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Railroad Preservation Group Buys Silvis Rail Shop

silvis car shops.PNG
Railroading Heritage of Midwest America
the former Rock Island Line car shops in Silvis, Illinois

A group dedicated to preserving railroad history has bought a historic rail property in the Quad Cities. Railroading Heritage of Midwest America now owns 90 acres in Silvis that was once the main "car shop" for the Rock Island Line.

silvis car shops engine 261.PNG
Railroading Heritage of Midwest America
Milwaukee Road steam locomotive No. 261

President Steve Sandberg says his group, now based in Minneapolis, plans to use the Silvis complex to restore antique equipment, and may eventually open a museum.

"We have a fleet of passenger cars but in the future we hope to have it open to the public and we are definitely exploring all possibilities as far as commercial ventures, warehousing space, and rail car storage."

His group bought the property from National Railway Equipment which is moving its locomotive manufacturing, and most of its workers, to southern Illinois (Mt. Vernon) and Kentucky (Paducah). Three railroads also use the complex, the BNSF, Canadian Pacific, and Iowa Interstate.

"We love the trains and we enjoy the trains, but it's really because of our enjoyment of preservation and history and teaching generations about the hard work that the men and women did before us to build this country."

Sandberg's group organizes special steam-powered train excursions in Minneapolis, and may soon offer them in the Quad Cities.

He calls this "one of the boldest moves for historic and railroad preservation in recent history."

A native of Detroit, Herb Trix began his radio career as a country-western disc jockey in Roswell, New Mexico (“KRSY, your superkicker in the Pecos Valley”), in 1978. After a stint at an oldies station in Topeka, Kansas (imagine getting paid to play “Louie Louie” and “Great Balls of Fire”), he wormed his way into news, first in Topeka, and then in Freeport Illinois. While a graduate student in the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois at Springfield (then known as Sangamon State University), he got his first taste of public radio, covering Illinois state government for WUIS. Here in the Quad Cities, Herb worked for WHBF Radio before coming to WVIK in 1987. Herb also produces the weekly public affairs feature Midwest Week – covering the news behind the news by interviewing reporters about the stories they cover.