If you like holiday lights and trains – then add the Cannonball 457 to your list of stops!
I was on my way to see the POET Tree in Hanlonton and heard that the Cannonball 457 is also dressed up for the holidays. I think you’ll spend more time at the Hanlontown tree, but the Cannonball 457 is still worth the stop.
It’s a steam locomotive that’s on public display at East Park in Mason City, Iowa. It’s housed under a shelter and protected by a gate. From what I can see online, I believe the gate is closed throughout the winter months, including when it’s decorated for the holidays.
History of the Cannonball 457
The locomotive was built in 1912 and is the last remaining engine from the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway. It was restored back to its appearance from the 1920s.
Sometimes you’ll hear it referred to as the Rotary Cannonball because, in 1959, it was the Mason City Noon Rotary Club that acquired and moved the engine to East Park. Apparently, the number 457 relates t the actual order placed by the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway, they ordered 12 identical steam locomotives and they were numbered 450 through 461, and this happened to be number 457.
However, if you have the chance to visit during the summer and fall months, the gates are open on weekend afternoons to allow you a close-up look at the train as well as a chance to ring the bell and listen to the Nathan 6-chime whistle. During the summer months, you’ll also enjoy the Cannonball Gardens adjacent to the train.