THE HISTORIC SANTA FE DEPOT BEGAN WELCOMING AMTRAK PASSENGERS AGAIN ON DECEMBER 10, 2021!
Virtual Railfan is the premiere provider of LIVE train cams from some of the busiest spots on earth. Their camera network captures hundreds of trains per day from all over the world but our Fort Madison cam is one of their most popular sites. We have had over 24 million views since the camera went up on June 28, 2020 with many of the viewers coming to stay at the Kingsley Inn! We give a 10% discount to guests that mention they came to us because of VR. Come to Fort Madison and watch up to 80 trains pass by daily at the depot complex which is only 3 blocks away!
You can watch our railcam on the Youtube link on our home page!
The Historic Santa Fe Depot Complex is located just 3 blocks away from the Kingsley Inn at 10th & Avenue H in downtown Ft. Madison. It is the only Mission Style Depot in the state of Iowa and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Other must see locations for the train enthusiasts are:
- North Lee County Historical Society: Located in the Old Santa Fe Depot Complex between downtown Fort Madison and the Mississippi River. Staffed by dedicated volunteers, NLCHS is an active non-profit corporation dedicated to the preservation of the history of area, including historic buildings, documents, artifacts, and photographs. The museums offer tours of their displays, tourist information for the city, region and state, and curate both the Old Lee County Jail, and Brush College, a one-room schoolhouse north of town. The museums are open 360 days a year. Admission is free with donations and/or memberships greatly appreciated.
- Santa Fe Caboose #235: Includes the brakemen seats, conductor's desk, folding seat/beds, and a cast iron stove. Adults and children both enjoy climbing into the caboose for a closer look!
- Amtrak: Ft. Madison is the only rest stop on the Southwest Chief route from Chicago to Kansas City. This is also where the train crosses the Mississippi River on a double deck bridge!
- Ft. Madison BNSF Bridge: The current bridge was opened for traffic in July 1927 and is considered the longest double deck swing-span bridge in the world! Vehicles travel on the top while trains pass below. The 525 foot swing span opens roughly 2,000 times annually with the average opening lasting 15-20 minutes.
- Covered walkway bridge: Walk above the passing rail traffic from the Santa Fe Depot Complex to Ft. Madison's Riverview park!
- Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Steam Engine 2913: This 708,000 pound engine is located in Riverview Park and was a gift to the City of Fort Madison from the AT&SF Railway on the 72nd anniversary of the Santa Fe's first through train to Chicago from Kansas City.
- TIP: Rooms 302 and 303 has perfect views of the BNSF Bridge, Engine 2913, Riverview Park and the Mississippi River!
The Fort Madison Toll Bridge is a tolled, swinging truss bridge over the Mississippi River that connects Fort Madison, Iowa, and unincorporated Niota, Illinois. Rail traffic occupies the lower deck of the bridge, while two lanes of road traffic occupy the upper deck.
The Mississippi River Bridge is notable not only for its overall length of 1,675 feet, but because its 525-foot electrified swing span was the longest and heaviest in the country at the time it was built. The swing span is used to allow river traffic to pass through the bridge, the process of which fascinates on-lookers from the river bank. Excluding damage incurred by river traffic and regular maintenance-related repairs, the Mississippi River Bridge has functioned as a toll bridge in essentially unaltered condition since 1927.
Past visiting train fans recommend bringing these items:
- Camera & Batteries
- Sunglasses and Glass Wipes
- Cell Phone and Charger
- Lawn Chair
- Cooler, Drinks, Koozies & Snacks
- Comfortable Shoes
- Money to buy your VRF Cap (2 styles) at the Kingsley Inn Front Desk