Preservation Award Winners

Iowa Traction Receives Preservation Award

Iowa Traction Receives Inaugural NRHS/Railway Age/RT&S Historic Preservation Award.

By William C. Vantuono

 Iowa Traction Railway Roadmaster Mike Rumeliote and former Iowa Traction Railway owner Dave Johnson accepted the award from NRHS representative Mike Yuhas, Railway Age Editor-in-Chief William C. Vantuono, and Railway Track & Structures Editor-in-Chief David C. Lester. Photo by David Lassen.

The National Railway Historical Society, Railway Age and Railway Track & Structures presented Class III Iowa Traction Railway with the inaugural “Outstanding Railroad Historic Preservation Award,” the intent of which is “to honor and recognize a North American common-carrier railroad for a historically significant preservation project.” Iowa Traction was one of five finalists; the award was presented in front of an audience of railroad industry professionals at the Railway Interchange trade show in Indianapolis, October 2, 2023.

Iowa Traction Roadmaster Mike Rumeliote and the railroad’s former owner Dave Johnson accepted the award from NRHS representative Mike Yuhas, and William C. Vantuono and David C. Lester, chief editors, respectively, of Railway Age and RT&S.

Iowa Traction Railway, a subsidiary of Progressive Rail Inc., is the last functional interurban freight railroad in North America. Its rolling stock continues to function for its original purpose: moving freight to customers. All its interurban electric locomotives are more than 100 years old, and while not restored, are repaired and maintained in a manner consistent with their original construction. Erection and maintenance of the overhead electrical distribution system is contemporary with the era of the rolling stock. Interchanging with Union Pacific and CPKC (Canadian Pacific Kansas City), this functional example of century-old technology continues to effectively and efficiently serve the needs of 21st century customers and shippers. Operating alongside public roads and through many locations visible to the public, the Iowa Traction provides an education in early 20th century electric railroading, providing many lessons to current generations.

Iowa Traction 50, a Baldwin steeplecab built in 1920, rests between assignments at an agribusiness in Mason City, Iowa. Photo by Mike Yuhas.

The NRHS Preservation Award Committee is R. Victor Varney, Edward M. Berntsen, Tony White and Mike Yuhas.