Milwaukee Road

An indelible memory from my youth is of the times my mother, brother, and I rode passenger trains from Marion to Perry in the 1960s to visit my grandparents on their farm in Coon Rapids, Iowa. We drove from Manchester to the Marion railroad depot and boarded a train on the Milwaukee Road heading west. Diesel-powered yellow locomotives took us 150 miles to Perry, where relatives picked us up and drove us to the farm outside Coon Rapids.

I spent many languid hours on my grandparents’ farm, amusing myself by secretly feeding the pigs, watching my uncle milk cows, exploring the barn, and keeping my grandfather company as he chain-smoked unfiltered cigarettes. I also ran around with my cousins on my aunt and uncles’ farm nearby, watching sows give birth to piglets in farrowing stalls and sledding wildly downhill in the middle of winter.

When it was time to go, we took the Milwaukee Road home, too. But the heyday of passenger trains in Iowa would soon come to an end. And my grandparents would soon have to leave the farm and move to town.

Marion, Iowa, Milwaukee Road, Railroad Depot