Midwest Electric Railway

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Midwest Electric Railway
Reporting markMERA[1][nb 1]
LocaleMt. Pleasant, Henry County, Eastern Iowa
Dates of operation19xx (19xx)–Present
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length2.5 mi (4.0 km)
HeadquartersMt. Pleasant, Iowa

The Midwest Electric Railway (initialized MERA, reporting mark MERA[1][nb 1]) is a non-profit trolley operation located on the grounds of the Midwest Old Threshers Reunion in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. It is home to 10 pieces of trolley history that are regularly operated on a 2.5 mile loop surrounding the organization's campgrounds.


The volunteer association runs a tourist railroad which operates electric trolleys around a 2.5 mile loop around the Midwest Old Threshers Reunion campground. Guest prices and hours of operation vary throughout the year based on the activities of the Midwest Old Threshers Association. The trolley operation is most active on the five days preceding Labor Day during the reunion. The trolleys operate on special holidays and when special organized groups reserve time. Visit the Old Threshers Reunion website for the latest information.

The campground's trolley tracks were originally constructed by the Midwest Electric Railway's volunteers and are still maintained today through volunteer efforts. Every year maintenance and reconstruction is organized and accomplished entirely through volunteer labor.


The Midwest Electric Railway is located in the heart of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa on the campgrounds of the Midwest Old Thresher's Reunion sandwiched between Locust and S. Walnut Streets. The railroad crosses E. Thresher Road in two places. The main headquarters for MERA and trolley storage is in a silver-painted trolley barn which is located on S. Locust Road less than a half mile from south of Thresher Road.


The Midwest Electric Railway, a not-for-profit educational organization, was founded in 19xx . Its goal at that time was to preserve historic electric-powered passenger trolleys that had operated in Iowa and transport passengers around the campground during the Midwest Old Thresher's Reunion. The original trolley stops were the trolley depot, the trolley barn, and campers' gate.

Today, the purpose of the organization remains largely the same including the preservation of non-Iowa operated electric rolling stock. Trolley Stops currently include The Trolley Depot, the Trolley Barn, the Log Village, Lakeview, South 40, and Campers' Gate.



  • Streetcar #381

Usage: City Streetcar/One-man Safety Car Circa 1930s – 1950s Operated: Knoxville, Tennessee; later Waterloo, Iowa From: Waterloo, Cedar Falls and Northern Railroad Builder: Perley Thomas, 1930 Notes: Last streetcar to run in an Iowa municipality; The “Safety Car”, a landmark design which eliminated all boarding and alighting mishaps as doors were open only when the car was stopped. Improved safety in one-man operation. A landmark design in which boarding and alighting mishaps were eliminated, since doors opened only when car was stopped and car could not start until doors closed

  • Streetcar #1945

Usage: Lightweight City Car/One-man Safety Car Circa 1920s Operated: Milan, Italy From: Azienda Trasporti Municipale, Milan, Italy Builder: Carminati & Toselli, Milan, 1927; Running gear by Italian General Electric Notes: Lightweight for fast city service in narrow streets; Lightweight safety car: doors only open when stopped

  • Streetcars #1718 and #1779

Usage: City & Interurban, Open Cars/Open Bench Summer Cars Circa 1888-1940s Operated: From: Rio De Janeiro Tramway Builder: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, 1911 using the American design of J.G. Brill Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Running gear by Westinghouse Electric Co. Notes: Thousands of streetcars in America were of this patented “Naragansett” design, featuring a full-length upper side step for easy boarding; Favorites for summer travel

  • Streetcar #9

Usage: Suburban Passenger Service/Express Car Circa 1910s Operated: between Centerville, Albia, and Mystic, Iowa From: Southern Iowa Railway, Centerville, Iowa Builder: Barber Car Co., York, Pennsylvania, 1912 as a 4-wheel car (original); Southern Iowa Railway to an 8-wheel car (rebuilt) Notes: Street and intercity service; 4 wheels = rough riding

  • Streetcar #320

Usage: High-speed Heavy Interurban Car/Intercity and commuter travel Circa 1910s – 1940s Operated: Southern Iowa Railway From: Chicago Aurora and Elgin Railroad Builder: Jewett Car Company, Newark, Ohio, 1914 Notes: Heavyweight for high-speed long-distance travel (up to 80 MPH)


The Chicago Burlington and Quincy depot from Yarmouth, Iowa, was donated and moved to Old Thresher's fairgrounds; it was originally used as the trolley ticket office and gift shop. The building is currently used for storage and the aesthetic appearance of having an old building near a trolley stop.

The Trolley Barn was built in the early 1970s to store the growing stock of equipment. While the building has no real antique value, it provides a well-used maintenance pit for trolley maintenance, room for trolley storage, and a health & welfare room for volunteer operators and conductors.

Special events[edit]

Midwest Old Thresher's Reunion[edit]

Every year during the week leading up to Labor Day weekend, volunteer operators and conductors regularly operate the trolleys to ferry campground dwellers and rail enthusiasts around the 2.5 mile campground loop. The Log Village at the south end of the loop provides the tourist a view of 19th century life on the Iowa prairie. Camper's use the trolley's to commute to the main fairgrounds to visit daily attractions.

Haunted Trolley Ride[edit]

Every year near Halloween, the Midwest Electric Railway operates a haunted trolley ride.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b , Illinois Railroad Information System, Department of Transportation (ILDOT) – Association of American Railroads Alpha Codes; pp. 158–159, C-2 Missing or empty |title= (help)
  1. ^ a b Direct sources from the AAR/NMFTA cannot be publicly accessed/located, although such markings have been second-handedly verified via the FRA, ILDOT, and visual wise; however, these marks may be considered expired, reassigned, or unofficial as of 2009.

External links[edit]

External images
RailPictures.Net – Search for Midwest Electric Railway photographs at RailPictures.Net.
RR Picture Archive – Search for Midwest Electric Railway photographs at RRPictureArchives.net.

Coordinates: 40°57′15″N 91°32′50″W / 40.9541°N 91.5472°W / 40.9541; -91.5472