Illinois Railway Museum
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The Illinois Railway Museum (IRM, reporting mark IRMX) is the largest railroad museum in the United States. It is located in the Chicagoland metropolitan area at 7000 Olson Road in Union, Illinois, 55 miles (89 km) northwest of downtown Chicago.
|Illinois Railway Museum|
An aerial overview of the museum.
|Connections||Union Pacific Railroad|
|Built by||Elgin and Belvidere Electric Company|
|Original gauge||4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
Streetcar loop: 5
|Length||4.6 mi (7.4 km)|
|Preserved gauge||4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
|1953||Opened as the Illinois Electric Railway Museum|
|1956||Elgin and Belvidere Electric Company right-of-way acquired|
|1961||Current name adopted|
|1966||Illinois Terminal Railroad interurban car 415 first operated|
|1967||First steam locomotive operated|
|1971||First storage barn erected|
|1981||Streetcar loop constructed|
|Late 1980s/early 1990s||Railroad line built|
The museum was founded in 1953 by ten people who joined together to purchase Indiana Railroad interurban car 65. Originally called the Illinois Electric Railway Museum, the museum was renamed in 1961 to reflect its expanding scope. Initially located on the grounds of the Chicago Hardware Foundry in North Chicago, Illinois, the museum's entire collection was moved in 1964 to Union along the former right-of-way of the Elgin and Belvidere Electric Company. Two years later, operations began using Illinois Terminal Railroad interurban car 415; in 1967, the first steam locomotive was operated. The first storage barn was erected in 1971. In 1981, a one-mile (1.6 km) streetcar loop was constructed. A 4.6-mile (7.4 km) railroad line was built during the 1980s and early 1990s.
The museum's operations are primarily concentrated around its main campus just east of Union. Train rides are offered on the main line as well as the streetcar loop. Electric trains are operated from April through October and diesel and steam trains from the beginning of May through the end of September. Trolleybus operation occurs on the Saturdays of the Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day weekends, as well as on "Bus Day"; the last Saturday in September or the first Saturday in October. IRM is one of only two railway museums in the country that operates both electric and diesel trains, and the only one to offer trolleybus rides on a regular basis.
Equipment and structuresEdit
Museum site & structuresEdit
The Illinois Railway Museum property covers more than 80 acres (32 ha), the most extensive physical plant of any rail museum in North America. In 2009, the museum bought another 89 acres (36 ha) of adjacent land as a buffer against development. The main campus is located at . In addition to the museum's revenue trackage, the main campus in Union includes:
- 11 equipment storage barns with a total of 3.25 miles (5.23 km) of track under cover
- Two additional garages housing trolleybuses and motor buses
- A dedicated steam restoration shop
- A former Chicago and North Western railway depot from Marengo, Illinois, built in 1851
- A complete Chicago Rapid Transit Company ground-level station (50th Avenue station, closed by CTA in 1978)
- Five streetcar stations of varying design
- Several restored and functional neon signs and concrete entablatures on display
- An indoor dining facility built in 2003 (open seasonally)
- The Multi-purpose Building completed in 2021 housing the Model Railroad Display, the Revolving Exhibit Gallery and the Milwaukee Road Historic Association.
- A 130-foot (40 m) turntable from the Union Pacific Railroad's Burnham Shops
- 7 railroad crossings, with 5 wigwags. Two of the 5 wigwags are upper-quadrant wigwags from the Magnetic Signal Company, one from the Union Switch & Signal, and the other two are lower quadrant wigwag from the Western Railroad Supply Company. The other two crossings are from the Griswold Signal Company.
|Operating Steam and Diesel Locomotives|
|Chicago Burlington & Quincy 9911A Silver Pilot||EMD E5||Diesel Locomotive||Electro-Motive||1940||Operational||Chicago Burlington And Quincy||The only surviving EMD E5 and often paired with the Nebraska Zephyr.|
|Chicago And North Western 411||EMD F7A||Diesel Locomotive||Electro-Motive||1949||Operational||Metra||Ex Metra 305|
|Frisco 1630||2-10-0 Decapod||Steam Locomotive||Baldwin Locomotive Works||1918||Operational||Eagle-Picher Ore Mine||Often used on coach trains out of East Union Station.|
|Illinois Central 201||2-4-4T||Steam Locomotive||1880||Static display||Private owner|
|J. Neils Lumber Co. No. 5||3 Truck Shay||Steam
|Lima Locomotive Works||1929||Operational||J. Neils Lumber Co.||Previously woodfired and converted to run on coal.|
|Metra 308||EMD F7A||Diesel Locomotive||Electro-Motive||1949||Operational||Metra||As of 2020 still in original Metra paint scheme.|
|Milwaukee Road 118C||EMD F7A||Diesel Locomotive||Electro-Motive||1951||Operational||Milwaukee Road|
|Union Pacific 428||2-8-0 Consolidation||Steam
|Baldwin Locomotive Works||1900||Under Restoration||Union Pacific||Arrived in 1969, currently under restoration.|
|Burlington Northern 1||EMD F9A||Diesel Locomotive||Electro-Motive||1954||Operational||Burlington Northern||Built as Northern Pacific 6700A|
|Burlington Northern 2||EMD F9B||Diesel Locomotive||Electro-Motive Corporation||1954||Operational||Burlington Northern||Built as Northern Pacific 7002C|
|Burlington Northern 3||EMD E9A||Diesel Locomotive||Electro-Motive Corporation||1956||Operational||Burlington Northern||Formerly Burlington Northern 9919|
|Wisconsin & Southern 102||EMD E9B||Diesel Locomotive||Electro-Motive Corporation||1955||Operational||Wisconsin Southern||Formerly Union Pacific 467|
|Chicago And North Western 6847||EMD SD40-2||Diesel Locomotive||Electro-Motive Corporation||1976||Operational||Union Pacific||Formerly Union Pacific 3028|
|Santa Fe 92||EMD FP45||Diesel Locomotive||Electro-Motive Corporation||1967||Operational||Santa Fe||Built as Santa Fe 102|
|Rock Island 4506||EMD GP7R||Diesel Locomotive||Electro-Motive Corporation||1952||Operational||Chicago And North Western||Ran as Chicago And North Western 4160 until restoration back into Rock Island Paint.|
|Illinois Terminal 1605||EMD GP7||Diesel Locomotive||Electro-Motive Corporation||1953||Operational||Illinois Terminal Railroad||Formerly Norfolk & Western 3406|
|Chicago Burlington & Quincy 504||EMD SD24||Diesel Locomotive||Electro-Motive Corporation||1959||Operational||Burlington Northern||Formerly Burlington Northern 6244|
|Southern Pacific 1518||EMD SD7||Diesel Locomotive||Electro-Motive Corporation||1951||Operational||Southern Pacific||First SD7 Built|
|Wisconsin Central 7525||EMD SD45||Diesel Locomotive||Electro-Motive Corporation||1971||Operational||Wisconsin Central||Has Operation Life Saver paint scheme applied.|
|Chicago Burlington & Quincy 9255||EMD SW-7||Diesel Locomotive||Electro-Motive Corporation||1950||Operational||Burlington Northern||Formerly Burlington Northern 121|
|Commonwealth Edison 15||EMD SW-1||Diesel Locomotive||Electro-Motive Corporation||1950||Operational||Midwest Generation LLC||Often seen on the Caboose Train|
|Minnesota Transfer Railway 200||Alco RS3||Diesel Locomotive||American Locomotive Company||1951||Operational||Minnesota Transfer Railway||Used for the take the Throttle Event at Diesel Days 2019|
|Green Bay & Western 2407||Alco RSD15||Diesel Locomotive||American Locomotive Company||1960||Operational||Green Bay & Western||Formerly Santa Fe 841|
|Chicago And North Western 1689||Alco RSD5||Diesel Locomotive||American Locomotive Company||1954||Operational||Chicago And North Western||Formerly J.K. Line Incorporated 1689|
|Milwaukee Road 760||FM H10-44||Diesel Locomotive||Fairbanks-Morse||1944||Operational||Milwaukee Road||First Diesel built by Fairbanks - Morse|
|TTI 260||GE U28B||Diesel Locomotive||GE Transportation||1967||Operational||Transkentucky Transportation||Formerly Chicago Burlington & Quincy 114|
|Burlington Northern 5383||GE U30C||Diesel Locomotive||GE Transportation||1974||Operational||Burlington Northern||Repainted In 2006|
|Union Pacific 1848||GE Dash 8-40B||Diesel Locomotive||GE Transportation||1988||Operational||Union Pacific||Formerly Cotton Belt 8049, second B40-8 restored|
|EMD GP9||Diesel Locomotive||Electro-Motive Corporation||1957||Operational||MBTA||Formerly GTW and SEMTA|
|ALCO S1||Diesel Locomotive||American Locomotive Company||1947||Operational||Nekoosa
|Ex-South Omaha Terminal|
|Union Pacific 18||Union Pacific GTEL||Diesel Locomotive|
Among the locomotives preserved at IRM are:
- Amtrak 945: EMD AEM-7
- Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe 2903: 4-8-4 "Northern" type steam locomotive
- Burlington Northern 5383: GE U30C
- Chicago, Burlington and Quincy 114: Only GE U28B in preservation, and the only one in its original shape
- Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy 504: One of two EMD SD24s in preservation
- Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy 9911A "Silver Pilot": The only surviving EMD E5
- Chicago and North Western 1518: First EMD GP7 ever built
- Chicago and North Western 411: EMD F7
- Chicago and North Western 6847: EMD SD40-2 restored from Union Pacific
- Chicago South Shore and South Bend 803: 2-D+D-2 "Little Joe", the only operational "800 Class", only run during special occasions
- Conrail 4601: One of only two GE E33s known to exist, bought in 2015 from RMNE
- Grand Trunk Western 6323: Class U-3 4-8-4 "Northern" type locomotive, the last GTW steam locomotive to run on GTW rails
- Illinois Central 3719: The railroad's only surviving 2-6-0
- J. Neils Lumber Co. 5: Three-truck Shay locomotive, restored to operating condition in 2018
- Metra 308: EMD F7
- Milwaukee Road 265: 4-8-4 "Northern" type steam locomotive, sister to 261
- Minneapolis, Northfield and Southern 21: Only existing Baldwin DT-6-6-2000 road switcher
- Morristown and Erie 18: ALCO C424, Ex-TPW 800
- Norfolk and Western 2050: 1923 ALCO Richmond-class Y3a 2-8-8-2 "Mallet" type steam locomotive
- Pennsylvania Railroad 4927: GG-1
- St. Louis–San Francisco Railway 1630: 2-10-0 "Decapod" type steam locomotive, operational since 2013
- Southern Pacific 1518: First EMD SD7 built, operational
- Texas and New Orleans/Southern Pacific 975: One of two surviving SP 2-10-2s
- Union Pacific 6930: EMD DDA40X
Other equipment includes:
- Toronto Transit Commission CLRV #4034, the newest in the museum's streetcar collection. The streetcar is being regauged (truck exchange or Wheelset exchange) from TTC gauge (4 ft 10+7⁄8 in / 1,495 mm) to operate on IRM's 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge trackage.
- Nebraska Zephyr: Streamlined Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad passenger train
- North Shore Line Electroliner trainset: One of only two built, under restoration
- Two New York City Transit Authority IRT Division R28 Series subway cars from 1960 (numbers 7926–7927): Built by ACF in the Berwick, Pennsylvania Plant
- The museum's depot: Built in 1851 for the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad, the oldest train station west of the Appalachian Mountains in regular use
- 23 electric trolleybuses from Chicago, Dayton, Ohio, Cleveland, Des Moines, Iowa, Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Milwaukee, San Francisco, Indianapolis, and Seattle;
- 13 motor buses: from CTA (3), Janesville, WI (2), RTA (1), CMC (1), CSL (1), NSL (1), StL Public Service (1), Connecticut Co (1), Bee Line (1), and Montebello (1).
The Illinois Railway Museum is an IRS Chapter 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation owned and managed by its membership. Museum management includes a board of directors, elected by the regular membership of about 160 active volunteers. A board president is elected by the directors. The board oversees the general manager, a volunteer who in turn has oversight over an array of department heads. Major departments include Steam, Diesel, Electric Car, Passenger Car, Freight Car, Track & Signal, Buildings & Grounds, Trolley Bus, Motor Bus, and Operations. Other departments oversee the museum's libraries, electrical infrastructure, and display and education functions. Most department heads are volunteers. All workers at the museum fall under the direct authority of one of the department heads. The vast majority of workers are volunteers. Anyone who is interested in trains or other collections/aspects of the museum is actively encouraged to volunteer, with required training done by the museum.
Use in filmEdit
IRM has been used in several films, due to its proximity to Chicago and its extensive collection of historic railroad equipment. In the 1992 film A League of Their Own, starring Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, and Madonna, the museum's depot was used for several small-town depot scenes; other scenes featured with the Nebraska Zephyr and only surviving EMD E5. The 1993 movie Groundhog Day featured the museum's EMD SD24 diesel locomotive. The museum's grounds and some of the passenger cars were used in the movie The Babe, starring John Goodman. In late 2005, the Burlington 9911A and several coaches operated to Chicago for filming in Flags of Our Fathers, a Clint Eastwood film. The initial sequence of 2008's The Express: The Ernie Davis Story was shot at IRM. The most recent film Transformers: Age of Extinction starring Mark Wahlberg, released in 2014, made IRM the host of several scenes.
Many television shows' railroad sequences have been shot at the IRM. Scenes depicting steam era operations in the late 1920s were shot for the 1993 television series The Untouchables. The hit show Chicago Fire features the IRM onsite in the season 2 episode "No Regrets".
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Illinois Railway Museum.|
|Railroad Picture Archives - Photos taken in Union, IL|
- "Illinois Railway Museum - The Largest!". CNN iReport. September 28, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
- Green, Joey (2017). Vacation on Location, Midwest. Chicago, IL: Chicago Review Press Inc. p. n.p. ISBN 978-1-61373-725-5 – via Google Books.
- Tourist Trains Guide Book (second ed.). Waukesha, WI: Kalmbach Books. 2009 . p. 83. ISBN 978-0-87116-273-1 – via Google Books.
- Kallas, Nick (November 20, 2009). "89 Acre Siegel Farm Purchase". IRM.org. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
- "Illinois Railway Museum buys Burnham Shops turntable". Trains. March 25, 2016. Retrieved March 28, 2016. (subscription required)
- "Illinois Railway Museum Roster of Equipment". www5.irm.org. Retrieved 2020-07-29.
- "Transformers Movie Comes to Union". Marengo-Union Times. October 1, 2013. Retrieved June 20, 2017.