The first railroad in Illinois began in 1848, the Galena & Chicago Union, which later became the Chicago & North Western Railway. Seven Class I railroads now serve Illinois with over 7200 route miles today. The state has more classification yards than any other state, with seven automated hump yards, including four Chicago area yards. Chicago was once the home of ten Class I railroad headquarters, however none are located there anymore. The historic Pullman Company car building plant was located in South Chicago and the Electo-Motive Division’s La Grange plant opened in 1936 and rolled out it’s last locomotive in 1993.
Passenger and commuter rail lines include Amtrak service originating out of the Chicago Union Station hub, along with the Metra, the South Shore line, the MetroLink light rail and the CTA.
Housed in the restored former 1876 Illinois Central headquarters, the Amboy Depot Museum features displays on the history of Amboy and its relationship to the Chicago and the Illinois Central Railroad. Displays include a retired 0-8-0 steam engine originally built in 1929 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works as switcher #8376 for the Grand Trunk Western Railroad and a caboose.
Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry has many interactive displays. Take a 20-minute guided tour, of the baggage, smoking, passenger and observation compartments of The Pioneer Zephyr: America’s First Diesel-Electric Stainless Steel Streamliner. You can also view the engineer’s cab, supplemented by a computer interactive that allows you to “drive” the Pioneer Zephyr. The exhibit also features newsreel footage that will take you back to the 1934 for the record-setting run of traveling from Denver to Chicago at an unheard of average speed of 77.5 mph. HO train layout featuring 3500 feet of track, 30 trains creating a cross country layout from Chicago to Seattle.
Depot museum displays artifacts from the Chicago Great Western Railway along with other railroads from the area. Railroad museum features a Milwaukee Road caboose and operating model railroads. Open weekend May through October.
The Little Toot Railroad Company features a miniature steam locomotive that travels through a scenic Charlie Brown Park. Nostalgic train ride is a thrill for adults as well as a fun educational experience for the young. Children under 12 ride free. Groups and parties welcomed.
The Galesburg Railroad Museum is home to the 1930 Baldwin Locomotive Works CB&Q #3006, a Hudson class S-4, 4-6-4 locomotive. It is one of only 12 built by Baldwin for the Chicago Burlington & Quincy Railroad. Rolling stock on display. Model train display. Open weekends only from mid-April to May, mid-October to mid-November. Closed Mondays.
The Historic Greenup Depot is an 1870’s Victorian style railway depot used to house local area railway artifacts. HO scale model railroad shows vignettes from the major periods of American Railroading (1840s through the 1950s).
Monticello Railway Museum showcases one of the Midwests’ best collections of rolling stock as well as weekend and holiday train rides from May through October. Scenic trains travel over former Illinois Central Railroad and Illinois Terminal right-of-ways. Museum also includes one of the Midwest’s premier diesel locomotive collections. Steam engines on display include recently restored 1907 Baldwin Works, Southern Railway 2-8-0, No.401, that also pulls occasional weekend train excursions, and a 1916 Mississippi Eastern 4-6-0 Ten Wheeler, No. 303. The last F7A ever built, the vintage Wabash 1189 often pulls scenic train rides at the Monticello Railway Museum. MRM Throttle Time sessions are conducted each Summer and Fall. For a $30.00 donation to the museum, participants have the opportunity to spend 30 minutes observing and learning the operation of one of the museum’s diesel locomotives and spend the following 30 minutes running the locomotive under the supervision of one of the museum’s engineers. Directions.
The story of railroads in Rochelle begins in 1854 when the Air Line Railroad was completed between Chicago and the town of Lane (Lane was the first name of Rochelle). The railroad later became the Chicago & North Western Railway System and today is owned by the Union Pacific (UP). Rochelle is a “hot spot” for train watching, drawing visitors from every state in the nation and world wide. Because of the number of visitors, Rochelle acquired the land in 1995 and constructed a park just for train watching. Directions.
Trolley Car 36
Forty-five minute trolley ride along Rockford’s historic riverfront during the summer. Trolley Car 36 rides have been cancelled until further notice due to maintenance.
The Rossville Depot Railroad Museum features a collection of railroad material from various railroads in the Illinois area. Featured railroad artifacts include the C&EI, Wabash, Illinois Terminal and NYC.
The Fox River Trolley Museum is a monument to the Fox Valley’s history that goes back over a 100 years. Originally it was a 40-mile railroad that was built over a seven-year period by three different companies, linking Carpentersville with Yorkville, along with a direct link between Elgin and Aurora. It opened the Fox Valley to public transportation. The first service began between Elgin and Geneva, including the stretch preserved today, on June 30, 1896. The museum operates a variety of antique trolleys, many from lines that have long vanished, over trackage that once connected the towns of Carpentersville, Elgin, Aurora, and Yorkville. Directions.
Advertised as “America’s Largest Railway Museum”, the Illinois Railway Museum is located about 90 miles from downtown Chicago. This is an operating museum, with train rides along with Chicago street cars. For over 50 years, the Illinois Railway Museum has acquired over 375 pieces of equipment, that includes 25 steam locomotives. Steam engines include but not limited to AT&SF’s No. 2903, a 1943 Baldwin Works 4-8-4, the St. Louis-San Francisco Railroad 1918 2-10-0 (Frisco) #1630, working occasional weekend excursions during the summer. Steam locomotives on display include, but not limited to, the Norfolk & Western #2050, a 2-8-8-2 built by the American Locomotive Company in 1923 and the 1944 Milwaukee Road 4-8-4, No.265. Also on display is the UP X-18, one of only two surviving GE Gas Turbine locomotives. Also pulling special event excursions, the diesel-electric silver pilot from the Chicago Burlington and Quincy’s famed “Nebraska Zephyr”, No. 9911-A. Look for a Day Out With Thomas events during August. Admission includes unlimited rides. Directions