Who We Are

The Illinois Railway Museum is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization which is owned entirely by its volunteers. The museum receives no state or federal money for its operations. All capital and operating costs are paid by individual donations and revenue derived from tickets and on-site sales.

The lifeblood of the museum is its volunteers. All train operation and the vast majority of restoration work done on the historic collection is performed by volunteers. The museum welcomes anyone, 18 years or older, who is interested in trains or history, or is looking for a hobby or a place they can make a difference. Most of the volunteers at IRM are not professional railroaders; the museum counts men and women who are electricians, lawyers, teachers, construction workers, doctors, and members of many other professions among its volunteer ranks.

The museum is organized into a number of departments, nearly all of them led by a volunteer curator. These departments include equipment departments, such as Electric Car, Steam, Diesel, and so on; facilities departments, such as Buildings & Grounds, Track & Signal, and Overhead Line; education-oriented departments, such as Libraries and Exhibits; and the Operating Department, which oversees actual train operations. Volunteers perform work in one or more departments which is overseen by that department’s curator, with two General Managers overseeing the activities of the department curators. The General Managers report directly to the museum’s Board of Directors, which is elected from the ranks of working volunteers.

The museum’s management and workers are united in a shared vision: to work towards the goals set out in the museum’s mission statement and to make the Illinois Railway Museum the premier rail history organization in America.

Interested in volunteering? Click here to learn more.

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