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Chicago Great Western Railroad Museum in Elizabeth, Illinois And More 5/26/2022

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth and I awoke up and started our day in the usual way before we ate breakfast in the hotel then checked out and I drove us to Amboy, the first stop of the day.

Amboy Depot Museum information

The Amboy Depot Museum is located in a former depot and division headquarters of the Illinois Central Railroad located in Amboy, Illinois. The building is an architecturally-unique two-story building built of brick and cut Joliet limestone and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been completely restored both inside and out, and includes the original brick tarmac surrounding the depot and the grounds of the former railyard, now preserved as a city park. Also reconstructed were the distinctive chimney caps on the building's eight chimneys, fully restoring the building to its original exterior configuration. Within the museum are artifacts of both the history of Amboy and the Illinois Central Railroad. The museum complex also contains a freight house with additional artifacts, a fully restored one-room country schoolhouse, a retired steam engine and a caboose.

We parked the car and started our picture taking.

Illinois Central Amboy station built in 1867.

On the west side of the museum is a steam engine.

To the north of the station is the Illinois Central freight, house built in 1904.


Grand Trunk Western 0-8-0 8376 built by Baldwin in 1929. The engine is one of sixteen 0-8-0s the Grand Trunk Western sold for scrap in 1960 to the Northwestern Steel & Wire (NS&W) Company in Sterling, Ilinois. Rather than cut them up, however, NS&W chose to use them as switch engines in their yard, and some survived in service into the early 1980s. 8376 was renumbered 76 under NS&W ownership and operated in daily service until the mill owner's death in 1980. After retirement in 1981, it was donated to the City of Amboy and placed on display at the Amboy Depot Museum along with Norfolk & Western caboose 518125, built in the N&W shops in Roanoke, Virginia in 1915.

There is a caboose behind this engine.

Norfolk & Western wooden caboose 518125.

National Register plaque on the station.

Children of the American Revolution plaque about the Orphan Train.

Placed in honor of the Orphan Train.

This plaque is about the founding of the union that would become the Order of Railway Conductors and Brakeman.

For 100 Years of Illinois Central, Mainline of America plaque and relief outline of the railway's route.

Two sides of this clock have the steam engine.

The other two sides show the Amboy station. Since the station itself was closed, we departed here and drove over to Sterling.

Grand Trunk Western 0-8-0 8373 built by Baldwin in 1929. This engine is one of sixteen 0-8-0s that the Grand Trunk Western sold for scrap in 1960 to the Northwestern Steel & Wire Company in Sterling, IL. Rather than cut them up, however, NS&W chose to use them as switch engines in their yard and some survived in service into the early 1980s. 8373 was renumbered 73 under NS&W ownership and operated in daily service until the mill owner's death in 1980. After retiring in 1981, it was donated to the Paul W. Dillon Home Museum in Sterling and is on display with Missouri Pacific steel cupola caboose 13252.

The engine and caboose.

Missouri Pacific steel cupola caboose 13252.

Missouri Pacific caboose 13252. Elizabeth and I then left but had one more stop here.

Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Sterling station built about 1890.

This sign show Burlington Northern ownership. The bulding is now used by the Sterling Chamber of Commerce.

A mural across the street from the Sterling station.

Information part of the mural. From here I drove to Elizabeth but we made one stop on the way to there.

Ferromax SD70ACe 4014 near Mt. Carroll. I drove the rest of the way to Chicago Great Western Railroad Museum in Elizabeth and parked. Neither of us had ever been here.

Chicago Great Western Railroad Museum

The sign by the street for this museum.

Great Western Railroad Museum information

The Depot museum is located in a former Chicago Great Western Railway station and focuses on the the railroads of northwestern Illinois, prioritizing the Chicago Great Western. The Depot Museum has an extensive library with over one thousand railroad books covering nearly every America railroad from past to present, plus railroads from many other countries. Thousands of railroad artifacts are displayed in the museum's collection. Numerous N-scale, HO-scale, and G-scale model railroad layouts operate fully inside the Depot Museum. A full-size Milwaukee Road caboose, located next to the Depot Museum, provides a unique addition with even more displays housed inside.

Sitting on a bench was our host, Gerald Speer, the curator, and we passed him our cards.

Great Western Railroad Elizabeth station built in 1888.

Milwaukee Road caboose 02034 built in 1949 as Milwaukee Road 2034.

This is proof that the station was built before the automobile; leftover from the days of travelling on horseback.

Great Western Milepost marker C 103 from Chicago.

Great Western Milepost marker 373 from Chicago somewhere in Iowa. Now we all entered the museum in the Elizabeth station.

Model railroads of the Chicago Great Western.

Signal bridges, children's toys and a map of the Village of Elizabeth.

Books and other railroad memorabelia.

Pictures and general memorabelia.

The ticket window and items for sale.

Chicago Great Western Railroad crew members sign-in sheet.

Items for sale or to give away.

Elizabeth Garage Calendar for 1919.

The Station Agents office.

Another view of this part of the museum.

No station agent's desk was complete without a typewriter.

Paintings of various Chicago Great Western stations.

Steam pictures above the window and stock certificates.

Historic pictures of the area show the railway history.

Railway and other books as well as 1933 steam engine model.

Atchsion, Topeka and Santa Fe system map.

Railroad plates for sale and a map of railroad map of Illinois.

More items for sale.

Telegrapher's office and other items for sale.

Santa Fe "All The Way" area of the station, part of the fallen flag display.

The Great Northern section.

Chicago, Burlington and Quincy and Burlington Northern Railroad section of the fallen flag display.

Burlington Railroad and the predecessor railroads of the BNSF.

Union Pacific, Illinois Central, Rock Island and Canadian National Railway display.

Railroads that made up the Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern and CSX railroad, and a 1950 vs. current Amtrak route map.

Locomotive horns, bells and a switch key.

Railroad mugs and pictures.

Chicago Great Western plus Soo Line railroad display.

Chicago Great Western Railroad history display.

Milwaukee Road and Canadian Pacific fallen flag area in the station.

Milwaukee Road display.

Map of the Chicago Great Western Railroad and an oops.

Milwaukee Road and Elizabeth 125 years old display.

This museum was a feast for the eyes, including above eye-level.

Chicago Great Western Railroad display.

Some of the hundreds of railroad books that this museum owns.

This came from the Elizabeth post office.

The Illinois Central Dunleith Tunnel in East Dubuque.

The Chicago Great Western Winston Tunnel in Wisconsin display.

Abandoned tracks and tunnels.

Abandoned tracks, tunnels and railroad books.

Mail slots, railroad books and pictures.

Just part of this museum's collection of books.

The Chicago Great Western Railroad and Amtrak brochures and menus.

Chicago Great Western Railroad menus, china and silverware.

Dining Car display.

Dining Upstairs book, lantern and a bell.

Timetables and railroad memorabelia.

Amtrak display in this museum.

Amtrak and Metra display.

Railroads of the United States and Canada.

More railroad memorabelia.

Insulators and a gun.

Safety deposit boxes.

A 1927 railroad map of Illinois.

A railroad crossing crossbuck.

United States mail bags.

Whistle signals display.

American Flyer and Lionel Trains display.

The places trains could take you.

More railroad memorabelia.

Lionel train layout.

The museum's collection of railroad history in its many forms is much larger than we expected.

Chicago Great Western signal head.

A station bench.

Museum scene.

Elizabeth station in model form.

Across the road is the Commercial Hotel built in 1884. Gerry then took us over to the Milwaukee Road caboose.

This Chicago Great Western signal is from Elk Grove, Iowa.

BN 1987 and a Chicago and North Western calendar and saw blades.

Tools of the railroad man.

Two kinds of trunks for baggage.

Seat in the bay window of this caboose.

A Fred freight rear-end device.

The kitchen area of the caboose.

The stovepipe.

Pot belly stove in this caboose.

Luggage, hand cart and a crossbuck.

Tools of a train man.

More tools and Chicago and North Western Safety First bandana.

A picture from September 17, 1921.

An early toilet used in cabooses, this one from Woodbine, Illinois.

More tools of the trade. Elizabeth and I thanked Gerald for having us here today and it had been a great visit to this museum. We left for Galena, our next stop on this trip.

Illinois Central Galena station built in 1857. We crossed the Mississippi River into Dubuque and wanted to visit the station, part of a Mississippi River museum but a freight train was blocking the grade crossing that we needed to use. So we decided to head on to Manchester.

Illinois Central Manchester station. From here we went to Hardee's for lunch before I drove Elizabeth over Oelwein for her first visit.