Iowa City Public Library DHP
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Railroad Arrives

a Pelzer, Mildred Railroad Arrives Longfellow School 10-27-08 full image c.jpg

One of eight murals created in 1934 by Mildred Pelzer that depict historic scenes of Iowa City. The paintings were commissioned by the Jefferson Hotel and graced the lobby of the hotel located on the corner of Washington and Dubuque streets for many years before they were removed for renovation and never put back up.

“Railroad Arrives” is the seventh mural in the series and depicts the January 1, 1856 completion of a railroad connection between the Mississippi River and Iowa City as reported in Bob Hibbs's "Historic Scenes by Mildred Pelzer 1934." The story behind the event depicted adds high drama to the scene as described in the dedication brochure: “’The Railroad Comes to Iowa City’ is an animated scene in a temperature of -25 degrees. The road was to receive a bonus of $50,000 if it could be brought to the Iowa City depot on or before January 1, 1956. On New Year’s Eve the engine was still a thousand feet from the goal. Peter A. Dey and LeGrand Byington are urging the men to win the bonus. With only a few hours left, the engine froze up and was then pushed and pried on the track to the depot. The bells of the city pealed triumphantly.”

The painting is temporarily on display (May 2017-August 2018) at the Iowa City Public Library while its permanent home, Longfellow Elementary School, is undergoing renovation.

The painting is “oil on canvas” and measures approximately four feet high by twelve feet wide.

This digital photograph of the painting was taken by Cheryll Clamon.


Lynch, Mildred Weenink Pelzer , “Railroad Arrives,” Iowa City Public Library DHP, accessed December 7, 2023,