Located at 235 N 7th St, Iron Horse Park has some unique history to share. Before the current Lincoln Station was constructed for Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad in 1927, a railway Express building stood on the site of Iron Horse Park, north of the 1880 depot. A north addition to the train station butted up against the south wall of the Railway Express office, and when the latter was eventually demolished, it exposed a rough north wall of cinder blocks on the depot.
To finish that wall and recreate the little vacant lot as a park, the City of Lincoln commissioned local sculptor Jay Tschetter to sculpt the “Iron Horse Legacy” mural of brick, carved and fired at Lincoln’s Yankee Hill Brickyard. The rest of the park was carefully designed to create a little oasis for sitting, playing on the climbing structure, and viewing the brick mural. The decorative fountain is styled after the trackside water towers that quenched thirsty locomotives in the era of steam.
The steam train adjacent to the park was built in the Burlington Shops of the town of Havelock in 1901. Havelock grew up around the bustling shops, which the town’s developers had courted and won with an offer of free land. Locomotive 710 first served passenger trains, then was retooled as a short-haul locomotive in the 1920s. By the 1950s, the steam era was ending and Burlington refurbished the steam engine and tender as a gift to the City of Lincoln in 1955.
She was displayed on a hilltop in Pioneers Park until she was again refurbished in 1991 and returned to sit on Track One beside Burlington’s depot in the Haymarket. North and west of Iron Horse Park, the former Burlington rail yard has been redeveloped into a modern complement to the historic district, including Pinnacle Bank Arena, completed in 2013. The area includes the arena’s supporting parking garages, and a mix of uses from residences to offices, bars and restaurants, and a hotel.