Chicago Area Steam

Page Contents: [The Illinois Railway Museum] [The Chicago Historical Society] [The Museum of Science and Industry] [Bensenville] [Other Chicago Area Web Pages]

The Illinois Railway Museum

The Illinois railway museum has gone to great lengths to preserve steam locomotives. They have a history of providing a home to steam locomotives that for whatever reason were no longer wanted at their respective locations. I haven't kept count, but over the past few years they have probably been the new home for at least five steam locomotives from across the US. A few of these recent additions include CB&Q Hudson (4-6-4) 3007 (from Atlantic, IA), AT&SF Northern (4-8-4) 2903 (from the Museum of Science and Industry), and T&NO 2-10-2 975 (from Beaumont, TX).

Roughly half of the steam locomotive collection at the IRM is kept indoors in long sheds. There are four tracks (I think) per shed on which the equipment is parked. While keeping the equipment indoors provides excellent protection against the whether, it also makes it difficult to photograph the equipment (as seen in some of the photos below). I visited the Illinois Railway Museum in 1998. Many of the photos seen below are from that visit.

Big Steam

Two of the largest steam locomotives (at the time of my visit) at the Illinois Railway Museum are shown here. On the left is Milwaukee Road northern number 265. This is the only surviving sister engine to Northstar Rail's #261 which operates out of Minneapolis, MN. On the right is Norfolk & Western's class Y3a 2050. Built in 1923, this 2-8-8-2 could generate 114,154 lbs tractive effort running in compound expansion mode (136,985 simple). It had 3,400 HP and could move at 50 MPH. Notice the large front low-pressure cylinders.

GTW 8380

There is an interesting story behind the following two locomotives. In 1960 the Grand Trunk Western 8380 (pictured on the left) was one of 16 0-8-0s sent to the Northwestern Steel & Wire Co. in Sterling, IL to be scrapped. Up until 1964, the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy mikado 4963 (pictured below) was in revenue freight service on the Bevier & Southern.

The GTW 0-8-0s were in better shape than the CB&Q 0-6-0s that Northwestern Steel & Wire Co. were using. So instead of scrapping them, the NS&W scrapped their own 0-6-0s and started using the 0-8-0s instead.

CB&Q 4963

After being used as parts supply for the 4960, Richard Jensen acquired the 4963 in 1966 but lost it in a court battle in 1969. From 1970 on, it sat rusting away in a Chicago scrap yard (along with famous CB&Q northern 5632 which was cut up). To get 4963, in 1988, the Illinois Railway Museum worked out a trade which involved five of the GTW 0-8-0s. The 16 GTW 0-8-0s had been donated to the IRM but remained at Northwestern Steel & Wire. The three at NS&W were possibly the last operating steam locomotives in revenue service. Here is a table which will describe the fate of the 0-8-0s:
  1. 8314>| 1970 cut up for scrap
  2. 8373--->| donated to city of Sterling, IL (photo)
  3. 8376--->| donated to city of Amboy, IL
  4. 8315---->| Apr, 1980 cut up for scrap
  5. 8310----->| Jan, 1982 cut up for scrap
  6. 8325----->| Jan, 1982 cut up for scrap
  7. 8380------>| 1982 transferred to IRM (photo)
  8. 8327------->| 1983 transferred to Bandana Square, St. Paul, MN (photo)
  9. 8306----------->| 1988 traded to Chicago scrap yard in trade for 4963
  10. 8328----------->| 1988 traded to Chicago scrap yard in trade for 4963
  11. 8372----------->| 1988 traded to Chicago scrap yard in trade for 4963
  12. 8375----------->| 1988 traded to Chicago scrap yard in trade for 4963
  13. 8379----------->| 1988 traded to Chicago scrap yard in trade for 4963
  14. 8300--------------->| on display in Independence, IA (photo)
  15. 8305--------------->| being cosmetically restored in Quincy, IL (photo)
  16. 8374--------------->| disassembled in Geneva, NE (photo)

The three GTW/Northwestern Steel & Wire 0-8-0s in Galt, Illinois are on a siding behind a grain elevator. They look like they're in terrible shape. They're all covered in rust, with boiler and cylinder jackets rusted right through in many places. Two of them have also had their air pumps removed among other things. The other one, 8300, appears to be in the best shape of the three, but she still has half a load of coal in her tender, so the bunker is badly rusted out. The other two were converted to oil firing at some point. There is also a small Kansas City Southern Vanderbilt tender located there. This tender is most likely one that was used on the 8328. Due to clearance considerations with the cab roof of 8328, the tender was equipped with a buckeye couple where the drawbar used to be and was attached backwards to the 8328! On the back of 8300s tender, someone (presumably at NS&W when donating the engines to the IRM) had chalked the word "SAVE". Looking at these derelict engines now, that seems pretty ironic.

LSI 35 (with a Tender Booster)

If you look very carefully at the front truck on the tender of this Lake Superior & Ishpeming consolidation (I know it is hard to see) you will see a side rod. That is a give-away that this locomotive has a tender booster. The Hocking Valley RR in Nelsonville, Ohio operates sister locomotive LS&I #33. This locomotive also had a tender booster, however it was removed and scrapped after its first year of operation the tourist railroad.

Other Steam at the IRM

This mogul had many owners and wore many numbers including 3706 and 109. Originally an Illinois Central locomotive, it was last owned by Bevier & Southern.

This is former Lehigh & New England 0-6-0 number 207.

Union Electric Company fireless 0-4-0 number 4.

Public Service Company 0-6-0T 7

A Baldwin

This the only surviving Baldwin DT-6-6-2000. The Minneapolis, Northfield & Southern had five of these locomotives:

The DT-6-6-2000s had two 1000 HP engines (one under each hood). They were 74 feet long and weighed 355,000 lbs.

The Chicago Historical Society

This 4-2-0 locomotive (displayed tenderless on the second floor of the Chicago Historical Society as number 7) was built by Baldwin in 1837 for the Utica & Schenetady. The U&S named it "Alert". After nine years it was sold to the Michigan Central where both a tender and cab were added. In 1848 it was sold to the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad (which later became the Chicago and Northwestern) making it the first railway locomotive to operate in Chicago. They renamed it "Pioneer".

The tender for the Pioneer is located at a CA&E station in Villa Park. Many years ago there was a replica coach that the C&NW had included with the Pioneer when it was used for display (at railroad fairs) which used to be owned by the L&RyHS and stored in Riverside. The replica coach has been moved at least 20 years ago and its current location is unknown.

The Museum of Science and Industry

In 1993, these two locomotives were displayed (outside) at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. Pictured first is New York Central & Hudson River Railroad's 999. Built specifically for New York Central's "Exposition Flyer" of 1893 and one of 62 locomotives displayed at Chicago's Columbian Exposition, it was the first vehicle in the world to exceed 100 miles per hour. It set the speed record on May 10, 1893 on a run between Batavia and Buffalo, NY. The large drivers (86 inch) were later replaced by smaller (70 inch) ones. The locomotive pictured on the right (now displayed at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, IL) is Santa Fe's 2903 (one of the 2900 class). The 2900 class was unique. At 64'-5" (engine) + 55'-6" (tender) = 119'-11" (total) and 510,000 pounds, they were the longest (engine + tender) and heaviest Northerns ever built. Six of the 2900 class survive today: Inside the Museum are several small locomotives. One of them is an old Illinois Central locomotive named "Mississippi".

Stephenson's 0-2-2 Rocket (this is a replica) won a competition for locomotive power at the Rainhill Trials on the Manchester & Liverpool Railway. Capable of 30 mph with 30 passengers.


Chicago Gravel number 18, an 0-6-0, is on display in Veterans Park in Bensenville, IL.

Other Chicago Area Steam Web Pages