Illinois Railway Museum
The mission of the Illinois Railway Museum 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.
It has always been a prime desire of the Museum and its membership to display our historic collections to the public-at-large. Throughout IRM's existence, there has been a concerted outreach to the general public to gain recognition, acceptance and support.
As a relatively new organization, some of the amenities normally expected of the fully funded major museums may not as yet exist here at Union. Rest assured that our goal is to make this presentation as professional as possible. With time, member "sweat-equity" and public participation substituting for full funding, our goal will be reached, as the attaining of our current recognized status will attest. Having invested almost forty years to establish our presence and recreate the railroad environment, the Illinois Railway Museum is remaining true to its goals and planning for the future!
Free parking. Plenty of space for kids to roam. Train rides included in the ticket price. Nice electrical car, can be used as a shuttle. Enough trains in the barns to keep you busy for a while. Pizza was not good and $5 for a reheated cheese only slice is too much... A whole pizza is $30+ which could be acceptable only for a freshly baked one with 3+ toppings... on the other hand ice cream was only a buck and there was A/C which is big relief in the hot weather...
If you're a train enthusiast I'm sure this place is great. If you're just curious it might not be worth the visit. Could be greatly improved if there were more/more engaging information on what you're actually looking at. I personally was interested in the technical aspects and evolution of trains and the reasons why, but wasn't able to learn much. Mostly it's just "this is the x train, which ran on y line during z time span". Though on the other hand the staff are quite willing to share stories if you ask.
Very nice collection of trains and railway memorabilia that will appeal to the train lover in all of us. The park is clean and well maintained, and they are adding new buildings and features. There were only two disappointing features, 1) the gentlemen running the train ride (they have a 40-minute diesel or electric train trip included with park ticket) wasn't very informative or engaging 2) the small town diner which is charming has horrible...HORRIBLE cafeteria style food. Do yourself a favor and pack a picnic and eat it on the grounds. There are picnic tables in the open and under pavilions, plus open areas to picnic on the ground.
If you're a fan of trains, then IRM is definitely worth the trip. Not your typical "stay behind the rope and don't touch anything" museum experience...IRM lets you walk around and in some cases inside every exhibit. My only real wish item is that the cabs of some of the locomotives be accessible, as only passenger cars are available for walk-through.
I have never been to the museum as of yet but I had the pleasure with working with Ed Rosengren for some years doing some print advertising. If the place is half as good as Ed you are in for a treat. Thank for everything Ed your the best!