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  • February 25, 2024 8:53 PM | Jacob Goldberg (Administrator)

    The car barn continues to buzz with activity through the winter, with a lot of work going on to restore Chicago Aurora & Elgin car 316.

    Kathleen and James cut wire conduit to wire up the new heating strips

    The new heater strips and the replacement conduit and wiring that Jeff has been working to install to replace the old wiring so the car can have safe heating

    The passenger windows have been replaced and are carefully being fitted into place after the exterior belt rail and interior windowsills have been replaced

    A sneak peak of the arch windows and the interior of the car

    A lot of work has also been going on under the car, but that will have to wait for another post. Stay tuned!

    Also, we will have our first event of the year starting in just three weeks: the Bunny Burrow Express! Stop on by for a trip to the Easter Bunny's secret burrow, an Easter egg hunt, and a visit from the Easter Bunny!

    More Information

  • February 08, 2024 2:55 PM | Jacob Goldberg (Administrator)

    It may be the off season, but that doesn't mean the work stops! Our car department is always busy restoring and maintaining our historic fleet, and one of the cars currently being restored is Chicago Aurora & Elgin car 316. In order to prepare us for the next stage of restoration, Mike Gilles cleaned out the interior of the car.

  • January 28, 2024 1:49 PM | Jacob Goldberg (Administrator)

    All good things must come to an end, and that includes the 2023 season, which culminated in the sold-out Polar Express. After four action-packed weekends, our crews took a well-deserved break, but we soon sprang back into action last weekend to start getting us ready for the new season. Our first order of business was to take down all the decorations we had up for Polar Express, and we were not deterred by the cold weather.

    Doug takes down the clock tower

    Fred carries down some of the wooded connecting pieces

    With that, everything is off the hill, other than a lot of footprints from all of our work

    And of course, we ended with a group photo from our dedicated work crew

    Thank you to everyone who attended Polar Express, and we hope you'll return for another great year in our 2024 season. Things won't be quiet for long though, with Bunny Train tickets now available! Click the link below for more information and to buy tickets. See you there!

    Bunny Burrow Express Information and Tickets

  • December 28, 2023 2:35 PM | Jacob Goldberg (Administrator)

    As we finish off the season and prepare for 2024, it's time to reflect on all that we did in 2023. It was certainly a big year for us, both with our normal operations, special events, and all the new things that happened. Without further ado, here's a brief recap:

    CA&E 458 Restoration

    After years of hard work, we restored Chicago, Aurora, and Elgin (aka Roarin' Elgin/Great Third Rail) car number 458 into service. The car only saw a little over a decade of service on the Great Third Rail before their abrupt shutdown of passenger operations, then sat idle for decades before we acquired and restored it. Thanks to the hard work of our car department, CA&E 458 is back in service and carrying passengers.

    Read more about CA&E 458


    As part of our new events this year, we hosted a weekend of beer, music, German food, and more.

    New Caboose

    We acquired our newest car, both in terms of how long we've had it and how recently it was built, this year. Former Soo Line caboose 117 entered our collection and is currently awaiting restoration.

    New Volunteers

    This year, we welcomed several new volunteers in both the operations department and the car department.

    Restoration of Wayne Depot

    After acquiring the former CA&E Wayne Depot, this year we restored and repainted it to the way it looked during CA&E operation. Wayne Depot can be seen by our parking lot, just east of Track 2 at the pedestrian crossing.

    Operation Lifesaver

    In late September, we set record attendance by partnering for the first time with Operation Lifesaver and providing both trolley rides and information on safety around railroad crossings. Remember: only cross train tracks at designated crossings, do not try to beat the gates, and if a vehicle ever gets stuck on the tracks, call the number on the blue sign to stop any trains headed that way.

    Hunter's Moon

    In addition to our beloved Ghost Story Train, we partnered with the Paranormal Mom's Society to put on the Hunter's Moon Event in late October.

    Ballet Folklórico Huehuecoyotl

    We harkened back to the days of trolley parks by partnering with Ballet Folklórico Huehuecoyotl and providing rides to their performance at Blackhawk, further enhancing the event with a local food truck.

    Polar Express Premier

    While the Polar Express has always been an extremely popular event, we offered an additional tier this year with the Polar Express Premier.

    Easter Bunny Train

    As is tradition, our first public event of the year was the Bunny Burrow Express, complete with an Easter egg hunt at Coleman and meeting up with the Easter Bunny at the Bunny Burrow.

    Rails to Victory

    We continued our always-popular Rails to Victory event, transporting passengers back to the days of World War II, complete with battle re-enactments and displays of military and civilian life.

    Ghost Story Train

    In October, we brought back our ever-popular Ghost Story Train. Passengers got to ride to Blackhawk, make s'mores, and hear some spooky ghost stories.

    Polar Express

    A year at our museum wouldn't be complete without our beloved Polar Express. As usual, tickets were completely sold out. Passengers were treated to a cup of hot chocolate and cookies, a reading of the Polar Express book, live acting of scenes from the book and movie, Christmas carol sing-alongs, and of course a visit from Santa.

    Caboose Train

    In the fall, we brought back the favorite of many kids, the Caboose Train, allowing passengers to ride in a former Illinois Central caboose on a real freight train, hauled by Locomotive 5, which formerly hauled freight on our very own tracks for the Aurora, Elgin, and Fox River Electric Company. We also welcomed two new operators on Locomotive 5 this year, expanding our available crew.

    We would like to thank all of our volunteers, members, and visitors who made this happen. We can't do it without you, and we are looking forward to an even more amazing 2024. See you there!

  • December 15, 2023 2:11 PM | Jacob Goldberg (Administrator)

    One of the founding members of our museum, Wendell was born in Orange, NJ on March 22, 1930, to Joy Franklin Dillinger and Gladys Grabow Dillinger and lived in New Jersey until 1937 when his father was transferred from Bell Laboratories to Western Electric in Cicero, IL, both AT&T entities.  Growing up in Riverside, IL he became fascinated with the Chicago and West Towns streetcar line near his home.  By the time he was old enough to apply to West Towns to be an operator they had converted to bus, so he went to the CB&Q depot near his home and eventually landed a succession of jobs from janitor to station agent.  He attended Otterbein College obtaining a BA in 1952.  In 1954 he was drafted into the Army for two years and then went onto the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce receiving a master’s degree in 1958 having written a history of the Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company as his thesis.  Wendell then went to work for the CA&E in 1958 as their Director of Research & Development, developing a timetable for the resumption of passenger service which as we know never happened.  He worked for several transportation companies and accepted a job with the Chicago and North Western Railway in their finance department.  During this time, he became involved in the Fox River & Eastern Electric Railway (FREE), an effort to take over the freight operation of the CA&E from Elgin to Wayne as well as Railway Equipment Leasing & investment Company (RELIC) which was obtaining CA&E and North Shore cars for use in a museum setting.  The freight short line never came to be, but RELIC was able to obtain property along Bob DeYoung’s Aurora Elgin & Fox River line along with operating rights.  Wendell also invested in two open type streetcars imported from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil which arrived on the RELIC property.  Four-wheel car 441 was restored to operating condition and repainted in red and white colors to reflect Fox River Line open air cars.  In 1968 he left the area to become the president of the Iowa Terminal Railway which had two electric divisions, the former Mason City & Clear Lake and the Charles City Western which were owned by the Boyer family of Detroit.  He still had a dream of owing his own short line railway and to that end obtained the Mason City & Clear Lake corporate shell and finally landed on a Reading Company branch line which he renamed the Middletown & Hummelstown Railroad (which had been its original name before being folded into the Reading) and along with Samuel Holmes began operating the line as a short line freight operation in April 1976.  By 1986 he had enough infrastructure in place to allow him to start tourist passenger operations over the short line with diesel hauled former Delaware Lackawanna & Western commuter coaches.  During this period of time, he ended his agreement with RELIC and moved his Rio open cars to his shop facilities in Middletown and eventually operated 441 on occasion with a used generator car in tow to provide power.  Wendell passed away Sunday December 10th, 2023, at age 93 after running his own short line railroad for forty-seven years.  While he was never involved with the not-for-profit Fox River Trolley Museum, his efforts and investment were a very important part of establishing our predecessor RELIC, and for this we are grateful and mourn with the current M&H employees and volunteers in their loss.  May he rest in peace.

  • November 14, 2023 1:06 PM | Jacob Goldberg (Administrator)

    While our regular operating season is over, things are far from quiet at the museum! The past two weeks, we have been hard at work getting everything ready for our iconic Polar Express event, starting in just two weeks.

    Jeff and Mike set up icicle lights at Blackhawk

    James sets up Santa's Village at the North Pole

    We got all the pieces for Santa's Village in place and decorated cars 40/43

    Jacob acts as conductor/brakeman on the caboose with James as locomotive engineer while we are shoving it onto track 2 for some equipment moves

  • October 25, 2023 10:34 AM | Jacob Goldberg (Administrator)

    Yesterday, we added the newest car to our collection: Soo Line Caboose 117. This car is not only the most recently acquired item in our collection, but by far the newest item in our collection.

    The caboose was built in 1973 by the International Car Company, part of a set of 90 cabooses. At the time it entered service, it was painted red and white. The caboose was used at the rear end of freight trains all over the Soo Line until the late 1980s when it was made obsolete by the end of train device. While many cabooses after that point either were scrapped or donated, caboose 117 continued to see use on the Soo Line (later Canadian Pacific, and now CPKC), mainly as a shoving platform to allow conductors a more comfortable place to stand while moving a train in reverse and for moving crews and equipment in maintenance-of-way trains. In 2021, the caboose was repainted to the current green color it has now, instead of the red and white it originally had.

    In May of 2023, the caboose was retired and acquired as scrap by Marty Maggio of the Maggio Truck Center in Rockford. However, upon seeing that the caboose was in good shape, Maggio generously spared the caboose from the cutting torch and coordinated with Eric Zabelny to find it a more fitting home. Yesterday, its journey came to an end, arriving at our museum.

  • October 05, 2023 4:05 PM | Jacob Goldberg (Administrator)

    To bring in the fall this year, we had our first ever Oktoberfest! While offering trolley rides all day, we partnered with the local Rotary club, Pau Hauna Lounge, Ream's Meat Market, and many other local businesses and organizations to make this happen. The weather was absolutely unbeatable, warm and sunny for all three days, and we had a good crowd to enjoy some food, beer, music, train rides, and more.

    Thank you everyone who came out and everyone who partnered with us for a great event.

    On the railroad side of things, we had cars 4451 and 715 running all day. Lots of happy passengers. This was the first time we have carried passengers in 4451 since the springtime.

    We also had several bands playing throughout the event:

    Of course this post wouldn't be complete without a picture of the Stein holding competition, where competitors had to hold a Stein full of beer at arm's length for as long as possible.

    It also certainly wouldn't be Oktoberfest without beer. The bar was definitely a popular part of the event.

  • September 25, 2023 1:30 PM | Jacob Goldberg (Administrator)

    Last Saturday, we partnered up with Operation Lifesaver for National Rail Safety Week, an organization promoting railroad safety. We take safety extremely seriously on our railroad, it was fitting we partnered with them to teach rail safety to the public on our own railroad. We had a massive turnout and a lot of very happy faces, and our visitors left knowing how to stay safe around trains.

    Did you know that at every railroad crossing, there is a blue sign with a phone number and a crossing identifier? If your car is stuck on the crossing, you can call that number and give them the crossing identifier and they will stop any trains in the vicinity to save your car.

    Two Operation Lifesaver volunteers show the sign that tells you how to stop a freight train if your car gets stuck on a crossing

    We had CA&E Car 458 ready to carry passengers.

    Operation Lifesaver had a representative on every train to give a presentation on how to stay safe around train tracks

    We had so many visitors that we brought out North Shore Line 715 to carry additional passengers

  • September 14, 2023 10:12 AM | Jacob Goldberg (Administrator)

    While we have a lot of experienced volunteers trained on our various electric cars, we only have a few people with experience on our diesel locomotives, especially Locomotive 5. This past weekend we started changing that by training a bunch of our operators on Locomotive 5 with the Caboose Train. On Sunday, operators Ben Rohling and Jacob Goldberg (who is also the dutiful webmaster) were trained in Locomotive 5 by Jeff Bennett. In addition, Jeff gave Jacob a practice run in Locomotive 5 the previous week after hours to get a feel for the controls and how it handled.

    For the first run of the day, we ran the freight train without passengers to make sure Ben and Jacob had a good handle on the controls and how a freight train operates. The run went without issue, so we ran the subsequent runs with passengers. Over the next few weeks we will train several other operators on Locomotive 5 so we can have a large pool of volunteers available to operate it in the future. We are continuing to expand the capabilities of our volunteer force, and are always looking for new volunteers.

    The Caboose Train will be running the next two Sundays, September 17 and 24. No advance reservations are required and it is included in a regular admission. Stop on by to experience life on a freight train!

    Jeff takes a selfie while Jacob is at the controls and Ben watches

    Jacob operates the locomotive near Woodcliff

    Close-up of Jacob operating the locomotive

    Jacob operates the locomotive with Ben watching

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Ever since CTA began to assemble its 21st Century Heritage Fleet, rail enthusiasts have expressed hope that 'L' cars of decades past could be returned from museums or private owners to enlarge the fleet.

Thanks to CTA and the Fox River Trolley Museum, those hopes have come true.

The museum has re-sold cars 6101-02 to CTA for Heritage Fleet operation. The Fox River board approved the sale at its July 8 meeting. CTA signed off on the terms in late July and moved the cars from South Elgin to CTA Skokie Shops Aug. 9-10.

"We've done our part for historic preservation, which is our mission," said museum President Edward Konecki. "Now it's time for them to go home."

The married pair, built by the now-defunct St. Louis Car Co. in 1950, features a set of outside conductor's controls and twin headlights, which makes them unique among surviving 6000-series cars.

Fox River has long-term preservation in mind. CTA once had a Heritage Fleet of streetcars and rapid transit equipment that was disbanded in the 1980s.  Today's Heritage Fleet is its second.  The re-sale contract includes a clause that gives the museum a 90-day right of first refusal to regain possession of the cars, should CTA decide to terminate its current Heritage Fleet program. If returned, they must be in fully operable condition. The cars were never used in public operations at Fox River because of restrictions written into the contact between the museum and CTA in the 1990s. Essentially, Fox River could not carry paying passengers on the cars. That clause will not be included should the cars revert to Fox River.

CTA hopes to unveil the cars to the public in time for its 70th birthday party in October.

CTA, created in 1945 by the Metropolitan Transit Authority Act to take control of the city's mass transportation providers, bought the 'L' from the receivers of the bankrupt Chicago Rapid Transit Co. Oct. 1, 1947.  Today it is one of the three operating agencies that compose the Regional Transportation Authority.  

The Fox River Trolley Museum is a not-for-profit, founded in 1961, dedicated to the preservation Chicago's electric railway heritage and interpretation of the lines' colorful history. All workers at the museum are volunteers.  The museum operates its demonstration railway, a remnant of the old Aurora Elgin & Fox River Electric Co. interurban (inter-city) rail line, on Sundays from Mother's Day through the end of October, Saturdays in July and August and on three major in-season holidays -- Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day..

Contact Us

General Information (847) 697-4676

Event and Ticket questions (847) 380-6121


365 S La Fox St, South Elgin, IL 60177           

P.O. Box 315

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The Fox River Trolley Museum is an IRS 501(c)(3) Illinois Not for Profit Corporation.
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