Become an Illinois Railway Museum Volunteer

The Illinois Railway Museum is a museum of volunteers. Volunteers preserve and restore the equipment, pull the throttles, punch the tickets, dispatch the trains, keep the books, manage the computer systems and do the thousand and one other tasks needed to run our museum.

A few museum volunteers have worked for railroads; most have not. Some have specific skills that they are willing to bring to their volunteer activities, but this is not a requirement. All of us learn on the job.

We need your help, your time, your energy, and your ideas, to keep our Museum in Motion, to preserve and operate our collection and to help our visitors make the very most of their visits.

Far the best way to start volunteering is to talk to any of our current volunteers during your visit. They can tell you about the museum, and often introduce you to volunteers in the areas in which you might be interested. You will need to choose a department in which to begin and arrange with them where and when to start. This is not a long-term commitment to a specific department. Many volunteers work in more than one department.  If you have any difficulty making contact with a department in which you are particularly interested, call by the office during your visit or telephone them at 815-923-4391 and they will be able to discuss opportunities and link you to department contacts.


What You Give

  • A few days each year, or several days each month
  • Sturdy work clothes and uniforms, appropriate for assigned duties
  • A dedication to safety at all times
  • Respect for the historical equipment, our museum guests, and for your fellow workers
  • Reliability and dependability
  • Your skills and life experiences
  • Participation in training programs and qualification testing
  • Obeying museum and railroad rules and regulations
  • A willingness to learn and work
  • Signing a liability waiver

What You Get

  • A chance to preserve railroad history and equipment
  • Participation in the decisions of priorities through your participation
  • To work with volunteers who bring with them the breadth of their experiences and knowledge
  • An opportunity to make the excitement of trains available to children, young and old
  • Sore muscles, soiled clothes
  • Satisfaction with a job well done
  • A sense of accomplishment
  • A learning and working environment
  • Many and varied challenges
  • An opportunity to become a voting member and help determine the future course of the museum

What You Can Do


  • Equipment Inspection and Maintenance
    • Diesel Locomotives
    • Steam Locomotives
    • Electric Cars
    • Passenger Cars
    • Freight Cars
    • Buses and Trolley Buses
    • Support Equipment
  • Cleaning
  • Sanding and painting


  • Guiding Group Tours
  • Constructing interpretive exhibits and displays
  • Speaking to groups
  • Writing and photography for our Museum publications
  • Rail & Wire Magazine
  • Librarians
  • Archivists


  • Wood working
  • Upholstery
  • Machine shop part fabrication
  • Welding
  • Mechanic
  • Electrical work
  • Cleaning
  • Repair
  • Sanding and Painting


  • Trainman and Car Host
  • Conductor
  • Electric Car Operator
  • Steam Locomotive Fireman
  • Steam Locomotive Engineer
  • Diesel Locomotive Engineer
  • Train Dispatcher
  • Station Agent
  • Track Crew
  • Signal Crew
  • Line Crew


Join with the Hundreds of Volunteers who make the Illinois Railway Museum A Museum in Motion.


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