photos showing troop
trains from World War II and the railway post office, Sabin said. One photo shows a
flag-draped Vietnam soldier’s coffin being unloaded from a train; another shows a middle-aged man
receiving the body of his nephew killed in World War II in the 1940s. “You can’t look at that
without feeling the emotion of the human story,” Sabin said. Depression-era photos of hobos and
a family reduced to riding the rails, tug at the heart. An 1890s photo of women in long skirts
pumping water at a railroad well presents a picture of life that few may remember. Engineers lean
out of their windows, a conductor holds up his lantern to signal the engineer.
“The main thing we’re trying to show is the different workers and characters of the railroad,” Brad Sabin said.
Many of the photos were donated. But Dan Sabin also donated from his own sizeable personal photo
collection. The photos have been blown up to poster size on a museum-quality printer. Other
exhibits feature memorabilia such as railroad watches, grips, uniforms and tools, donated by Manly
residents and other interested individuals. Globe lights in the front portion of the museum are
from the old Manly depot. There is still much work to be done. Exhibits need to be labeled,
the collection must be indexed and there are still many materials — including a map collection from the
Chicago Northwestern Historical Society and archives from the Rock Island Technical Society — to sort and
organize. One portion of the building is being set aside for construction of a model railroad.
“It’s a slow process to do it right,” Dan Sabin said. Construction of the museum would not
have been possible without a $88,547 grant from the Worth County Development Authority in April 2011,
Sabin said. Earlier WCDA grants for $50,000, in April 2008, and a special grant of $10,000 in
November 2007, were also used toward the project, including for the purchase of 10 acres of land on
the north side of town. An adjoining seven-acre parcel was donated by Lois Thompo, Brad
Sabin said. The Sabins hope in the not too distant future to build a permanent structure to
house the railroad museum and a community center for the citizens of Manly to enjoy. “I’ve been
collecting since I was a little kid,” Dan Sabin said. “It’s an opportunity to share this. We’re
really hopeful that people will have artifacts and photographs that we can use.” Anyone wishing
to donate railroad memorabilia or photos to the new Manly Junction Railroad Museum is asked to call Brad
Sabin at 641-425-6104.
The following excerpt from July 2007 was found here
Plans are being unveiled to build a ten-million dollar railroad museum in the northern Iowa town of Manly. Dan
Sabin, president of the non-profit Iowa Northern Railway, says they’re just completing the purchase of
two historic locomotives that would be restored and housed at the planned museum.
Sabin says it’s still in the development stage but they’ve bought two rare Rock Island Lines passenger
locomotives. They want to display them but also want to have them be operated on the grounds so it would be a
"live museum." Sabin says the group would like to see the museum developed into a great place for rail fans,
tourists and researchers to visit.
They want to integrate commercial development, including restaurants and shops, with modern facilities
but in a 1920s appearance, along with a vintage railroad station. Sabin says there are also plans for a
storehouse of pictures and other information about railroads so the museum could also become a railroad
research facility for scholars, writers and historians. Manly is just north of Mason City in Worth County. Sabin
says the town used to be a hub for rail activity, decades ago, so he sees it as an appropriate distinction
that railroads could again put Manly on the map.
Sabin says the group wants to see that Manly celebrates its railroad heritage with such a museum.
Sabin and his family members are also partners in the Manly Terminal, an ethanol warehouse operation that is
currently being constructed north of Manly. He says that project combined with the museum idea could also make
Manly a railroad town of the future. Anyone interested in contributing money or memorabilia to the project can
contact Sabin at (319) 297-6000 or by e-mailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Courtesy of the University of Texas Library, click here for their index page.
For Iowa back in the late 1800's and early 1900's, the
USGS did not have much of the state mapped out, so, this is the only thing I
could find: the 1925 index map for Iowa.
Disclaimers: I love trains, and I love signals. I am not an
expert. My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page.
This is something I have fun with while trying to help others. My
webpages are an attempt at putting everything I can find of the subject in
one convenient place.
Please Note: Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides
are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them. For those
of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my
indexa page has a list of
almost everything railroad oriented I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to
help you detail your pike.
If this is a railfan page, every effort has
been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this
railfan guide is correct. Once in a while, an error may creep in :-).
My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a
thousand words, especially for railfanning. Text descriptions only
get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented. Take
along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still
better if you get lost! I belong to AAA, which allows you to get
local maps for free when you visit the local branches. ADC puts
out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their
state maps do not have the railroads on them. If you can find em,
I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and
concise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where
tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads.
Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.
Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels
inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have
something to add or correct.... credit is always given! BE NICE!!! Contact info
Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as
being possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.