Train Car Museum
The Savanna Train Car Museum, located at the corner of Main Street and Chicago Avenue, is open on weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
The train car is filled with numerous railroad mementos and collectible due to the generosity of numerous former and present Savanna residents.
The project to buy the Hiawatha Passenger Car #541 and restore and preserve it began in July of 1984.
It was purchased from the Milwaukee Railroad Employee’s Credit Union for $3,000. A goal of $10,000 was sent by a small group of interested people who felt it would be an asset to Savanna. The goal was met in May of 1986 and covered the initial cost of getting it in place and open for visitors. It was moved from the Milwaukee Depot location to its present site.
In 1995, the Savanna Train Car Project Committee started efforts to raise $10,000 to build a roof over the train car. They contacted Main Street architect Doug Gilbert who designed the covering to replicate an old train station roof. The project was completed in 1996.
Hiawatha Passenger Car #541 was in general use from about 1950 to 1971 when all passenger service was discontinued on the Milwaukee Road.
At the end of their service years, the Hiawatha cars were stored for a short time and then junked. Museums and collectors were not aware of this fact before many were scrapped. Only 16 Hiawatha cars remain in existence and Savanna has one of them. Car #541 was one of the last passenger coaches built for the Hiawatha Train Service after 1948.
This car was two seats shorter than the previous cars of this type. It has the same vestibules and lounges as the previous Hiawatha cars. Passengers could wash-up and brush their teeth but it was built for short runs and called a “pool car”.
It seated 48 people and the seats tilted back and came equipped with foot rests. #541 is the only passenger car built with attached bulk head seats. It was used on runs from Chicago to Milwaukee or Milwaukee to Minneapolis. The Savanna car was used a pool car from Chicago to Savanna or even to Omaha.
The logos on the inside ends of the are in the paneling was the symbol of the Hiawatha Trains. The Midwest Hiawatha made it first run on Dec. 7, 1940, and made its final run on April 28, 1956. Both runs were made through Savanna.