The Illinois Railway Museum opened in 1953, but before that it was known as the “Illinois Electric Railway Museum”. In 1963, it acquired car 65 and the collection soon grew to 40 pieces. By the end of 1964, the museum had outgrown its original building and relocated to a vacant field east of Union, IL. The IRM acquired the land by paying back taxes and reclaiming the right-of-way.
A visit to the museum is sure to educate you on the history and importance of railways. This museum features a model railroad featuring almost 100 trains and eight miles of track. The layout includes 40-foot bridges over canyons. It also offers an outdoor train ride, pulled by a replica steam engine. Children must be accompanied by an adult on the ride. For safety reasons, visitors must wear face coverings. Also, there are no public restrooms on the train ride and train operators must keep a low-steam level.
The museum is located on Princess Road. The museum was established in 1979 by PM Joseph and features photographs and paintings that trace the growth of the railway system in India. A special section of the museum focuses on trolleys and other old railroad equipment. There are also shaded picnic areas, a gift shop, and a library. A number of small exhibits are available in the visitors center. Once you’ve finished your tour, you can purchase souvenirs at the museum’s store.
The museum’s new membership cards will allow for contactless check-in. Members can now request a membership card in advance and have it ready at the gate. The museum’s trains are now 100 percent vaccinated, but non-vaccinated people will have to wear a face covering indoors. This new state mandate is effective August 30, 2021. The changes are meant to increase safety and promote health awareness for all. If you have a history of illness or are concerned about your health, this museum will help you get informed.
The Illinois Railway Museum is one of the largest museums in the country and has over 100 pieces of historic railroad equipment. Visitors can ride historic trains on the museum’s tourist railroad. The museum’s train rides run on a decommissioned line once used by the Illinois Central Gulf and the Illinois Terminal Railroad. The museum also hosts an annual festival called Railroad Days, where you can enjoy a full-blown experience aboard a regular passenger train made of historic rail cars.
The Illinois Railway Museum is open daily, with special events and extended hours. The museum is also open during Memorial Day Weekend, which means active military personnel can visit for FREE. You can also experience the railway post office (RPO) operation, where postal mail was delivered from all over the United States. Another unique feature is the Steam Engineer Experience, where you can pretend to be an engineer on a real steam engine. In addition to the museum’s long-running exhibitions, the museum also offers educational programs and special events.