There's nothing like the toot of a train whistle and the call of
a conductor to put you in the mood for adventure. Luckily, the
Illinois Railway Museum in Union offers just the ticket.
The giant open-air museum boasts more than 450 pieces of
rail equipment, from a horsecar that ran in the late 1800s to the
first air-conditioned car to run on the CTA's rapid transit lines.
Its 168-acre main campus encompasses indoor and outdoor exhibit
spaces, interspersed with shady picnic spots.
The museum opened in North Chicago with a single electric
car in 1953 and moved to its current location in Union in 1963.
Now, says Edward Rosengren, marketing director of the IRM, "the
collection represents over a century of railroading."
Visitors can tour the grounds on the streetcar loop that
boards at an 1851 depot, or climb aboard a restored train car for a
five-mile, locomotive-powered ride through farmland and prairie to
the scenic Kishwaukee River. Expect a carload of train facts from
the enthusiastic volunteers who operate the trains and narrate the
For young children, the popular Day Out With Thomas
festival, Aug. 19-21 and Aug. 27-28, features a ride with Thomas
the Tank Engine, plus live music, puppet shows, storytelling and
balloon animals. (Special admission rates apply.)
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