Tours & Programs
The Union Pacific Railroad Museum offers a wide variety of programs and tours for every age group and interest. All tours and programs require at least two weeks advance notice. Be advised that tours and programs are scheduled on a first-come, first-serve basis, so book early, especially during the peak field trip season in the spring.
The museum is open 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Thursday through Saturday. Tours typically last an hour. Unless special arrangements are made, the last tour of the day should begin by 2:30 p.m.
All groups visiting the museum must be chaperoned by adults over the age of 18 and maintain a 1-10 chaperone/student ratio unless otherwise specified.
Guided Tour Pricing
We accept cash, all major credit cards and checks. Checks should be payable to the Union Pacific Museum Association. Receipts are available upon request.
- Children - $3
- Adults and Chaperones - $5
- Teachers, Escorts or Bus Drivers - Free
Thanks to generous donors, admission scholarships are available to qualified groups. Scholarships are available year round.
Scholarship recipients are required to complete an online survey after their visit. This survey provides us with information about your field trip experience and assists us in continuing to provide exceptional group tours.
- Great Big Rolling Railroad: Have fun on this fast-paced tour while learning about freight trains and passenger trains. Students will engage in several activities such as playing a matching game with rail cars and freight, taking a spin on our very own locomotive simulator and compare and contrast the different types of travel while sitting in real seats from a plane, train and an automobile.
30 - 45 min. Suggested grade: K - 1st grade
- Track Down Lincoln Walking and Museum Tour: Experience Lincoln's 1859 visit as we retrace his footsteps through Council Bluffs' historic downtown. This local history tour will then proceed into the museum where students will discover Union Pacific's own collection of Lincoln artifacts from his Presidential rail car and his Springfield, Illinois, law office. Students will receive their very own colorful Track Down Lincoln map highlighting spots Lincoln visited in Council Bluffs. A great adventure from ages 8-80!
45-60 min. Suggested grades: 2nd-12th
*Chaperone ratio for elementary classes MUST be 1:5 for this tour.*
- Great Plains, Bison and Tank Towns: Students will get excited on this fieldtrip as they compete with real Sioux boneslides and examine authentic bison hide! After a discussion about the Native American tribes and cultural borrowing, students will investigate the changes that took place on the Great Plains with the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, and the impact of Tank Town communities.
45 min. Suggested grades: 2nd-3rd
- Time, Telegraphs, and Trains: What were transportation, time, and communication like before the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad? Learn how railroads created the need for time zones and advances in communication. Compare and contrast the different challenges experienced by the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific as they joined a nation together! Don't forget to make a little noise in the Blow it Up exhibit!
45 min. Suggested grades: 3rd-4th
- Westward by Rail: Explore the technological advances made during the westward expansion of the 19th century and their impact on history of the United States. How did supply and demand influence the settlement of people in the West? What are the economics of railroad building and how do they impact your life today? This tour will answer these questions and more as you explore both floors of the Museum.
45 min. Suggested grades: 5th-8th
- Building America: Bring history to life in your classroom with this 3D presentation! Learn about the building of the Transcontinental Railroad like never before. Students will receive 3D glasses to view the photographs that were taken during the 1860s construction.
50 min. Suggested grades: 3rd-5th, 8th- 12th
- Operation Lifesaver: Safety First means we all know how to act around trains; a lesson crucially important in our area. Have an interactive, grade-specific safety program in your classroom or at the UPRR Museum as part of your field trip. Additional information about Operation Lifesaver and classroom resources can be found at www.oli.org.
30 min. Suggested grades: All
- Architectural Highlights: Learn the history of Council Bluffs's own Carnegie Library including the contributions by Grenville Dodge. From Edison light bulbs to hidden closets, discover something new about this local landmark built in 1904. Become acquainted not only with the history of the building as the Carnegie Library, but also the necessary renovations in converting it to the Union Pacific Railroad Museum. (45 minute museum tour)
- Collection Highlights: Explore the rich history of Union Pacific during this informative tour through both floors of the museum.
- Building America 3D: Bring history to life with this 3D presentation! Participants will receive 3-D glasses to view actual pictures from 19th century stereo cards. During this time period both Union Pacific and Central Pacific leaders realize that photography could be a vital tool to market the Transcontinental Railroad by enticing settlers and investors to the west. In this program you will view scenes from this very popular parlor photography as we explain how the transcontinental railroad was built. This program is also available without the special 3-D images. (30 minute PowerPoint & 30 minute museum tour)
- Dining in Railroad Style: Discover how Union Pacific earned the status of being America's premier passenger railroad. This presentation takes you from UP's famous commissary department to its signature china and menus. See how Union Pacific accomplished the goal of providing the best dining experience as America traveled by rail through images and information taken from the Union Pacific Collection. (30 minute PowerPoint & 30 minute museum tour)
- Presidents Travel by Rail: Explore the rich history of presidential travel by rail. From Abraham Lincoln to George W. Bush presidents have used trains as a platform for campaigns, important business trips and en route to their final resting places. (30 minute PowerPoint & 30 minute museum tour)
- Wartime Railroads: Travel back to a crucial time in railroad history. Find out how and why railroads have been fundamental to war efforts from the Civil War to the current day War on Terrorism. (30 minute PowerPoint & 30 minute self-guided tour)
- Track Down Lincoln: Experience Lincoln's 1859 visit as we retrace his footsteps through historic downtown Council Bluffs pointing out places that he visited. The tour then moves inside the museum where Union Pacific's own collection of artifacts from Lincoln's Presidential rail car and his Springfield, Illinois, law office may be admired. Learn about Lincoln's dream to build a transcontinental railroad and how his visit to Council Bluffs played a role in that project. (30 minute neighborhood tour & 30 minute museum tour)