A Visit to the Illinois Railway Museum: “Hello old Friend, What are YOU doing here?”

The Illinois Railway Museum has one of the best collections of North American railway equipment. Hundreds of pieces of equipment spanning more than a century are on display.

It’s great to be able to inspect a traditional 4-4-0, and a Forney Tank engine. I’m fond of classics such as the Santa Fe 2900-class 4-8-4, Burlington’s 4-6-4 Hudson and its streamlined Budd-built Nebraska Zephyr, and of course the Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 in Brunswick green.

Chicago, Burlington & Quincy 4-6-4 at IRM.
Chicago, Burlington & Quincy 4-6-4 at IRM.
Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 electric 4929. A masterpiece of engineering and design.
Pennsylvania Railroad GG1 electric 4929. A masterpiece of engineering and design.
I recall the GG1s under wire. Great sounding air horn on these.
I recall the GG1s under wire. Great sounding air horn on these.
Budd stainless steel. And articulated too!
Budd stainless steel. And articulated too!
My book on streamlined trains came out last year and it was nice to reflect on these amazing machines in the museum. (Puns are extra).
My book on streamlined trains came out last year and so  it was nice to reflect on these amazing machines in the museum. (Puns are extra).
Some of the old girls still work; this Frisco 2-10-0 is serviceable. Just add coal, water and talent!
Some of the old girls still work; this Frisco 2-10-0 is serviceable. Just add coal, water and talent!
Parts anyone?
Parts anyone?
Sister to the popular Milwaukee Road 261 is engine 265. Sure would be neat to get both engines under steam together!
Sister to the popular Milwaukee Road 261 is engine 265. Sure would be neat to get both engines under steam together!
Lots of electrics under the barns. PCC's have been a regular feature on Tracking the Light.
Lots of electrics under the barns. PCC’s have been a regular feature on Tracking the Light.

The old diesels are neat, and there’s great array of old streetcars.

But then, what’s this? A Wisconsin Central SD45? Wow, nice to see that one of those was saved, but it just doesn’t seem that long ago and I was out catching these on the mainline.

And wait, what about this Metra Bi-Level electric? Weird to see THAT in a museum.

Two Chicago & North Western DASH9s!

Now I just feel old.

Views exposed with my FujiFilm X-T1 digital camera with Zeiss 12mm Tuoit.

A former Santa Fe Alco RSD-15. These must have looked great hauling freight back in the day.
A former Santa Fe Alco RSD-15. These must have looked great hauling freight back in the day.
Eight motors, four in each truck, that's what the DDA40X was all about.
Eight motors, four in each truck, that’s what the DDA40X was all about.
An Wisconsin Central SD45. Twenty years ago when I lived in Waukesha, Wisconsin I could hear these roar through town from my apartment. I spent lots of time putting these beast on film.
An Wisconsin Central SD45. Twenty years ago when I lived in Waukesha, Wisconsin I could hear these roar through town from my apartment. I spent lots of time putting these beast on film.
It's like Galesburg Railroad Days! The BN executive Fs! Always cool.
It’s like Galesburg Railroad Days! The BN executive Fs! Always cool.
Whoa! What's this? A Metra electric? Hmm.
Whoa! What’s this? A Metra electric? Hmm.
Two Chicago & North Western DASH9s. Really. It just doesn't seem that long ago that I sat in the cab of one these when they still had that 'new car smell'. And now they too are on display in a museum. Will anyone save a P40?
Two Chicago & North Western DASH9s. Really?! It just doesn’t seem that long ago that I sat in the cab of one these when they still had that ‘new car smell’. And now they too are on display in a museum. Will anyone save a P40?

Tracking the Light Posts New Photos Every Day!

5 thoughts on “A Visit to the Illinois Railway Museum: “Hello old Friend, What are YOU doing here?””

  1. I had the most wonderful visit to IRM on their traction day, which was on 4 July in a year which I cannot immediately remember, but I had the amazing good luck to have a run out on the main line, after the trolley parade, in an Indiana Railroad Hi-Speed car, on its first outing after restoration. I boarded the car during its internal circuit, met the late George Krambles on board, who has earlier given the commentary on events, and introduced myself to this legendary figure, who displayed considerable knowledge of Dublin’s DART. As I prepared to alight before the car headed for the main line, he very kindly arranged for me to stay on board. The ride was remarkably good – a lot better than some modern stock, and we din’t hand around – the run was fast, if not entirely “Hi-Speed”. A great day at a superb site.

  2. AND IRM has an Electroliner – beautifully restored on the exterior, and actively being restored on the interior! Check out PTJ issue 267 and NRHS News June 2016 issue (on line) for pictures of the work being done and how you can help return her to service in the next few years.

  3. Visiting this place was very nice, BUT it makes me feel OLD. They had equipment there from CTA that I remember, being put into service not many years ago.
    Then I have a question re. that. Why is rolling stock so few years in service these days? OR am I really that old already!

    1. I don’t think anything at IRM has had less than two full decades of service. Even the C&NW DASH9s are 22 years old (and C&NW itself, 21 years gone.) Yet, it seems that some of this equipment could still have plenty of useful life in it. Perhaps it is best to preserve items before they are worn out? Yet, it seems odd when just last month I was photographing an Alco RS-3 in revenue service to now find such relatively modern equipment on display. Brian S.

Comments are closed.