Posts Tagged ‘Illinois Railway Museum’

Steam Saturday: N&W Derelict Steamer Managed to Escape to a Museum

September 11, 2021

Back in late December 1972, a derelict steam locomotive was sitting at the Armco Steel plant in Middletown, Ohio, where it had once worked as a stationary boiler. All signs pointed toward the steamer heading for a scrap yard.

That rough looking steamer was Norfolk & Western Y3a No. 2050, a 2-8-8-2 Alco built in 1923.

It was built to a USRA standard design for heavy drag freight service in the Virginia and West Virginia mountains.

It worked for the N&W between 1923 and 1959 before winding up at Armco, which owned it until 1976 when it was donated to the Illinois Railway Museum.

IRM cosmetically restored the 2050, which the IRM website notes is just one of two 2-8-8-2 mallets still in existence.

Although no longer operational, the 2050 still can be enjoyed at the museum.

The 2050 escaped the scrapper’s torch which goes to show that you never know how a locomotive you are capturing on film or megapixels today might turn out down the road.

To view a photograph of the 2050 as it appears today at IRM, visit

To see an image of the front of the locomotive visit

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Oddball Sightings on NS in Cleveland on Friday

July 22, 2017

On Friday afternoon Norfolk Southern train 17N came through Cleveland.

What made it special was an ex-Conrail E33 electric engine, No. 4601. Originally built for the Virginian Railway, it was on its way to the Illinois Railroad museum.

I also got the L13, which runs between Bellevue and Rockport and return. The past few weeks it has had a pair of former Burlington Northern SD60M engines.

These are somewhat oddballs on the NS diesel roster the past few years. Along with new locomotive purchases NS also has bought several hundred used locomotives.

Called tryclops by railfans because they have an unusual third window and also nose headlights where the NS standard is above the cab, another bonus is they are consecutively not numbered 6807 and 6808.

The 17N was at Sheldon Rd and the L13 was across from Hopkins airport.

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon

The Steam Locomotive Was a Pleasant Surprise

July 10, 2014



Another part of my Chicagoland trip last weekend was a visit to the Illinois Railway Museum.  It was supposed to be electric weekend but since there wasn’t a very big crowd (this was Friday July 4) only a couple of electrics were running: two streetcars on the streetcar loop and two sets of interurban cars on the mainline.

Still, the interurbans were nice and included one pair each of Chicago, Aurora & Elgin, and North Shore cars.

Also running and very much a surprise since it wasn’t advertised was Frisco 1630. This is a 2-10-0 steam engine fresh out of a rebuild.

It was hauling a short four-car train reminiscent of local passenger trains dating from the classic steam era (1920s-1940s).

Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon







C&NW 1689 Settling in at Illinois Museum

July 1, 2014

A former Chicago & North Western Alco RSD-5 that once operated on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad and was displayed in Bellevue, has settled in at its new home.

C&NW No. 1689, which has been owned by Gary Baloun since 1981, will now reside at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union.

In addition to the CVSR, the locomotive has seen service over the years on the Chicago Madison & Northern, Western Maryland Scenic Railroad and the Northern Central Railway Dinner Train.

It was stored at the Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum between summer 2011 and June 2014.

Norfolk Southern moved the 1689 to Chicago in a ferry move of diesel locomotives returning to Union from the streamliners festival in North Carolina in late May.

No. 1689 was built in April 1954 as part an order for seven units, Nos. 1684-1690. Five units, including No. 1689, were equipped steam generators for passenger service, while Nos. 1686-1688 had both steam generators and dynamic brakes and raised short hoods, earning them the nickname “Hammerheads.”

On the C&NW, No. 1689 spent most of its life working on the North Western’s “Alco Line” across southern Minnesota and central South Dakota until its 1981 retirement.
In a post on the museum’s blog, Baloun said he plans to donate the 1689 to the museum. The locomotive is serviceable, but needs batteries.

Other Surprises Made up for Our Disappointment

September 2, 2013


I went to the Illinois Railroad Museum on Saturday.  My prime target was Union Pacific Centennial No. 6936, which we heard would be running.

It was on loan from UP. The IRM also has a Centennial but it does not run.

 Well No. 6936 had brake issues so it was just on display but not running. That was disappointing there were other surprises that more than made up for it.

 A mix of trains were operating, including the Nebraska Zephyr, a favorite of mine.  Also, some CA&E interurban cars that used to be at Cleveland’s Trolleyville were out on the line.

Little Joe 803 was running – I was under the impression that it does not run – so that was also quite a surprise.

 Best yet was the Leviathan, a 4-4-0 steamer that recently was built by Cooke Locomotive Company. 

They also built The York, which is running in Pennsylvania. Cooke is currently building a replica of the Lincoln Funeral train.

 The weather was overcast in the afternoon, but not raining, and the sun did come for out for a little while.

After many photos in the museum we went to a private crossing for some mainline action.  These made for some good time machine type photos. 

 For those who haven’t visited or don’t know, the IRM has about 5 miles of former inturuban right of way that is electrified. The museum can run electric, diesel and steam so there is something for everybody.

 Article and Photographs by Todd Dillon







Diesels on Parade at Illinois Railway Museum

July 28, 2013


The Illinois Railway Museum in Union, Ill., held a diesel days celebration on Saturday, July 20.  The museum had about 20 engines out for a parade including CB&Q Silver Pilot, an ex-AT&SF Alco RSD15 “alligator,” a Milwaukee Road Fairbanks Morse switcher and many others. Also on display but not in the parade was my favorite, the MNS “blue dragon,” a Lima Hamilton Center cab.

Photographs by Todd Dillon