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The museum is open on weekends.

Barn 9

Barn 9 is one of our train exhibit buildings, or barns. In Barn 9 you’ll find the true giants of the rails: huge steam engines from the golden age of rail travel, powerful streamlined electric locomotives, and the most famous train at IRM, the stainless steel Nebraska Zephyr. Exhibits in Barn 9 include:

  • The famous Nebraska Zephyr, an articulated, all-stainless steel streamlined train from the 1930s
  • The largest steam engine at IRM, Santa Fe 2903, which was displayed at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago for decades
  • Illinois Central 201, thought to be the only surviving steam engine operated by the famous Casey Jones
  • A distinctive GG-1 streamlined electric locomotive built during World War II for the Pennsylvania Railroad
  • One of the largest surviving “Mallet” articulated steam locomotives, Norfolk & Western 2050
  • A high-speed 4-6-4 “Hudson” passenger locomotive from the Chicago Burlington & Quincy, number 3007

The Barn 9 exhibit building is open for self-guided tours whenever the museum is open. Barn 9 is located on Depot Street, just southwest of the Central Diner annex.

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.

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