Illinois Railway Museum

The Illinois Railway Museum is the largest railway museum in the United States. It is located in Union, Illinois, about 50 miles northwest of Chicago. The museum is dedicated to preserve and display artifacts related to America’s railroad heritage.

 

History

The museum was founded in 1953 by ten railfans who pooled their resources to purchase an interurban car. The first years were spent operating trolley excursions in the area. In 1963, the museum acquired its first steam locomotive, and soon thereafter began giving rides on a 3-mile (5 km) section of track. The steam operation was eventually expanded to include a 7-mile (11 km) round trip.

Today, the museum has more than 400 pieces of rolling stock, including steam and diesel locomotives, electric locomotives, passenger cars, streetcars, trolleys, cabooses, freight cars, and maintenance-of-way equipment. The museum grounds include about 14 miles (23 km) of track, including a 3-mile (5 km) main line. The main line is used for regular excursion trains operated with both steam and diesel locomotives. The museum also operates a switching yard where trains are turned on a wye and serviced in an original Chicago & Northwestern railroad steam roundhouse built in 1883.

 

Exhibits & Collections

The museum has several indoor exhibits, including a large model railroad display, as well as outdoor exhibits of locomotives and rolling stock. The museum’s collection includes more than 400 pieces of rolling stock, including steam and diesel locomotives, electric locomotives, passenger cars, streetcars, trolleys, cabooses, freight cars, and maintenance-of-way equipment.

 

Operations

The museum is open daily from April through October. Regular excursion trains are operated on the main line using both steam and diesel locomotives. The museum also operates a switching yard where trains are turned on a wye and serviced in an original Chicago & Northwestern railroad steam roundhouse built in 1883.

 

How To Visit

The museum is located in Union, Illinois, about 50 miles northwest of Chicago. It is open daily from April through October. Regular excursion trains are operated on the main line using both steam and diesel locomotives. The museum also operates a switching yard where trains are turned on a wye and serviced in an original Chicago & Northwestern railroad steam roundhouse built in 1883.

In addition to the regular exhibits and train rides, the museum offers a variety of special events and educational programs throughout the year.

 

Information provided by Decked Out Builders.

 

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