The railroad and Burlington have a long history together. The first rail line, the Burlington and Missouri River RR was incorporated in 1852. Three years later, the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy (CBQ) from Chicago reached East Burlington. In 1887, George Westinghouse perfected the air brake on West Burlington Hill. In 1930, the CBQ purchased twelve steam locomotives. The steam engine on display, known as CBQ S4: #3003, pulled passenger trains. One of the S4 engines, pulling ten passenger cars, was clocked at 112 mph. The 95 foot long engine weighs 391,880 lbs. and could carry 24 tons of coal and 15,000 gallons of water for powering the engine.
After the fire destroyed the earlier Victorian style station, the CBQ built the current depot in 1944. The new depot represented modern concepts and received recognition as a prototype for post-World War II railroad station design.
The CBQ donated #3003 to the City of Burlington in 1961. It was refurbished and rededicated in 1991.