Putnam urges visitors to get aboard QC Locomotive Legacy

The Putnam Museum and Science Center opened its All Aboard: Our Quad City Locomotive Legacy exhibit on Saturday, June 22.

The Putnam Museum and Science Center opened its All Aboard: Our Quad City Locomotive Legacy exhibit on Saturday, June 22. 

The focus of the exhibit, which will run through Oct. 13, is what the museum calls a cornerstone of the Quad Cities: railroads. 

All Aboard: Our Quad City Locomotive Legacy also “arrives right on time for Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s announced transportation plan, which includes $225 million to re-establish passenger train service between Moline and Chicago, the museum said in a news release. “The exhibit brings an expansive look into railways while centering the conversation around our unique history.”

The Putnam’s Curator of History and Anthropology Chris Kastell added “The exhibit tells the story of the important impacts that railroads have had on QC culture and stability. From inviting immigration to building the first U.S. railroad bridge across the Mississippi River, railroads have brought diversity and vitality to our area.”

Museumgoers will find Buddy L trains, Rock Island Line objects, a depot set with historic clothing, and many other artifacts. 

Also, in partnership with the Heartland Model Railway Club, there is a large model train display featuring such regional names as Davenport, Rock Island, Barstow and Burlington. Stories from local rail workers also will be accessible.

In addition to the curatorial staff’s panels, there are loaned panels titled “Wheels of War & Move Over Sir! Women Working on the Railroad,” produced by the Union Pacific Railroad Museum. Interactives include railroad bridge building, a hand cart station, and a ‘Hobo’ Code guessing game. 

All Aboard was made possible through donations from the Regional Development Authority, Arconic, and Iowa Economic Development Authority. 

Kelly Lao, the vice president of Museum Experiences, said the “​All Aboard brings forth our rich rail legacy while focusing on workers and looking to the future of trains. We are excited to see the railroad industry developments in our region as we celebrate its past.”

In addition, the documentary “Train Time” will be playing in the GIANT Screen Theater for the duration of All Aboard, alongside the Putnam’s usual movie roster. The film follows a BNSF engine across sweeping American landscapes while touching on all aspects of rail careers, including engineers, conductors, logistic specialists and service workers. 

Guests of the Putnam Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate, have for more than 150 years, experienced the Putnam’s permanent exhibits ranging from Unearthing Ancient Egypt to its family-favorite science galleries, as well as an array of programs and internationally recognized traveling exhibits. 

For more information about events and exhibits, visit putnam.org.

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