Rolling stock has always held a special fascination for railroad historians, indeed the saving of one special interurban was the catalyst for the founding of the Museum. Early on, Museum members contemplated a structured acquisition program to portray types of railroad activity through rolling stock. As developed through the years the plan was to acquire a representative piece for each important chronological period within major rolling stock type.
IRM has been successful in acquiring many unique cars and locomotives including the Electroliner, the Nebraska Zephyr, the only remaining Chicago streamlined PCC streetcars, the first GP7 diesel engine, the first Fairbanks Morse locomotive constructed in their own plant, the only interurban sleeping car, two "Russian" locomotives, the oldest surviving street railway car, an 1859 horsecar and the last running pair of Illinois Central Suburban Electric Multiple Unit coaches.
The two "Russian" locomotives deserve some explanation. First is Frisco 1630, a Decapod type, built for export to Russia during World War I, but undelivered because of the Bolshevik revolution. Second is the South Shore Line 803 "Little Joe" built for export after World War II, but not delivered due to the start of the Cold War.
As the scope of the Museum has grown from interurban cars to include streetcars, rapid transit cars and then steam locomotives and their associated passenger and freight cars and eventually diesel locomotives, the variety of equipment has grown to encompass every major type. Also included are examples of mining, industrial and special purpose lines such as the Chicago Tunnel Company.
Although we identify the collections of rolling stock, in most cases they are not physically situated together in discrete clusters. Due to space constraints, restoration requirements and operational needs, items within a collection may be scattered thoughout our site. If one desires to view all the pieces in a group it can become a challenge, albeit one we hope is pleasantly rewarding.
Among the more significant collections at IRM are:
The Chicago Collection
The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Collection
The Chicago & North Western Collection
The Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Collection
The Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee Collection
The Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Collection
The Illinois Terminal Collection
The Steam Locomotive Collection
The Diesel Locomotive Collection
The Passenger Coach Collection
The Freight Car Collection
A detailed roster of rolling stock is available at the Museum Store. The Catalog of Collections of the IRM will be available soon.
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