Service, solutions and sustainability
The award-winning CRANDIC Railway has been a staple of the regional business community for more than a century. We serve some of the largest shippers in east-central Iowa and have the connections to meet your shipping needs.
Safe and efficient
According to the Association of American Railroads, U.S. rail safety is at an all-time high. Rigorous employee training, technology advances, and additional investment on infrastructure and equipment are just a few of the reasons. CRANDIC has directed millions of dollars into training and infrastructure to ensure your product is safely delivered when and where you need it.
The Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway began rail service in August 1904, on a 27-mile route between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City — creating the well-known acronym CRANDIC. Focusing primarily on passenger service, the railroad narrowed its focus to all-freight service 50 years later.
Take a look back at our history.
Construction on the initial Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway line, originally known as the "Interurban," began in 1903.
Formally established under the name Iowa Railway and Light Company, the little railroad eventually became known and nationally recognized as CRANDIC, representing the communities it served: Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.
CRANDIC's original design was for a high-speed 27-mile “interurban” rail system connecting the metropolitan areas of Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.
On August 13, 1904, the first electric cars carrying passengers made their inaugural trip over the Interurban. On the same day, a booster power station was started for the first time. That power station would eventually become the Iowa Electric Power and Light Company, and later into CRANDIC parent company Alliant Energy.
CRANDIC provided both freight and passenger service along its route. A regular schedule began with a two-hour trip between the towns, with a goal of reducing the transit to one hour or less as service became more established.
William D. Middleton Photo
Another asset to the CRANDIC’s popularity was that rail travel provided the convenience and flexibility passengers desired. Many benefited from the CRANDIC's hourly departure from either city, beginning at 5 a.m. and ending at midnight.
No one group characterized the CRANDIC's typical passenger: they came from towns or farms, and included men, women and children of all ages. Children took the train to school on popular cars such as the "Hot Shot," a car that traveled south through North Liberty at 8 a.m. carrying 40-50 students to high school in Iowa City.
Other cars, such as the "Milk Can Special," picked up both milk and students who had missed earlier cars. In a typical day, the train would carry 300 gallons of milk.
Many passengers took the Interurban to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for medical care. Others went to see a show, eat dinner or take a simple tour of the countryside. CRANDIC also provided special trains to events such as Iowa Hawkeye football games and the Iowa Dairy Show.
George Krambles Collection
In 1939, CRANDIC purchased six high-speed cars from the Cincinnati and Lake Erie Railroad. Capable of traveling up to 120 miles per hour, these cars were repainted yellow, refurbished and incorporated into the rest of the passenger fleet.
With a peculiar swaying motion, these fast cars called "Comets," lead to the jingle "Swing and Sway the CRANDIC Way." While passenger service flourished, CRANDIC continued to haul freight such as coal, milk, lumber, grain and grain products.
In 1951, the Iowa City agent reported that CRANDIC hauled an average of 25 carloads of coal to a power plant in Cedar Rapids, and additional cars for the University of Iowa's plant in Iowa City.
Throughout World War II, CRANDIC's ridership rose steadily. For 10 cents, a passenger could travel from Coralville to Iowa City, and for $7, a book of 100 tickets could be purchased. While 13 runs were scheduled, sometimes as many as 16 runs were made.
In 1945, CRANDIC's passenger service reached its peak, carrying a record 573,307 people.
William D. Middleton Photo
The Gazette Photo
The heyday of passenger service would not last long. With the advent of affordable automobiles and a paved highway system, CRANDIC's ridership quickly declined. In 1952, only 188,317 rode the Interurban and only nine round trips were scheduled each day.
The last official run of a CRANDIC passenger train occurred on May 30, 1953. With Engine #119 in the lead, the "Rail Fan Passenger Special" marked the end of the CRANDIC Interurban era.
Ironically, as passenger service declined, freight revenues increased in the same proportions. CRANDIC eventually converted to an all-diesel fleet.
William D. Middleton Photo
From the 1950s-1970s, CRANDIC continued to expand freight service to businesses in the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City corridor.
In the 1980s, CRANDIC acquired the Milwaukee line through Amana, as well as the Rock Island line from Iowa City to Hills. This expansion played a key role in bringing four new major industrial companies to the area in the 1990s.
The Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway and Light Company’s first electric interurban train departed from Cedar Rapids on August 13, 1904. On Saturday, Aug. 14, 2004—nearly one-hundred years to the day it began service—350 employees, retirees, customers and dignitaries gathered at the company's maintenance facility to celebrate the milestone. Those gathered enjoyed entertainment and tours of the facilities and equipment.
To mark the event, a retiree monument was unveiled to recognize the employees who contributed to the company’s longevity and success.
CRANDIC continues to flourish in our second century of service. Since 2005, dozens of major upgrades and investments totaling more than $60 million dollars help ensure our continued success. CRANDIC’s achievements and longevity are owed to our founders, retirees and employees for their dedication and ongoing commitment to excellence.
Here are key events that have made CRANDIC a premier short-line American railroad:
- Summer 1903 — Construction begins between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City
- August 13, 1904 — Interurban freight and passenger service begins on the 27-mile line
- 1907 — Carload freight hauling begins
- 1913- 1914 — Eastbound line constructed to Mount Vernon, then Lisbon
- 1920s — North Liberty students transported via CRANDIC to Iowa City schools
- 1928 — Mount Vernon / Lisbon line discontinued
- 1939 — Six-high speed “vomit comet” cars purchased from the defunct Cincinnati and Lake Erie railroad
- 1945 — Ridership rises to a record 573,300 passengers
- 1953 — Better roads and cars bring about the demise of passenger service
- 1961 — Customers include heavy-equipment manufacturers Link-Belt Speeder and Harnischfeger
- 1968 — Service begins at Corn Sweeteners (now Archer Daniels Midland)
- 1980 — Milwaukee line to Amana, and Rock Island line from Iowa City to Hills purchased
- 1990s — Four new rail customers, including Weyerhaeuser (International Paper), locate in Cedar Rapids
- 1998 — Argus Rail Media selects CRANDIC / Weyerhaeuser Corp. for Win-Win Award
- 2000 — New Smith-Dows classification yard completed west of Edgewood Road
- 2004 — 100 years and going strong
- 2005 — Railway Age Magazine names CRANDIC its short line railroad of the year
- 2005 — State-of-the-art maintenance facility opens at Rockford Road
- June 2008 — Historic flooding destroys Cedar River railroad bridge and causes significant damage to rail infrastructure
- July 2009 — New Cedar River rail bridge completed
- June 2010 — ADM dry-grind ethanol facility opens
- 2011 — West 900 yard expansion featuring two 10,000-ft tracks facilitates interchange with partner railroads
- 2011 — Argus Rail Media selects CRANDIC / Archer Daniels Midland for Win-Win Award
- 2013 — Redesigned MP 15-XD locomotive unveiled
- 2016 — 75-acres adjoining Smith-Dows yard purchased for future development
- 2017 — Major track work begins at 26th St. SW and West 900 yard
- 2019 — CRANDIC expands headquarters at original Rockford Road site