By Aaron Isaacs, HRA editor
All photos from Illinois Railway Museum
The Illinois Railway Museum is by far the biggest in North America and it would take quite a few smaller museums together to equal their restoration and capital activities. The most recent issue of the IRM’s Rail & Wire magazine recaps the latest projects, which I’ll summarize here.
A replica Main Street is being built on the west edge of the property. A block of street with a streetcar track running down the middle has been paved. The track anticipates the future expansion of the streetcar loop. The museum entrance and admission booth has been moved there.
On the south side of the street, across from the museum entrance, is vintage Schroeder Store that now houses the visitor center and museum store. The pair of baggage cars that housed the old store next to the depot have been removed.
Under construction on Main Street is a multi-purpose building that will house the Pullman Library, which is being moved from its remote location in an old bank building in downtown Union, a mile or so away. The building will also have a model railroad displays and the offices of the Milwaukee Road Historical Association, which assisted IRM on several restoration projects.
An inspection pit and a re-poured concrete floor have been added to the Steam Shop.
Barn 3, which dates from the 1970s, has new steel siding and doors, 16 repaired posts and a new concrete floor inside its west entrance.
850 ties have been replaced around the property. Tracks 23 and 24 have been rebuilt with new rail. Work has begun on track construction for the future Barn 12.
The East Union depot is being remodeled and winterized, including the installation of two new furnaces.
Insulated wood-sided boxcar URTX-Milwaukee Road #26640 (GATX 1931) has been restored.
A three-car freight train is being set up for interior displays, which required their restoration inside and out, plus interior wiring. They are Fruit Growers Express reefer #55407, Santa Fe stock car #60394 (Penn 1929) and Illinois Central caboose #9792 (IC Shops 1940).