Riding the Rails: Restoring Passenger Rail Service to Dubuque

by Sara Steuer

Dubuque is a city steeped in heritage. Dotted with historic structures from the Shot Tower and Star Brewery to the charming Victorian homes lining its bluffs, it’s a city that recognizes and honors its past. Revered by many is Dubuque’s long history of train travel.

While notably a means of transporting goods inland from barges traveling the Mississippi River, trains have shaped the lives and livelihoods of residents for over a century, having provided passenger rail service from the 1850s until the early 1980s. In more recent times there was “The Land O’Corn,” a streamlined passenger train operating from 1941 until 1967 by the Illinois Central Railroad between Chicago and Waterloo. More recently the Amtrack Black Hawk Route provided service from Chicago to Dubuque until its discontinuation in 1981, marking the last time commercial passenger rail lines accessed the city.

Ride the Rails, a local advocacy group, is looking to return passenger trains to Dubuque.

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Comments (3)

  1. I would use the train service from Dubuque to Chicago. It would be wonderful.

  2. Awesome idea given the recent news that United airlines is cancelling service for Dubuque. Rail service could help locals get to O’Hare for flights. Or even opt to use rail service period.

  3. Thank you for this story. Hopefully the rail will be completed soon

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