Railroads & Locomotives Tourist Railroad Profiles Illinois Railway Museum profile

Illinois Railway Museum profile

By Lucas Iverson | June 12, 2023

The campus is home to over 450 pieces of railroad equipment.

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IRM logoSteam, diesel, and electric power from rail lines across the Midwest operate side-by-side at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Ill., which is located 90 minutes northwest of Chicago along a former interurban line, the Elgin & Belvidere. The campus is home to over 450 pieces of railroad equipment and includes 27 steam locomotives, 50 diesel locomotives, and over 90 streetcars, interurbans, and electric locomotives


As an operating museum, rides on streetcars are offered most days, with diesel and steam trains running on select weekends and during special events. Trolley cars make a 15-minute loop of the grounds on the streetcar line, while trains and interurban cars depart from a restored 1851 Chicago & North Western depot for a 40-minute ride over the museum’s 5-mile main line to Kishwaukee Grove. Admission includes unlimited train rides and access to all public areas of the museum.

When to go

Open weekends, late April through October, daily from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Electric cars operate on most weekdays, and electric cars and steam and diesel trains on weekends. Visit the website for a complete schedule.

silver streamlined passenger train makes way toward mainline tracks
UP No. 1848 yields to the Nebraska Zephyr as it enters the Illinois Railway Museum’s main line. Angela Pusztai-Pasternak photo

Good to know

A major expansion of the museum’s public buildings is underway that will replicate a small-town Main Street circa 1958. The Schroder Mercantile currently houses the museum store and visitors center. Next door is the archives and museum of the Milwaukee Road Historical Association along with a model train display.

Worth doing

There are many special events throughout the year, including Trolley Weekend, Diesel Days, and the Museum Showcase Weekend, which are great times to see plenty of equipment running.

Don’t miss

Need a bite to eat? The Central Diner is an authentic 1930s roadside diner that serves meals and snacks most weekends during the summer season. Its air-conditioned dining room features a great view of the streetcar line.

Getting there

From Chicago, take Interstate 90 to Highway 20, the Marengo exit. Drive northwest about 4½ miles to Union Road. Union Road to Coral Road. Turn right on Coral Road and then left on Olson Road.

Location: 7000 Olson Road, Union, IL
Phone: 1-815-923-4391
Website: irm.org
E-mail: Form on website

See more Illinois tourist railroads you must visit.

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