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Current view of the Iowa Falls Union Depot
Courtesy of the Iowa Falls Historic Preservation Commission

The 1902 Iowa Falls Union Depot is a variation of the second generation of passenger depots that the Illinois Central Railroad erected in smaller towns from the 1890s to the 1920s. This period coincides with the heyday of railroading in Iowa, during which the Illinois Central replaced its original wooden two-story depots with more permanent brick buildings. While the depot designs were limited by their functions, as reflected in nearly identical floor plans, they were at the same time tailored to each town's particular needs. The depot's floor plan reveals its origin as a union station, a rare depot type in Iowa along the Illinois Central's Iowa Division rail line. The depot represents the direct association between the Illinois Central and Des Moines, Iowa Falls & Northern Railroads (DMIFN). The DMIFN was organized by E. S. Ellsworth and other prominent Iowa Falls citizens in 1899. During the years that the railroad operated as an independent company (1902-1908) it shared depot facilities with the Illinois Central. In addition to representing the Illinois Central's shift toward brick replacement depots in Iowa during the early 1900s the Iowa Falls depot illustrates the individual history of railroads in Iowa Falls.

Historic view of the Iowa Falls Union Depot
Courtesy of the Iowa Falls Historic Preservation Commission

The design of the depot is stylistically eclectic with Italian Renaissance Revival influences. It is a one-story, four by one-bay, rectangular building, with a pavilion-with-ells plan. Small bay windows mirroring each other project from its north and south sides. The depot foundation is concrete with a partial basement for the boiler under the east end. The walls are brick veneer but 13 inches thick, which suggests masonry construction underneath the veneer. The roof is hipped with the central pavilion higher than the eastern and western ells. Diamond-shaped asphalt shingles and cast concrete copings cover the roof, which also has two interior brick chimneys with stone caps.

The Iowa Falls Union Depot is located at East Rocksylvania Ave. and Depot St. It is currently undergoing a complete restoration and will not be ready for tours until mid-2002. For more information please call the Iowa Falls Historical Society at 641-648-4603.

[graphic] Collage of different scenes from Hardin County
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