Growing up on a farm in Anamosa, we didn't do fast food very often. But every time we'd make a trip to the Marion/Cedar Rapids area we'd stop at the Thomas Park McDonald's in Marion. That was the McDonald's of my childhood, and now it is gone forever.

If you hadn't heard, the Marion McDonald's is gone and is being replaced by a new one near the entrance of Lindale Mall just off of First Avenue across from Home Depot. While a new McDonald's is certainly nothing new, closing the Marion location is bringing back a lot of memories for many people including myself. The one thing I remember most about that McDonald's was the electric train in the glass case. You could sit and eat your Happy Meal and watch the train go round and round. I'm not sure what year the train left, but I'm fairly certain it was there for my son Chase when he was old enough to enjoy a Happy Meal.

Facebook via Marion Iowa Reminiscing/Peter D. Looney
Facebook via Marion Iowa Reminiscing/Peter D. Looney

According to the Facebook page Marion, Iowa Reminiscing, the Thomas Park McDonald's stood for over 40 years. Before that, the location was home to an A&W Restaurant, opening in 1949.  It was there for 20 years before being replaced by the golden arches. So what is next for the site? After closing its doors, the restaurant began taking off portions of the roof. According to the Facebook page Cedar Rapids Area Support Local, the chain always does that when a location closes so people don't recognize it as a McDonald's. That same Facebook page also states that per McDonald's rules, no other restaurant can go on that site for 20 years. They also report that the lot is for sale through Skogman Realty for $700,000.

For now, an empty building sits along 7th Avenue in Marion. One that held memories for not only me but countless other families who stopped there for decades. The Thomas Park McDonald's train has left the station for the last time.

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