The Museum is closed until Bunny Trolley Hop.

Post Office Gallery

Main Streets across American almost always featured a post office, not only for sending mail but for for disseminating interesting information about the town and neighborhood. Located inside the (unofficial) East Union Post Office, just west of the museum main entrance, is the Illinois Railway Museum’s Post Office Gallery. It is available for adaptive use to inform and educate our visitors about subjects relevant to transportation history, and to display artifacts and documents from our historic collection. Enjoy your visit!

Current Post Office Gallery Exhibit

Julie Johnson at the Illinois Railway Museum

The artwork and photographs currently on display in the Post Office Gallery are a sample of items from the collection of the late Julie Ann Johnson (1942-2011). Julie Johnson was one of IRM’s most important and most productive members. She contributed in numerous ways over 44 years and had a huge impact on the museum’s early development.

Julie Johnson led many efforts over the years to transform the museum into the amazing place it is today. These efforts included the move of the Marengo depot to become the current East Union Depot; eastward extension of the main line (Johnson Siding is named in her honor); acquisition of numerous cars from the CA&E and other railroads; and the restoration of FW&WV parlor car 504. She brought her skills and experience in business and management to IRM by taking the lead in several land acquisitions. She also served on the board of directors for 17 years, including five years as museum president.

Julie Johnson was extremely generous to the museum in her life and beyond. She bequeathed her entire railroadiana collection, including her extensive accumulation of artwork, to IRM following her passing. This exhibit is a very small representation of the entire collection, which includes more than 16,500 items.

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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