Destination Illinois: Illinois Railway Museum

Destination Illinois

MCHENRY COUNTY, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — It’s said to be the largest railroad museum in the country, Union’s historic “Illinois Railway Museum.”

The McHenry County attraction, which is just about three hours north, features something you won’t find in many places. You can ride a 100-year-old Chicago streetcar or locomotive.

Just 35 miles from O’Hare, it’s the ultimate nostalgia trip. The Illinois Railway Museum in Union.

“A large part of our collection is operable.”

“Every time you come out you can see something different that you haven’t had a chance to ride yet.”

This century-old “Illinois Terminal” train operated from St. Louis, across the border to destinations across Illinois.

“They also had longer distance service to the other major downstate cities, Springfield, Decatur, Champaign and Peoria.”

The variety of trains and streetcars, more than 450 pieces of historic equipment, without parallel.

“It’s massive. The amount of rolling stock you guys have here and the old trains and all the cars…it’s just amazing,” said New York visitor, Cary Hunt.

Dedicated volunteers, working to restor and maintain.

Roberta Bellock’s husband labored tirelessly to restore a 1928 Chicago Northshore Milwaukee train.

“And it took them at least 10-12 years to get it going and now it runs regularly.”

“This 1889 business car that operated out of Nevada, among the oldest pieces of equipment in this extraordinary collection,” said Julian Crews.

Hop on board the green Hornet, the streetcar that crisscrossed Chicago on rubber tires.

The end of the streetcar era, drawing to a close in 1958. But the Illinois Railway Museum, keeping this ric heritage alive.

It’s a big weekend for the Railway Museum as its Diesel Days. Friday, Saturday and Sunday you can see, hear and ride behind some of the biggest and most powerful locomotives ever built. They said you can be the engineer on one of those Giants of the Rails through the Take the Throttle program.

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