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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Amtrak service in Fort Madison, Iowa, to move to restored 1910 Santa Fe station

Amtrak service in Fort Madison, Iowa, to move to restored 1910 Santa Fe station

By | December 13, 2021

Building to host Southwest Chief stop after 14-year, $4.5 million project

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Man speaking on station platform with train in background
Man speaking on station platform with train in background
Fort Madison, Iowa, Mayor Matt Mohrfeld speaks at a Friday ceremony marking completion of restoration of the city’s 1910 Santa Fe station. (Amtrak/Ed Kim)

FORT MADISON, Iowa — The City of Fort Madison celebrated completion of an almost 14-year effort to restore its downtown passenger station on Friday, Dec. 10, with Southwest Chief service to and from the station to begin this Wednesday, Dec. 15.

Work at the downtown facility, built by Santa Fe in 1910, required raising the building above the Mississippi River floodplain and construction of a platform compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It will return service to downtown for the first time since 1968, when Santa Fe moved passenger service to a structure at its Fort Madison yard, some 1.35 miles away.

In ceremonies Friday, the Chief made a ceremonial stop at the downtown station to allow Fort Madison mayor Matt Mohrfeld and a delegation of city, state, and Amtrak officials to disembark for a ribbon cutting.

“Our station is going to be just beautiful,” Mohrfeld told Tri-States Public Radio. “… When you look at Fort Madison, you stand back, and there’s two things that are obvious. We have a beautiful riverfront and we have beautiful rail access.”

The restored station is located at 810 10th Street in Fort Madison. Santa Fe sold the building to the city for $1 in 1968, and in 1972 it was leased to the North Lee County Historical Society, which houses a museum there. In 2006, work began to restore the station to accommodate an Amtrak waiting room and ticket office. Amtrak’s Great American Stations site says the project included lifting the building off its foundation and construction of a new 5-foot-high concrete base before lowering the structure back into place. The project cost approximately $4.5 million, including federal, state, local, city, BNSF, and Amtrak funding.

People watching ribbon-cutting ceremony
Officials including (from left) Amtrak vice president David Handera, U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, and Mayor Matt Mohrfeld cut a ribbon to mark completion of Fort Madison’s station project. (Amtrak/Ed Kim)

6 thoughts on “Amtrak service in Fort Madison, Iowa, to move to restored 1910 Santa Fe station

  1. I’m sure it’s a beautiful job, and worth doing, but I could probably contract to restore the station and get the job done in less than 14 years, all the while doing the backstroke. Delay might be related to efforts to kill the Chief.

  2. Actually I remember the Fort Madison station from passing it on my first ride on the Amtrak Super Chief El Capitan — fifty years ago next month. Lots of memories from that trip half a century ago and other Amtrak/ Santa Fe rides to follow, all of them good.

    One of the memories was getting to know the amiable Santa Fe station agent at Lamy (New Mexico), maybe the first Mexican American I’d ever met. That was then and this is now. A train pair a day (or even three train pairs a day, as in Michigan) can’t support a station staff, meaning most Amtrak stations in America have all the personal touch and security of a bus stop.

    Even seven train pairs a day. The magnificent new stations on the Hiawatha route are unstaffed: Milwaukee Airport and Sturtevant. Fortunately both attract big crowds of riders so they seem safe. There is something soulless to walk into the beautiful station at Sturtevant and meet a kiosk.

    Do I have a solution? No I don’t but I can call out a problem.

  3. How many trains stops a day? One in each direction or more? Every day? How many riders per day, on average, are expected to embark or disembark? Will the station have a train agent or just ticket machines?

    Do they expect a higher number of passengers now that the stop is back to downtown?

    It really is a pretty station and site.

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