Back in July , we went camping with my in-laws at the Marengo KOA. They wanted to get away for a weekend, but needed to stay close because Dennis' Grandmother lives with them and isn't in the best of health, so they wanted to stay close in case anything happened (it didn't). I've really been wanting to check out the Marengo Ridge Trail, but we were only up for one night and they really wanted to take Weston to the Illinois Railway Museum which is really close to the campground. We'd never been there, but thought it would be fun because Weston LOVES trains and, depending on what they have running that day, you get to ride historic steam, electric, or diesel trains!
We arrived at the museum and headed to the gate to purchase our tickets. They offer a family rate, which for us was a huge money saver. We had five adults and three kids with us and were given the family rate of $50. This price covered admission and all rides on all of the trains that were running for the day. We arrived just as the steam engine was leaving so we decided to walk around and check out what the place has to offer. Practically all of the train cars are in covered warehouses and each warehouse has a different theme. Within each warehouse, different cars are open on different days. I couldn't find anyone to ask about this, but since they are historic cars, I am assuming this is to help prevent wear-and-tare and overuse of the train cars. Some of the cars have little displays set up in them to help you picture what it would have been like to ride the train at that time.
One of the cars that I found to be really cool was the Pullman sleeper cars. We didn't get to go in these cars, but you could view them pretty well from the platforms outside the window. There was even an entire 'apartment car' owned by someone with a dining room, kitchenette, and sleeping rooms for them and their family! How cool would it have been to own your own train car?! I imagine back then it was like owning your own airplane. I couldn't get any good pictures of them because the lighting in the barn was so dark, so you'll just have to go check them out yourself! The barns also house some cool historic advertisements for various train-related businesses.
After touring the train cars we headed back to board the steam train. It's about half an hour ride to the end of the line and back.
Then we hopped on the electric train for another half hour ride.
After both train rides we were exhausted and so were the kids so we headed back to camp. Weston loved his first train ride and I can't wait to take him on a train that actually goes somewhere!
This place was really, pretty cool. Trains were such an integral part of our early history and settlement throughout the country. It's great to see a place dedicated to preserving the cars that made early cross-country and commuter travel possible.
Illinois Railway Museum
7000 Olson Road
Union, IL 60180
Mon- Fri: 10am-5pm
Sat & Sun: 9am - 5:30p
CLICK HERE FOR ADMISSION RATES AND TRAIN SCHEDULES
You can bring strollers but not on the train rides. They also won't fit in the railcar exhibits.
Pack a lunch and have a picnic!
Board the train at least 15 minutes prior to departure- especially if you have a larger group.
Bring along sunscreen and water. While most of the exhibits are in warehouses, you'll be walking around outside a lot!