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Shay it Forward

Purchase General Admission Tickets

Purchase Shay it Forward Tickets

Join us on Saturday, June 24th as we help to celebrate the life and the preservation legacy of the late Jim Wrinn, Editor of TRAINS magazine!

Jim's widow Cate Kratville-Wrinn, herself the daughter of noted railroad historian and preservationist William Kratville, has set up the Shay It Forward program to support museums and preservation groups, with a particular emphasis on steam locomotives and especially the geared steam locomotives Jim so dearly loved.

For the first of these events, the family has chosen Illinois Railway Museum as the beneficiary. IRM, the largest railroad museum in the United States, is the home of J. Neils Lumber Co. No. 5, an operable three-truck Shay that was unofficially Jim's "Neighborhood Engine" during his time in Milwaukee. IRM's collection also includes the Pullman sleeper Glen Springs, which once belonged to Cate's father and the Burlington's Nebraska Zephyr, which helped cement Cate's love for trains during her years growing up in Omaha. For these reasons, both the Wrinn and Kratville families share a special connection to the Museum and decided to kick off the Shay It Forward program here.

There are three major events that will take place during the day and evening:

  • A "Take The Throttle" Engineer experience on Shay No. 5 where participants will get 25 minutes at the controls of No. 5 to "Shay It Forward (and Reverse!)" under the supervision of one of the Museum's Engineers.
  • The opportunity to enjoy either a luncheon or dinner prepared and served in the Diner of the Nebraska Zephyr as you traverse the Museum's demonstration railroad.
  • An evening/night photo session that will provide at least five different photo opportunities, including "Golden Hour," twilight and multiple synchronized-flash night photography scenes.

Shay it Forward Engineer Experience (Sold Out)

Each opportunity will cost $300.00 and consist of:

  • Safety briefing prior to the scheduled throttle pull. Participants must arrive 45 minutes prior to their scheduled operating time.
  • 25 minutes throttle time on Shay 5 operating on a set route between the steam service area and the south yards.
  • Souvenir "Shay It Forward" hat unique to this event.
  • Souvenir "Shay It Forward" lapel pin.
  • Still photos of the participant in the cab and operating the locomotive.
  • 4K HD video of the participant's throttle pull.

Dining A-La Zephyr

Join us for not one, but TWO opportunities to dine aboard the Museum's articulated Nebraska Zephyr consist, the first time this opportunity has been offered since 2015!

Ceres, the Goddess of Agriculture, bids you welcome aboard the car named in her honor to enjoy a meal carefully planned, prepared and served on-board by our Museum volunteers as you traverse the Museum's demonstration railroad.

There will be one luncheon seating, departing East Union Depot at 12:00 Noon and expected to last approximately 90 minutes. (Sold Out)

The Luncheon menu consists of:

  • Antipasto plate
  • Chicken Caesar Salad
  • Dessert
  • Beverage

Seating is limited to 32 patrons (eight tables of four). Price is $65.00 per person.

Please note: Regular passengers will be occupying the other cars in the train during this event but will NOT be permitted to occupy the dining car.

There will also be one Dinner seating, departing East Union Depot at 5:00 PM and is expected to last two hours.

The Dinner menu consists of:

  • Bruschetta
  • Italian Salad
  • Chicken Piccata served on angel hair pasta with capers and roasted pine nuts
  • Italian green beans
  • Dessert
  • Beverage

Seating is limited to 32 patrons (eight tables of four) in the dining car. Price is $139.00 per person.

Additionally, a private booth in parlor-lounge car Juno is available for a single party of up to four for $600.00 (Sold Out)

Regular passengers will NOT be occupying the other cars in the train during this event. Patrons are encouraged to retire to the Juno for socializing after dining.

Please Note: The Zephyr will be participating in the first shoot of the evening photo session, possibly during the latter part of the dinner service. If dinner service has concluded. patrons are welcome to stay aboard the train during this event. Those planning on participating in the photo session and wish to enjoy the dining experience should plan on attending the luncheon service instead of dinner.

Also, for both meal events, patrons ARE permitted to bring a 750ml bottle of wine for personal consumption, in compliance with local liquor ordinances and the Museum's insurance requirements. There is a limit of one bottle per couple per meal.

Get Busy Photographin'

To finish off the day, a photo session has been scheduled for the late evening and into the night to commemorate Jim's love of showcasing excellent photography in the pages of TRAINS.

This event is limited to 60 participants total and tickets are $100.00 each.

The event kicks off at 7:00 PM as photographers board the coach train (pulled by SLSF 1630) for a ride out to the Seemann Road platform and crossing where we will take advantage of the "Golden Hour" to stage a double-runby between the 1630 coach train and the Nebraska Zephyr, pulled by E5 9911A Silver Pilot. Each train will take its turn on the main and the siding, providing two different looks to the scene.

Participants will re-board the coach train and return to the main campus by 8:15 PM (sunset on June 24 is 8:29 PM) to take part in a photo shoot during the "Blue Hour" at and immediately after sunset. The exact setup is TBD but we plan on incorporating both steam locomotives if possible.

From there, the group will split into three smaller groups of no more than 20 and will be presented three scenes lit with synchronized flash equipment. Each scene is being set up and managed by an experienced photo charter participant/organizer. Each group will have approximately 40 minutes to shoot as many angles and variations as possible in that time and then have 20 minutes to move on to the next scene. Each group will shoot each scene in round-robin fashion. We expect these cycles to begin at approximately 9:30, 10:30 and 11:30 PM.

The three staged scenes will be:

  • Shay No. 5 in the steam servicing area (not under trolley wire) with Steam Department volunteers appropriately dressed to serve as "human props.”
  • Frisco 1630 and CSS&SB 803 (our two "Russian" locomotives) together. We have never offered this particular lineup in a previous organized photo event.
  • Pennsylvania 4927, a GG1, will be featured receiving orders at Spaulding Tower! This is the first time the GG1 has participated in a public photo event.

The Nebraska Zephyr and crew may also be available for existing-light photography on the East Union Station Tracks for a time after dinner service is completed.

As is customary for these events, participants need to be familiar with their equipment and the skills needed to successfully work together with others so everyone has an enjoyable time. At minimum, participants need to have the following equipment:

  • A tripod for mounting the camera on.
  • A CAMERA capable of being operated in MANUAL mode (shutter speed and aperture set by user) This should include the ability to disable any automatic flash and hold the shutter open for extended periods of time as warranted.
  • The ability (through a remote or cable release) to open and close the shutter manually without moving the camera.
  • A SMALL flashlight for checking camera settings (or changing film if that's still your bag) in the dark without disturbing others.
  • Most importantly, the ability to be considerate of your fellow photographers and the organizers. Please be receptive to requests to move or adjust your position so it does not interfere with others!

Additionally, participants should dress appropriately for walking on uneven surfaces (track, ballast). Sturdy, closed-toed shoes are MANDATORY. You should also be prepared for a mid-summer evening around high grass and weeds, including wearing long pants and use of insect repellent. Consult weather forecasts for that day and evening and be prepared to protect both yourselves and your equipment against the forecasted conditions (e.g., heat, humidity, rain).


Equipment Scheduled to Operate:

Admission Rates:
Adults $18.00, Senior $16.00, Children $14.00

Museum Hours:
10:00AM to 6:00PM

All equipment, schedules and prices subject to change without notice.

Operation of equipment is expected to start within 60 minutes of opening and cease 30 minutes before closing.

Parking lot opens 30 minutes before museum and closes 30 minutes after.

  • Illinois Railway Museum
  • June 24, 2023
  • Saturday, 10:00AM to 6:00PM

Contact event manager

Thank you Kindly

Shay it Forward

7000 Olson Road, Union, Illinois 60180, USA

Saturday, 10:00AM to 6:00PM
June 24, 2023


Shay it Forward

7000 Olson Road, Union, Illinois 60180, USA

Saturday, 10:00AM to 6:00PM
June 24, 2023