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Illinois Railway Museum

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Illinois Railway Museum Information


Mon - Fri: 11:00 am - 4:00 pm, Sat - Sun: 10:30 am - 5:00 pm

When to Go:
Spring and Fall months.

Age Restriction:

Nearest Transit:

Illinois Railway Museum

Quick Facts

  • The Illinois Railway Museum is the largest railroad museum in the United States.
  • Founded by a group of railroad enthusiasts in 1953, the Railway Museum Chicago commemorates the enormous impact that the railroad had on America.
  • The Railway Museum in Illinois has several operational trains and trolleys that guests can ride on.

7000 Olson Road
Union, IL 60180
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Illinois Railway Museum Photos

Illinois Railway Museum Hotel

*Some images shown above are not actual photos from the attraction, but category representations. Visit the attraction's web site for actual photos.

Illinois Railway Museum

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Take a Step Back in Time at the Illinois Railway Museum.

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Ticket Pricing

Prices Range From: $4.00 - $12.00


Features: The Illinois Railway Museum is located northwest of Chicago in Union, Illinois. Its mission is to demonstrate the vital role railroads have played in the growth of the Chicago area as well as the United States through the preservation and operation of railroad and mass transit rolling stock and the display of related artifacts in a realistic setting. These exhibits provide an interactive, educational experience for visitors of all ages. 

The Illinois Railway Museum is a Museum in Motion. Watch as a little red streetcar clangs across Depot Street on the car line, or as the thundering steam train whistles past on the mainline, or perhaps as the gleaming streamliner simply whispers by. These artifacts don't just sit there, they move! 

The Railway Museum Chicago operating demonstration railroad consists of two distinct divisions: the 5-mile long mainline, and the mile-long streetcar loop. Generally, steam, diesel and heavy electric trains run on the mainline, while streetcars run on the streetcar line. Interurban and elevated trains may operate on either division. The streetcar curves are too sharp for conventional railroad equipment, and the streetcars are too slow for mainline service. The hybrid interurbans and "L" cars can operate in either environment. 

Note that the Railway Museum Illinois has been used in commercials and films such as "A League of Their Own" and "The Babe".

Why We Go: The Railway Museum Illinois is the largest railway museum in the United States, and it is the perfect  place for a family day out. Kids and adults will enjoy the more than 400 pieces of vintage railway machinery that have all been painstakingly restored. 

  • Hands-On Fun: During the warmer months, the Railway Museum Illinois has several steam and diesel trains, and a vintage street car that are fully operational. Guests can take a ride on these  antique machines to experience what old-time transport used to be like.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine Festival: The yearly event is held in August and draws Thomas the Tank Engine fans from across the country. Take a ride on Thomas himself, and enjoy a number of other Thomas the Tank Engine related activities at the Illinois Railway Museum.  

Inside Knowledge: While the Railway Museum in Illinois is open year-round, most guests prefer to visit in Spring and Fall when the weather is milder. The trains are located in barns which are not air conditioned or heated, and walking from barn to barn could get difficult in the middle of a Chicago winter. 

Do's and Don'ts:

  • Do Bring the Kids: The Railway Museum Illinois is a wonderful family-friendly attraction. There is so much for kids to see and do, including taking a ride on one of the fully-functional trains that run around the museum's property.
  • Do Make a Donation: The Railway Museum Chicago is run by a group of volunteers who rely on visitor donations to be able to restore vintage trains, and keep them running. 
  • Don't Forget to Pick Up a Souvenir: The Railway Museum Illinois gift shop is a great place to buy a little memento. The shop features a variety of railway-themed souvenirs, including home decor, clothing, and children's toys.
  • Don't Forget the Camera: The Railway Museum Illinois has plenty of photographic opportunities. Make sure to get a snap of the Chicago Surface Lines 84 - the oldest operational trolley in the world.