About Illinois Railway Museum
The most enticing exhibits at the Illinois Railway Museum don’t sit in glass cases. Instead, they can be found chugging along the five-mile mainline or the one-mile streetcar loop at various points in the day, giving visitors an opportunity to witness these antique machines functioning the way they were meant to do. This emphasis on living history is a key part of the museum’s mission to educate visitors about the growth and development of the railroad industry throughout the Chicagoland area as well as the United States in general.
Although it already possesses extensive collections of trolley coaches, electric cars, diesel engines, steam locomotives, and railroad cars, the Illinois Railway Museum is still bent on acquiring more pieces, hoping to eventually represent each major chronological period in the history of rail travel. The museum’s volunteers do their best to restore antique equipment whenever possible, either by rebuilding original parts or by using modern reproductions and cosmetic touches to fill in the blanks. This ensures that visitors will not only be able to see restored, full-sized versions of historic rolling stock, but can also witness them in motion and even ride some of them.
Union Depot Railroad Museum
The Union Depot Railroad Museum building is what remains of the original Mendota Railroad Station. However, when the society acquired the site it was virtually a empty shell. Many volunteers spent countless hours restoring the building to its original state with ticket office and waiting room. The museum has a waiting room for trains that stop in Mendota, a large HO model railroad layout depicting Mendota with its grand railroad station, display rooms with railroad artifacts, and a large railroad library.
Special Events For 2022
Events listed below are subject to modification or cancellation due to health and safety regulations. Please check back on our website 1-2 weeks in advance of each event.
Saturdays Bunny Trolley HopRide the streetcar to meet the Easter Bunny and help him find his eggs! Special Fare Event. No passes honored for this event. Check website for opening times.
May 8 Sunday Mothers DayAll Moms admitted free when accompanied by at least one full fare paying child or adult.
May 14 Saturday Scout DayBoy Scout and Girl Scout troops participate in a day-long event. The day includes a flag ceremony, awarding of badges, and participating in various projects, as well as touring the Museum.
May 28, 29 & 30 Saturday, Sunday & Monday Memorial Day WeekendThe summer begins! Steam or Diesel and Electric trains will operate all three days. During this event, active Military personnel and their families admitted FREE with military ID.
Saturday & Sunday Railway Post Office WeekendOperations and Demonstrations of Railway Post Office railway cars with on-the-fly mail pickups. See how railroads played a major role in the handling of the U.S. Mail.
Saturday Chicago DayCommemorate the 64th anniversary of the last day of streetcar service in Chicago by riding railroad and transit equipment from the Windy City.
Sunday Fathers DayAll Dads admitted free when accompanied by at least one full fare paying child or adult.
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What Are People Saying About Illinois Railway Museum
Here are some reviews from our users.
“5 starsss!!!! This place is amazing! They have a gift shop full of fun stuff. The lines werent long & the train wasnt overly crowded. They have several trains to view and take pictures on & also a trolly as well. The train takes you to a pumpkin farm where you can pick a pumpkin, take pictures and enjoy all the setups! The train takes you back to the Illinois Railway Museum & you get off there. Everyone was very nice and helpful! We had such a wonderful time. Our sons first time on a train too!”
“The lines weren’t crazy. We went around Halloween so they had a pumpkin patch you could get pumpkins from that was fun. Alot of history on the railroad. Pry won’t return but the experience was worth it. It’s not for everyone. Have fun!!”
“Great collection of running trains. Would be nice if they had all barns open and access to enter the trains and passenger cars in the barns. There are a lot of cool trains hidden in the closed barns that you can see on the website, but unfortunately won’t see in person due to only access to employees.”
“Always a magical experience! So educational, rich with history, peaceful yet immersive. They have lots of special days of different featured trains to ride and more! We love going “
Museum Hours And Admission Prices
Weekends May through October, and Special Event days: Electric cars and steam or diesel trains operate hourly 11:00am-4:00pm, or more often as needed, and streetcars operate on the streetcar loop 11:00am-4:00pm as needed Electric cars operate hourly 11:00am-3:00pm or 11:00am-4:00pm
On open days, the Museum grounds open at 10:00am and close one hour after the last train departure unless otherwise announced.On open days, the parking lot opens at 9:30am and closes 30 minutes after the grounds close.Hours and admission rates for special events may differ check calendar listing for details. Special fare events require a separate ticket.
*Children ages 2-11 children younger than 2 are free and do not need a ticket
Chartered trains are available on dates the museum is open and may be available on certain other dates. For charter information, or write to the Charter Director, IRM, PO Box 427, Union, IL 60180.
For further information, telephone 815-923-4000 or 1-800-BIG-RAIL.To find driving directions and information on reaching the museum via public transit .Food service is available at the Central Diner weekends between mid-June and early October with a limited menu. There is currently no food service on weekdays. However you are welcome to bring your own food any day the museum is open.Central Diner hours are 11am-4pm on weekends.All equipment, schedules, and prices subject to change without notice.
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No Injuries After Train Catches On Fire Inside Building At Illinois Railway Museum In Union
No injuries were reported after a train caught on fire inside a building at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union Monday morning, fire officials said.
The Union Fire Protection District and Marengo Fire and Rescue Districts responded around 10:45 a.m. Monday to the Illinois Railway Museum, 7000 Olson Road in Union, for a report of a structure fire.
First arriving firefighters found smoke showing from the facility on the east side of the property.
A quick fire attack extinguished the fire within 10 minutes.
The locomotive was then pulled from the facility by workers which allowed firefighters to extinguish the remaining hot spots underneath the locomotive.
The diesel locomotive was undergoing restoration and it is believed grease on the underframe ignited, Vucha said.
What Our Visitors Are Saying About Their Experience
So much fun for our little boys! They love riding the trains and they have so many old restored trains. Some of their restoration jobs are fantastic and really capture the feel of the height of rail travel. I dont know of any other place quite like this. Its a great educational experience even if you dont love trains.
The largest railway museum in the USA and they run demonstrations of many working trains. The trains vary from 1800s steam engines to the recently retired CTA Red Line trains. They have old Pullman cars which are nicely displayed.
The IRM is a fantastic place. The Thomas The Train is a wonderful time of course, but you MUST visit and see all the amazing Steam, Diesel and Electric Streetcars on display, being restored and running. When you ride an electric streetcar, you have to wonder why they are not still used! With the same capacity as a modern bus and with no vehicle emissions, they are just great. The Illinois Railway Museum is a Must See.
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History Of The Museum
The Monticello Railway Museum, a not-for-profit educational organization, was founded in 1966 with the goal to operate steam-powered passenger train excursions. Since then, the Museum has expanded by collecting historic equipment, constructing display and restoration facilities, and offering various train rides and events.
All Aboard The Historic Illinois Railway Museum
UNION, Ill. Its said to be the largest railroad museum in the country.
The historic Illinois Railway Museum in McHenry County attraction features something you wont find in many places.
Just 35 miles from OHare, the museum is located in Union, Illinois and is the ultimate nostalgia trip.
A large part of our collection is operable, the museums Larry Stone said. Every time you come out, you can see something different that you havent had a chance to ride yet.
Visitors can see a variety of trains and streetcars among the 450 pieces of historical equipment.
Dedicated volunteers work to restore and maintain the collection.
The Illinois Railway Museum is keeping the rich heritage alive.
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