The Museum is open daily.

Yard 5 Exhibit Cars

In our exhibit cars in Yard 5, you’ll find rotating exhibits focusing on specific oft-overlooked areas of railroad history. In addition to some long-time exhibits, there are limited-time exhibitions that change periodically, so stop by when you visit to see what’s new. Currently, exhibition subjects include:

  • Railroad china and the experience of dining on the rails
  • Steam locomotive builder’s plates
  • Railroad police – the men who kept order on the railroad
  • Signage and  memorabilia from historic railroad stations of Chicago
  • Railroad lanterns

The Yard 5 exhibit cars are open for self-guided tours most weekends that the museum is open. They are located in Yard 5, on the northeast corner of Central Avenue and Depot Street, just east of the museum entrance and the 50th Avenue ‘L’ station.

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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