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For The Love Of Trains - The Illinois Railway Museum

Posted Sep 06 2010 12:00am

I’ll be happy to admit it up front; I’m a bit of a train nut. That doesn’t mean I know a lot about trains, it just means I’ve always had an interest in them. It’s probably because, when I grew up, trains were still in wide use across the country.





And, because of my love of trains, I included a train, as a major element, in my new book, Barney and the Runaway. That book will be coming out later this fall.





Several years ago, while on a film production assignment up in Canada, I had the opportunity to ride on the Polar Bear Express. What great fun!




So, when my older brother Lane, and his wife Jill visited recently, I took them to the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Illinois.





This is America’s largest railway museum, with steam trains, streetcars, interurbans, and diesel trains. On holiday weekends, they bring out the big steam trains and make a ten-mile run.















On the day we were there, only electric trains were running. We went out on this interurban car for about ten miles, and then rode around the grounds on an electric streetcar.





Everywhere you look, at the museum, there are trains of every kind. And not just one or two, trains are everywhere.






There are so many, that several have to be kept out in the elements. Over 400 locomotives and rail cars are stored on the grounds. But the lucky trains are the ones that are kept in long barns where they are lovingly restored, mostly by volunteers.


Some of the steam locomotives are simply monstrosities. It hurts your neck to look up at them. My brother is over six feet tall. Just look at the massive wheel behind him. And this engine has several on each side.
















Hollywood often comes calling, when they need a train for their production. This train, the silver Zephyr, was used in the film, A League of Their Own. Many other productions are listed in the brochure.


You can read more about the museum at http://www.irm.org/   If you live anywhere near Union, Illinois, and if you care anything at all about trains, I encourage you to make the trip to the Illinois Railway Museum. You won’t be disappointed.


These are a couple of old railroad timetables in my collection. The Chicago NorthWestern is from April 24, 1949 and the Milwaukee Road is dated April-May 1938.

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