‘All Aboard: Our Quad City Locomotive Legacy’ exhibit now on display at The Putnam Museum and Science Center

(Courtesy Putnam Museum and Science Center)

The Putnam Museum and Science Center is opening an exhibit on June 22nd which will run through October 13th. It focuses on a cornerstone of the Quad Cities: railroads. 

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

Chris Kastell, the Putnam’s Curator of History and Anthropology said, “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.”

On display are Buddy L trains, Rock Island Line objects, a depot set with historic clothing, and a multitude of artifacts. In partnership with the Heartland Model Railway Club, there is a large model train display featuring many regional names, like Davenport, Rock Island, Barstow, and Burlington. Stories from local rail workers 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: Our Quad City Locomotive Legacy was made possible through generous donations from the Regional Development Authority, Arconic, and Iowa Economic Development. 

From Kelly Lao, the Vice President of Museum Experiences, “​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.”

Additionally, 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. 

About the Putnam

The Putnam Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate, brings to life a sense of place, time and purpose to ignite human potential and inspire our diverse community to learn about and care for our world and all its people. For more than 150 years, guests have experienced the Putnam’s permanent exhibits ranging from Unearthing Ancient Egypt to our family-favorite science galleries, as well as an array of programs and internationally recognized traveling exhibits. The Putnam is dedicated to helping guests discover and explore in a friendly and engaging atmosphere.

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