Illinois Railway Museum Discussion

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Illinois Railway Museum Discussion

Postby polybalt » Sun Jun 20, 2010 3:35 pm

I thought I would start a general Topic about the Illinois Railway Museum. I enjoy the posts to the Seashore Trolley Museum Discussion and others like it and thought an IRM topic might generate some interesting posts and discussions.

From reading this Board I get the impression most of the participants are East Coasters ( as am I) and might not be familiar with IRM. It is located in the small town of Union, IL 60 miles west-northwest of Chicago. It started as purely an electric railway museum, but now 2/3 of the equipment is from conventional steam and diesel railroads. The collection is huge, well over 400 locomotives and cars. Trains of electric interurbans and rapid transit cars operate on the mainline along with diesel-hauled railroad passenger trains. There has been no steam operation in several years, but work on several engines is underway. Streetcars are operated on a separate streetcar loop around the property.

The thing I like most about IRM is to ride an electric train on the main line. The line is 4.5 miles long and fully block signalled. Diesel trains are operated at 30 mph but the lighter electric cars are allowed 40 mph. This means North Shore and CA&E interurban trains run for several minutes in full series and the CTA rapid transit cars can run full out long enough to get up to balancing speed (which is about 40). There is nothing like sitting at an open window, feel the breeze and hear the motors and gears singing at speed. There are several cab ride videos on YouTube. My favorite is one taken from the front of one of the CTA Rapid Transit PCC cars ( even thougth PCC's don't make any motor noise!) See what you think.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRAv-tFPTV4

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Re: Illinois Railway Museum Discussion

Postby Otto Vondrak » Sun Jun 20, 2010 6:42 pm

Of interest, two articles contributed by IRM volunteer Frank Hicks:

http://railroad.net/articles/railfanning/cae309/

http://railroad.net/articles/railfanning/cae308/

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Re: Illinois Railway Museum Discussion

Postby byte » Mon Jun 21, 2010 12:48 pm

polybalt wrote:My favorite is one taken from the front of one of the CTA Rapid Transit PCC cars ( even thougth PCC's don't make any motor noise!) See what you think.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRAv-tFPTV4


That's my video right there - I'm an IRM volunteer with the rapid transit stuff (mostly PCC "L" cars) although I shot that video a year or so prior to volunteering at the museum.

Anyone with an interest in electric traction should come out for our Trolley Parade on the 4th of July. Some new things which were recently purchased from the Trolleyville collection will be seen doing runbys, possibly including a four-car CA&E steel train.
That old car might be worth money!
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Re: Illinois Railway Museum Discussion

Postby chuchubob » Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:23 pm

I visited the IRM only once. It is an outstanding museum. I would visit much more frequently if I could get there by train, since that's how I travel to Chicago.
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Re: Illinois Railway Museum Discussion

Postby byte » Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:05 pm

The state government (namely, the governor himself) have stated that they intend to begin work on Amtrak service through McHenry County on the UP line right next to the museum later this year, with the goal of getting it up and running in 2011. Will they put a stop in the small town of Union? Probably not. However, getting the track up to passenger standards (i.e., 79 mph) means Metra is more likely to come sauntering on through town at some point, which would be an easy hour-and-a-half ride from downtown. Another benefit of Amtrak coming through town is that the museum's grade crossing at Olson road (at the entrance to the campus) will likely get gates paid for with state money, because the UP line is right next to it and it would be unsafe to allow a fast passenger train blow through a crossbuck-only RR crossing. This translates to a safer operating environment for the museum (there have been a few close calls there over the years with careless motorists) and higher speeds over the crossing.
That old car might be worth money!
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Re: Illinois Railway Museum Discussion

Postby polybalt » Tue Jun 22, 2010 8:47 am

I visited the IRM only once. It is an outstanding museum. I would visit much more frequently if I could get there by train, since that's how I travel to Chicago.
chuchubob


It is too bed there is no public transportation to IRM, yet (see above post by byte). The best you can do now is to take the Union Pacific-Northwest Line of Metra (Chicago's commuter rail system) to Crystal Lake and get a cab. Crystal Lake is 14 miles from IRM. Trains run every hour on Saturdays and every two hours on Sundays from late morning to late evening.

If you are willing to rent a car, they can be rented at Union Station when you get off Amtrak, or you avoid downtown traffic and probably get a cheaper rental by catching the CTA rapid transit line out to O'Hare airport and renting a car there. It's about 40 miles from O'Hare to IRM.
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Re: Illinois Railway Museum Discussion

Postby Mr rt » Wed Jun 23, 2010 8:44 am

My son, in Rockford, has heard about the PAX extension plans & can't wait until he can catch a train to Chicago from there.
Right now service to most locations in Chicago stinks, and requires multiple trains & buses to get anywhere :-(
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Re: Illinois Railway Museum Discussion

Postby ohioriverrailway » Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:30 pm

If you come out on the 4th of July weekend, you'll also get to see a small G gauge railway set up next to the station. There's about a half-dozen of us converge on IRM to play with our 1:24 trolleys right next to the 1:1 versions! We've been doing this for a number of years and the IRM folks are most gracious hosts.
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Re: Illinois Railway Museum Discussion

Postby polybalt » Tue Jun 29, 2010 12:17 pm

Restoration and backdating of a 1907 Chicago Rapid Transit control trailer has just been completed. It operated in reguar passenger service last weekend as shown here: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_YGfyS0_koOE/T ... GP5470.JPG

The car is shown ready for loading at IRM's rapid transit station, relocated to Union from a CTA line many years ago.

The photo is posted on the HIcks Carworks Blog, a great place to keep up with what's going on with the electtric cars at IRM, particularly the wooden CA&E cars: http://hickscarworks.blogspot.com/
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Re: Illinois Railway Museum Discussion

Postby Mr rt » Thu Jul 01, 2010 12:44 pm

Peter, Thanks I bookmarked it ... Will be in town 7/9 thru 7/13 ... intend to drop by ...
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Re: Illinois Railway Museum Discussion

Postby polybalt » Sat Jul 03, 2010 10:50 am

Thanks I bookmarked it ... Will be in town 7/9 thru 7/13 ... intend to drop by ...


Any of those days would be fine. If you have a choice, pick a day without rain! You can tell what equipment should be operating by going to the two-month rolling calendar on the http://www.irm.org website and clicking on the day in question. More will be running on the weekend, but weekdays are fine too. That Saturday might be the best, since the Steam Shop is most active on Saturdays and the Electric and Diesel shops will be in use both days. Although the shops are technically off limits, there is a good chance someone will show you around if you ask. Likewise if you want to see the trolley busses, stick your head in the door of either garage if the door is open and ask to look around.

Don't forget that there are two other operating museums nearby. Fox River Tolley Museum in South Elgin is less than 25 miles away and East Troy is about 50 miles north. I think both are only open on the weekends.

I hope you enjoy your trip!

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Re: Illinois Railway Museum Discussion

Postby polybalt » Wed Jul 07, 2010 3:42 pm

Anyone with an interest in electric traction should come out for our Trolley Parade on the 4th of July. Some new things which were recently purchased from the Trolleyville collection will be seen doing runbys, possibly including a four-car CA&E steel train.


Reports indicate the July 4 Trolley Parade was a great success--I wish I could have been there. First of all it didn't rain! There were 31 electric cars passing the reviewing stand, including: 5 streetcars, 9 rapid transit cars, 13 interurbans and four locomotives or work cars. Four trolley buses also participated.

Although the hoped-for 4-car Chicago, Aurorao & Elgin interurban train didn't make it, there were two three-car CA&E consists running in MU, one with wood cars and one with steel cars. ( CA&E wood and steel cars can't MU with each other). Interestingly these six cars were built by six different car builders!

Three of the five CA&E cars purchased from Trolleyville were refurbished and repainted and were part of the MU trains. The Vera Cruz open car from Trolleyville also ran in the parade. This was the first parade for the two NYCTA R-28 subway cars purchased some years ago as well.
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Re: Illinois Railway Museum Discussion

Postby RailFanChicago » Wed Jul 07, 2010 4:40 pm

Very Very nice museum.

I visited twice with my kids. We got to ride on the Nebraska Zephyr...


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Re: Illinois Railway Museum Discussion

Postby polybalt » Mon Jul 12, 2010 11:28 am

Next weekend is the annual Diesel Days extravaganza at IRM, when the diesel team pus on their version of the Trolley Parade. This is quite an event (held both days with minor changes) with 20 diesels scheduled to appear in the parade, most of which will be fired up and running. If it's hot out, you can cool off by taking a ride on the air conditioned Nebraska Zephyr or a train of C&NW Bi-level commuter cars.

The diesel crew likes to run a few demonstration freight trains, and the freight car curator reports that more than 20 freight cars and cabooses have passed their annual mechanical inspections and should be running both days.

The Union Pacific Railroad is expected to send several of their specially painted units for display and photos to IRM for the weekend as well.

If you are in the area -- join the fun!
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Re: Illinois Railway Museum Discussion

Postby Mr rt » Mon Jul 12, 2010 11:46 am

Peter,
Was there this past week-end (July 10th & 11th).
Three trains working:
- CA&E two car set
- Burlington SD24 & two coaches
- CTA trolley going around the loop
Also saw the steam crew moving a wheel set with a crane & went to back of trolley barn to see CTA elevated being worked on.
Went with my son, his wife & two young kids ... we had a great time.
(didn't try to find either you or Frank Hicks, we just did a tourist/visitor thing.
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