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Jan. 13, 2004

For more information contact:
Peggy Baer

Retired rail line to help build Iowa’s ethanol future

AMES, Iowa – A $72,692 rail assistance grant to Pine Lake Corn Processors of Eldora was approved today by the Iowa Transportation Commission. The money will aid in the restoration of a seven-mile section of the abandoned rail line running between Ackley and Steamboat Rock. Total rail line restoration is estimated to cost over $900,000.

Pine Lake Corn Processor’s new 7.5-million-bushel-per-year ethanol plant, which is currently under construction, is located adjacent to new U.S. 20 five miles north of Steamboat Rock. Processed ethanol and distillers grain from the plant will be shipped via the restored rail line to markets on both the east and west coasts. The 20-million-gallon-per-year plant will employ 30 people and provide a ready market for local grain.

The line was first put into service in 1868 to transport coal from mines north of Eldora to the then Dubuque & Sioux City Railroad in Ackley.  The Chicago and North Western (CNW), the last operating owner, abandoned the line in 1989. A group of area shippers organized the North Central Railway Association (NCRA) and purchased the section of CNW track between Hampton and Steamboat Rock. The portion of the line that is to be rehabilitated in this project was “rail banked” by the NCRA at that time - meaning that the line was kept intact for future use, even though trains were not operating on it.

When returned to service this line will supply freight transportation for locally produced commodities and provide economic advantage for the area, as it did in the 1870s.