Iowa Traction Railway

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Coordinates: 43°08′06″N 93°16′48″W / 43.135°N 93.280°W / 43.135; -93.280

Iowa Traction Railway
Network of the IATR and its predecessors
IATR 54 grain train in Mason City.jpg
IATR #54 hauling a train in 2009.
Reporting markIATR
Dates of operation1897 (1897)
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
HeadquartersMason City, Iowa

The Iowa Traction Railway Company (reporting mark IATR), formerly the Iowa Traction Railroad Company, is an electrically operated common carrier railroad running between Mason City and Clear Lake, Iowa, United States, and also serving Rorick Park near Mason City. It can trace its roots back to the Mason City and Clear Lake Railway, which was founded in 1896. The shops were situated in Emery, the midpoint between the two namesake towns. Passenger service began on July 4, 1897. Freight has been the major source of income since the beginning and has been the only source since the charter for trolley service in Mason City expired August 30, 1936. The Mason City and Clear Lake Railway's name was revised slightly to Mason City and Clear Lake Railroad in 1950, when new owners took over.

The name was changed to Iowa Terminal Railroad in 1961 when new owners from Michigan took over. They acquired the Charles City Western on December 31, 1963. The Charles City Division was dieselized after a tornado destroyed much of the overhead wire on May 15, 1968. Several years later the remaining trackage at Charles City was abandoned. Meanwhile, the Mason City Division continued to operate as usual. The Charles City equipment was transferred to Mason City to replace equipment burned in the November 24, 1967 shop fire. On April 13, 1987, the Iowa Terminal Railroad was sold to Dave Johnson and renamed to Iowa Traction Railroad.

Today, the Iowa Traction continues to actively operate the track between its Emery headquarters (southwest of Mason City) and the Clear Lake Junction with Union Pacific Railroad. Though track exists beyond Emery to Interstate 35 in the west and from Clear Lake Junction to 15th Street Southeast in Mason City to the east, the active portion is Emery to Clear Lake Junction.

Purchase by Progressive Rail[edit]

IATR 50 and 54 in Mason City (2009)

The Iowa Traction Railroad was purchased in fall 2012 by Progressive Rail, a shortline holding company based in Lakeville, Minnesota.[1] Upon purchase, the line has been renamed Iowa Traction Railway.[2] According to Progressive's President Dave Fellon, "It's [Iowa Traction] right in our wheel house [and] fits our model. It's a great little railroad." Comments by Progressive Rail officials in Trains Magazine indicate that the company plans to continue use of electric locomotives, possibly supplementing them with diesel, and that it is exploring the reopening of the line from Emery to Clear Lake.[3]


  1. ^ "Progressive Rail acquires Iowa Traction Railroad". October 16, 2012. Retrieved November 13, 2012.
  2. ^ "Freight Tariff IATR 9001" (PDF). Iowa Traction Railway Company. Issued: October 4, 2012 Effective: October 1, 2012. Retrieved July 15, 2013. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ "Progressive Rail to acquire Iowa Traction". Trains Magazine. September 18, 2012. Retrieved November 13, 2012.

External links[edit]