When I married my husband, I inherited several pieces of ugly furniture, an array of Pink Floyd CDs, some really bad kitchen utensils, and hundreds of O-gauge scale trains and train accessories. James, you see, is a train connoisseur to the point of obsession. And as our sons - ages one and three - grow up, they’re constantly immersed in James’ passion and are already obvious train lovers. (Not that they have any choice.)
It’s no surprise, then, that our family outings often involve train-related activities. This summer we’re planning to visit the new exhibit at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs. The Watson Steam Train and Depot Museum in Missouri Valley and the Milwaukee Railroad Shops Historic District in Sioux City are on our bucket list, too.
But our favorite railroad attraction is the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad, mostly because it’s a short 40-minute drive from our home in Johnston. We travel to Boone several times a year to enjoy A Day Out With Thomas™, the Pumpkin Express and the Santa Express™. Recently, we took the kids for a one-hour journey on the aptly-named Easter Bunny Express. The ride took us over the 156-foot Bass Point Creek High Bridge and offered front-row seats to the beauty of springtime in Iowa. Our conductor announced the precise kind of diesel locomotive that pulled the passenger cars – endearing him to my husband. About halfway through the ride, the Easter Bunny visited our car, giving hugs and high fives to each child and leaving behind a small bag of jelly beans. My three-year-old was beyond delighted!
The Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad offers a variety of train excursions throughout the year for families and adults, including the basic Excursion Train, Valentine Dinner Train, Dinner Train, Dessert Train and much more. Even if your husband isn’t the train aficionado that mine is, I’d encourage your family to hop about the Scenic Line and experience this Iowa tradition. All aboard!
Shawna Lode, Iowa Tourism Office