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Open weekends in May. Calendar →

Barn 7

Barn 7 is one of our train exhibit buildings, or barns. In our Barn 7 exhibit building you can tour the history of street railways in America, starting with horse-drawn streetcars and ending with the streamlined PCC streetcars from the 1940s that closed out streetcar service in Chicago and many other U.S. cities. There are also interurban and rapid transit cars. Exhibits include:

  • Chicago horse-drawn streetcar number 8, built in the mid-1800s, which is IRM’s oldest piece of railway equipment
  • The North Shore Electroliner, a four-car streamlined high-speed interurban train built in 1941
  • “Old Pullman” streetcar number 144, one of 600 identical cars that plied the streets of Chicago for over 45 years
  • The only surviving “Green Hornet” streamlined PCC streetcar from Chicago
  • A 1940s articulated three-car ‘L’ train from Chicago that was nicknamed the “jitterbug”

Our Barn 7 exhibit barn is open for self-guided tours whenever the museum is open. Barn 7 is located on Depot Street, just southeast of the Central Diner annex.

Photo by Jacob Goldberg.

Illinois Railway Museum

The Illinois Railway Museum, as you see it today, is the result of decades of effort by a dynamic group of dedicated volunteers. All of the buildings, track, locomotives and cars were assembled here at Union on what was once farmland. Our main line trackage was laid on the vacant right-of-way of the Elgin & Belvidere Electric railway. Why would rational adults freely contribute so much of their time and treasure to creating this repository of railroad history?

To answer this question, we must remember that at one time in our nation’s past the railroad industry was the largest private employer. With so many families supported by one enterprise, the widespread interest in that industry is understandable….manifesting itself in special interest groups devoted to various activities such as taking railroad pictures or publishing books on railroads, building railroad models or just “riding the rails,” The Illinois Railway Museum is probably the ultimate railroad historian special interest group. Originally formed to preserve one important piece of rolling stock, it has evolved into an educational and historic preservation organization recreating possibly the largest operating demonstration railroad showcase on the North American continent.

We welcome all to our Museum and encourage you to join in our education, restoration and preservation efforts. Only one prerequisite is recommended, a sincere interest in some aspect of railroading.

Learn more