TOM'S RAILFAN PAGES
IRM IN 1966
The Illinois Railway Museum in 1966
Behind car 415 is the entire collection of the museum.
Car 415 waits to board passengers at Olson Road
My Dad and I were really into riding trains during this time of my life and we were told about a train ride out in the Northern
Illinois farmlands. The train ride turned out to be an electric streetcar in the middle of nowhere. There was a gravel road
with a small platform for boarding. After the ride, which went for about 1 mile, one could walk in the other direction and
see a collection of railroad equipment stretching down the track for about a half mile. I really enjoyed the ride and returned
many times that year to ride again. Everyone knows that this humble start-up operation grew into the world's largest railroad
museum and put Union, Illinois on the map. The museum at the time had two streetcars which they rotated for operations. One
car was the Illinois Terminal 415 and the other was Milwaukee streetcar 972, a real hot rod with four 35hp motors. The Milwaukee
car had big windows which made the car light and airy, while the 415 had its upper windows covered up in a modernization program
and had dark paneling on the inside. 415 also had long distance style high backed seats, a true country cruiser. The volunteers
wasted no time in laying track for yards and a depot and by the next year had a new platform with a station from the town
of Marengo just a few miles up the road. The main thrust of the museum at this stage was to get most of the collection under
cover, so yards and carbarns were the order of the day. The mainline finally got extended in 1980 and has gotten a lot of
attention in recent years with many further extensions and passing tracks. The most recent trackwork is making a double track
entrance to the depot area which should be done in 2001.
The right of way for the Illinois Railway Museum was just one mile long at this time, but plans were in the works to add a
train station and storage yards for the growing collection of equipment.