Charles City resident vows to match up to $100,000 to help ‘Save the Depot’

The last time a train used the Milwaukee Railroad Depot was in 1960 – but anyone in Charles City who grew up using the historical building remember it fondly and connect it with powerful memories. 

One of these people is longtime Charles City Resident James F. Smith who has reportedly pledged $100,000 in matching dollars to help save the depot from its possible demolition. 

American Passenger Train History Museum (APTHM) President Robert Moen says with Smith’s promised donation, they could officially save the depot.

Smith’s potential donation will go towards the ‘Save the Depot’ project that involves moving the building a couple of blocks south and connecting it to both the future APTHM and the bike trail to be used as a trailhead for a city expansion.

Former City Attorney and James’s son Ralph Smith explains why his father made his generous donation.

Moen says a lot of donations for the depot have come from residents who grew up in Charles City back in the 1950s. 

With Smith’s donation, the depot is as close as it’s ever been to being saved. Moen says if the pieces all come together, the APTHM and the depot will work hand-in-hand.

Donations can be made via PayPal at or by check to the museum at PO Box 683, Charles City, IA 50616.


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