Street Address
200 Pearl Street
Council Bluffs, IA 51503
Mailing Address
200 Pearl Street
Council Bluffs, IA 51503
phone: 712-329-8307
Tuesday - Saturday10 AM - 4 PM
Sunday - Mondayclosed
Free. Donations Accepted.
Museum Type(s)
Gift Shop
Group Tours
Patricia Labounty, Museum and Collections Manager
Abby Cape, Collections and Development Coordinator
Alison Freemyer, Communications Specialist
Bruce Bianchetta, Facility and Operations Coordinator


The Union Pacific Railroad Museum's collection is one of the oldest corporate collections in the nation. The museum is housed in a historic Carnegie Library building in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where visitors discover an extensive collection of artifacts, photographs, documents and equipment from one of our nation's most ambitious endeavors: constructing the transcontinental railroad and settling the West.


The museum's mission is to educate the public about the past, present and future of America's largest railroad. To accomplish this mission, the museum will collect, research, and preserve a large collection of photographs, archives and artifacts relating to the railroad industry and the Union Pacific Railroad.


At the turn of the 20th century, a group of Council Bluffs men and women dedicated to establishing the City's first free public library were able to do so with a bequest from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The library opened to the public on Aug. 15, 1905. As the 21st century approached, the library moved into a new facility, and the challenge went out to raise funds to restore the Carnegie building and establish a home for Union Pacific's historical collection.

In an unusual partnership of local government, private business and concerned citizens, the city, the Friends of the Carnegie Cultural Museum and Union Pacific joined forces to create the Union Pacific Railroad Museum. A unique arrangement was established where the City leases the building to Union Pacific and Union Pacific pays the museum's general operating expenses. The Friends of the Museum raised the original construction and renovation funds, and currently supplies museum volunteers, and finances the maintenance of, and upgrades to, the museum's extensive exhibits. The Union Pacific Railroad Museum was formally opened on May 10, 2003, the one hundred thirty-fourth anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad.

The restoration of the historic Carnegie Library and the development of the Union Pacific Railroad Museum created a tourist destination in the heart of the Council Bluffs historic district and preserves an important part of the city's rich heritage.

Artifacts Collections

Union Pacific's Lincoln Collection encompasses artifacts from the 16th president's life and death, including furniture from his rail car, photographs, lithographs, busts, fabrics and medallions.

In the "Building America" exhibit, the museum displays the Arizona Spike, one of the ceremonial spikes used during the celebration of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in Promontory Summit, Utah. In addition to the spike, this exhibit features 64 stereographic images from the building of the transcontinental railroad.

The "America Travels by Rail" exhibit features a range of multimedia, including mural-size photographs of UP ticket offices and celebrities traveling by rail; video, with footage including black and white and color films of the dedication of the Golden Spike in 1939; and detailed cutaways of coach, lounge and dining rail cars.

Research Collections

The Union Pacific Railroad Museum provides limited access to the Union Pacific Historical Collection for those conducting research under the auspices of an established institution or publisher. The Museum places priority on requests from institutions such as the National Park Service or other established Museums and partner publications such as THE STREAMLINER and TRAINS magazines and authors submitting for them. The Museum does not have the staff and resources to assist with personal and private research of any kind.

Educational Programs

The Union Pacific Railroad Museum offers a wide variety of programs and tours for every age group and interest. All tours and programs require at least two weeks advance notice. Be advised that tours and programs are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis, so book early, especially during the peak field trip season in the Spring. For a complete list of available tours, please visit the "Activities and Events" section on


    The Friends of the Union Pacific Railroad Museum is a non-profit 501(c) organization whose mission is to provide financial and volunteer support for the museum. The Friends have a Board of Directors which represents the community at large and provides input for the daily operation and management of the museum. The Friends are funded by gift shop sales, daily donations, memberships, special events and grants. They provide the financial resources for all permanent and special exhibits, advertising, outreach programs and the volunteer corps which serves at the museum.


    Access: Scholars, Staff Only

    Appointment required: Yes


    The Union Pacific Railroad Museum publishes a quarterly newsletter.

    • The Golden Spike


    All floors of the Union Pacific Railroad Museum are ADA compliant and fully handicap accessible.

    Wheelchair Accessible




    Gift Shop

    Group Tours