About the State Historical Society > News > 2011

State Historical Society of Iowa Press Release

For immediate release June 2, 2011

Contact: Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov, (515) 281-3858

“Swing and Sway” into the State Historical Museum June 18

Visit State Historical Building June 20-24 aboard the “Time Travel Trolley”

(DES MOINES) – The State Historical Museum will open “Swing & Sway: Iowa’s Electric Railways” this month, a new exhibit that explores the history of electric railways in Iowa from horse cars to interurban transit systems.

“Swing & Sway” opens June 18, 2011, at the State Historical Museum, 600 E. Locust Street in Des Moines. Hours are 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and noon-4:30 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free and open to the public. Visit www.iowahistory.org for more information.

“Iowa’s connection to electric railways goes back generations, and this exhibit explores its birth, growth and impact on our state,” Department of Cultural Affairs Director Mary Tiffany Cownie said. “I encourage Iowans to come see the exhibit and discover the role the industry had in shaping and defining our communities as we know them today.”

In conjunction with the opening, downtown workers and others can ride the “Time Travel Trolley” (the D-Line Shuttle) June 20-24 to the Historical Building to see the exhibit and enjoy lunch at Café Baratta’s.

More information about the “Swing & Sway” exhibit and “Time Travel Trolley” follows:

Swing & Sway

Prior to the rise of the automobile, Americans used the railroad as a main source of travel. Steam trains used for hauling goods across the country were complemented by electric street railways and interurban lines within city boundaries. Built by local people with local funds, these railways became personalities within the local culture by connecting city neighborhoods to rural communities. As the railway transport system evolved, so did the communities in which they provided service. A more mobile population meant rural farmers could get their produce to market faster; people could live farther from their workplace and enjoy the smooth commute, as opposed to tackling dirt or poorly maintained roads. By the mid-1900s, the automobile became king, roads improved and more were added, and public transportation fell into decline. “Swing & Sway” provides insight to these facets of railway systems in Iowa, as well as where the future lies – light rail systems as a means to a greener community.

“Swing & Sway: Iowa’s Electric Railways” is supported by a BRAVO Cultural Enrichment Grant, Des Moines Streetcar Friends, the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad & Museum and the Gomaco Trolley Company.

Time Travel Trolley

Developed in partnership with the Downtown Community Alliance and DART, the Time Travel Trolley promotion will feature Des Moines musician Frank Strong entertaining D-Line Shuttle riders with guitar and harmonica-infused train songs. The D-Line runs every 10 minutes, providing continuous and fully accessible service between the East Village and Central Campus. The shuttle operates 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday. The D-Line operates on an east-west route on Grand Avenue and Locust Street between the Western Gateway and the East Village. Under the route, the trolley travels to East 6th Street, where the State Historical Building is located.


The State Historical Society of Iowa is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and is a trustee of Iowa’s historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowa’s past. It identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages and provides access to Iowa’s historical resources. Its dual mission of preservation and education serves Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state. Visit www.iowahistory.org or call 515-281-5111 for more information.


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