Education Through Demonstration

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  • January 21, 2022 6:54 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Floor in, bolted in, and raw edges sealed up, the three that spend most of the day on this felt a celebratory selfie was in order.

    And here's where the dirty work was. Respirator required! John, Thee and Kyle worked both days or the weekend, all day long with orbital sanders, working on knocking down the existing paint, rust, corrosion, etc, for the application of first coat of primer.

    I promise John and Kyle are down there at the other end, sanding away, just too much dust to see!

    Fred Biederman was again methodically working this way down the walls of the car, drilling and tapping holes from screws that broke upon removal.

    Jeff and Manny also removed both brake stand valves, as well as the two removable ones from the triple valve, to be sent out for professional overhaul. Didn't get any pics of this.

  • January 15, 2022 6:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The most exciting thing to be seen in the car barn in a long time, TWO heater ducts. Why is this exciting you say? 

    Well this weekend with temps as low as 10, we had 11 volunteers onsite working over the course of the weekend! This is an amazing and exciting milestone for us. 11 dedicated people that braved the cold to come out and work on three different cars this weekend. Massive progress was made on all three, so here we go...

    Mike G. handing out seat cushions from CA&E 20

    Fred Lonnes and Jeff Bennett very proud of themselves for devising the 2x4 technique to remove the seat backs

    Jeff being called away to another project, Mike stepped right in and continued

    red Lonnes surveys the car, as he has just heaved out the last cushions to Thee, Jeff and Mike, who were hauling them to the transport vehicle. Fred has many memories of different tasks on this car, as he first started coming to the museum in 1963!

    So now the real fun. The seat mechanisms required massive cleaning, and you can see here our newest volunteer Manny Dunn has quite the set up going to get the decades of gunk out.

    Seeing a dirty job, Jeff couldn't wait to jump in and helped with the cleaning. There will be many repairs required so that all the seats flip back and forth correctly. These will be done by our metal magician Kyle, while the cushions are out being overhauled and recovered.

    nd as always... Mike is cleaning up after the mess that Jeff made... What in the world would we do with him?

    Thee is staging the cars worth of cushions so we could get them all in one load in the "Trolley Ambulance"

    Having biscuit joined and cut this massive piece of oak for the floor repair at his shop, Andre is now seen here doing some final adjustments before dropping it in place

    Jeff is holding the piece so Andre can make an area that needs a bit more belt sanding.

    Andre continues to make the fit perfect.... Jeff continues to get cold... lol

    Success, it's in. Now James Tarbet is handling the chisel work. The heads of all these bolts are square, and must be recessed below the surface of the floor. This was accomplished the good ol fashioned way, chisel and hammer.

  • January 12, 2022 11:37 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Some additional update pictures of the interior restoration of car 458

    Cushions removed and car being cleaned out to remove the seat frames.

    Fred working on removing a seat frame.

    Main compartment empty of seat frames as work starts to remove the seat frames from the smoking compartment.

  • January 11, 2022 11:15 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Just when you thought 316 was back burner-ed.... NO WAY

    You can see Jeff Bennett and our newest volunteer Andre Jurek removing the rotted sections, preparing the area by removing rotted hardware, and prepping metal.

    Supporting roof while removing all lower rot.

  • January 11, 2022 11:07 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    4288 has been put on hold for the winter, and these pictures show the progress that was made. The hold is so we can all move to the interior of 458 and knock it out in one winter. 

    We were able to finish all the metal floor repairs, as well as all, walls- sides, front, and back metal. Including all the bolster and structural frame repairs. 

    The entire spring, summer, fall, and beginning of winter encompassed this car in 2021, and as of last weekend I can safely say the car is again completely structurally sound and whole!

  • January 11, 2022 10:35 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    458 is back in the barn as of November 2021, with the goal of having the interior restored over the winter

    Now that most of the stored items in the car have been re-homed, we are working on removing the swivel, walk around seat bases and frames. Fred Biederman is working at one here.

    Looking down the car, it can be seen that Jeff Bennett and Fred Biederman have been able to remove all the seat frames and bases from the main section and are now working on the smoking sec.

    Now with the seat bases and frames out we are on to removing the luggage racks

    Mr. Biederman doing an end of day clean up, as it can be seen all the luggage racks have been removed.

    The luggage racks did not come off without a fight. Many screws broke off during removal. Here Fred is methodically going down the line, drilling and tapping the holes as needed

    James Tarbet is doing the first run by or knocking off some rust along the lower car card area, ahead of Fred's re-tapping work.

    Here we see Chief Car Officer Jeff Bennett removing the light fixtures from the ceiling, so a great paint job can be attained.

    And it's a good thing he did. The channels that house the wiring for the lights are all rusted inside. If this is not treated now, it will push through the new paint.. Never know what we will find!

    Just to prove everyone is having a wonderful time, here are some HAPPY Car Department folks

    Fred is always smiling. I don't think he's had a bad day in his life!

    I promise, James Tarbet was smiling... just missed it.

  • January 09, 2022 11:15 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Ken posing in front of AE&FRE 304 on its first run, November 27, 2009

    On December 24th, 2021 the museum lost a member when Kenneth M. Ward passed away in his sleep at his home on Woodcliff Drive in South Elgin.  Ken was the son of Clarence and Margaret Ward, born on December 3rd, 1936.  As his father was a police officer employed by the Elgin State Mental Hospital, he and his family resided on or near the hospital grounds where he was introduced to the Aurora Elgin & Fox River Electric Company railroad while it was still being operated electrically and as a child observed the conversion to diesel operation in 1946 with locomotive #5 and the later purchase of the railroad by former milkman Robert DeYoung.  By 1952 Bob had trained the 15-year-old Ken to not only run locomotive #5 but also operate the railroad and trusted him enough to make trips by himself to and from Coleman to interchange the empty and loaded hopper cars, when Bob had to take time off.  When the Village Board got wind of this “boy” running trains through downtown South Elgin, Bob was summoned before them where he exclaimed that Ken “operated the railroad safer than he did.”  According to Ken, after that appearance before the board, nothing more was said.  Careful, safe operation was key as the first major move on a southbound trip to Coleman was pushing a cut of empty hoppers out into the middle of State Street (Highway 31) as the interurban track was still in the center of the roadway.  Next, one had to throw the streetcar switch so the train could continue south without the engineer getting hit by passing motorists.

         His experience of operating on the AE&FR led the teenager to another more complicated job as an engineer running steam locomotives at the Chicago Gravel Company pit.  One of the engines he ran, No.18 is on display in Veterans Park in Bensenville.

         Ken enlisted in the United States Marines and after returning from active duty, he served as a South Elgin Police officer.  He became a licensed plumber, worked for a plumbing equipment company and advanced to office manager of Baumgartner Plumbing in St. Charles before transitioning as a partner in the Holtz and Ward Construction Company and finally retired from Harper College’s Physical Plant Department in 2012 after 20 years of service.

         He also participated in sports, playing on and managing several 12” softball teams including founding the St. Charles Merchants 12” Softball Team which won several Illinois State Tournaments.  Ken was also an Elgin Peewee Football League coach for twenty-plus years.  Ken participated in his parish’s “Light of the World” retreat program and “That Man is You” men’s support activities.

         Back on the railroad front, he was an active member of the North American Railcar Operators Association (NARCOA) along with museum member Fred Lonnes and former South Elgin resident Mike Mitzel.  He rescued the Illinois Central’s Coleman motorcar and then completely restored it.  At the museum he and his business partner Cecil Holtz completed the back interior of the car barn and rebuilt the roof of Soo Line caboose 130 during a slow period for their construction company.  He was also part of the effort to repatriate #5 to the museum from the gravel pit after it closed in 2001.

         Ever since this author’s association with the museum back in the mid 1970’s, we have always called our steel deck bridge, “Wards Bridge” as it is close to his home on Woodcliff Drive.  This is a most fitting memorial to a man who was a link from our line’s historic past to the present educational museum operation.  Our condolences to Ken’s wife Carolyn, his children and their families.

    Link to Ken's obituary

     Joseph Hazinski

  • December 11, 2021 10:57 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Activities at the museum have centered around the POLAR EXPRESS trains and Doug Rundell has shared some photos from Saturday December 11th operations. 

    In an email to the Museum from Warrenville Park District, who charters two trains every year, the Park District complimented the Museum on this year's experience as being the best ever.   Thanks to all of the volunteers, staff, and people behind the scenes for their efforts.

    Here is the service crew for one car posing with the Conductor actor before the first trip.

    Once underway the serving of hot chocolate and cookies begins.

    Upon arrival at the North Pole (Castlemuir) Elf Rebecca assists Santa as he visits one car at a time.

    Then jolly Mr. Claus himself addresses each and every child in the car.

    Singer Ian drums up enthusiasm among the riders.

    Guitarist Jonathan strums down the aisle as the crowd uses their own copies of the words to join in.

  • November 05, 2021 9:08 PM | Anonymous member

    One of our new operators this season is Tom Albright standing next to newly restored 4451 at Blackhawk Station in the Jon Duerr Forest Preserve.   Joseph Hazinski photo

    A very red IC caboose 9648 was finally pulled out of Track 4 in the car barn on August 21, 2021.  Mike Gilles photo

    The next day I caught a view of 9648’s east side prior to final exterior improvements such as lettering and one missing cupola window.  You can also see the window added on the north east side of the unit.   Joseph Hazinski photo

    September 12th finds the exterior letter applied to the caboose with efforts going on to get the way car ready for passenger service.  The restored side window is clearly evident on the west side.   Joseph Hazinski photo

    Jeff Bennett is applying paint to the interior wooden framing of this new window which took some extra effort to install as the interior wall paneling had to be cut open instead of just being un-plated.   Joseph Hazinski photo

    On the same day, Jeff, Fred Lonnes and Mike Gilles are installing the new ladder guard on the south or B End of the caboose.  This new design is less obtrusive and can easily be unlocked when access is needed to the roof.  This allows the car to be used as a work platform for overhead work when the need arises.  Of course, the wire cannot be energized because of the metal roof which is why we have these safety guards in place.   Joseph Hazinski photo

    September 19th found 9648 in service with CTA L-202 pushing on the north end instead of its usual place on the south end.  Joseph Hazinski photo

    Here a mother and son take advantage of the unique side window to enjoy the view of the Fox River during the “Caboose Day” operations on September 19th.  Joseph Hazinski photo

    On Members Day, October 2nd, Katie Moulton and her mother put out specially decorated cookies for the annual event.   Joseph Hazinski photo

    Here Katie poses with a 4451 cookie in front of the car.  She also had a cookie depicting 715 and a third one that commemorated the day.  She likes to bake and during the pandemic started a custom cookie business, making cookies decorated for special events.   Joseph Hazinski photo

    This is one of the three replica end signs for 4451 introduced to the membership.  The other side of this sign reads HOWARD which celebrates the Evanston shuttle service the 4000’s covered prior to the arrival of the 1-50 series cars in 1959.   Joseph Hazinski photo

    On Members Day, October 2nd, 2021, Klaudiusz Kruszecki and his son enjoy a ride in 9648’s cupola. Joseph Hazinski photo

    And this is the view from the cupola as we pull into Blackhawk with CA&E 20 and AE&FR 304 ahead of us during Members Day operations.  This time AE&FR 5 is doing the pulling.  Joseph Hazinski photo

    A view of Castlemuir from 9648’s cupola as Members Day activities winds down.  Joseph Hazinski photo

    The clincher of Members Day operations was a passing thunderstorm, who’s lightning dictated that the 600-volt power be shut down.  With the bulk of the operating cars at Blackhawk, locomotive #5, which had been towing the caboose, came to the rescue by towing L-202 and 715 back to South Elgin while pushing 9648.  Traction power was restored after the storm passed so everything could be sorted out at Castlemuir.   Joseph Hazinski photo

    Back on September 11th, as soon as 9648 came out of the barn CA&E 458 went inside on Track 4, berthed next 20, one of the first CA&E cars.   The well-worn temporary tarp was removed and discarded in the dumpster.  Joseph Hazinski photo

    With car 20 making some regular demonstration runs we are able to get a view of 458, one of the last CA&E cars constructed.  Joseph Hazinski photo

    With the impending Ghost Story Train weekends, the Kruszecki family did their annual decorations of the interiors of CTA cars 40 and 43 on September 25th.  Photographer unknown

    I was intrigued by this spider themed display in Car 43.  Each car had its own unique decorations to help get riders in the mood for our special event trips to hear the spooky tails told at the Jon Duerr Forest Preserve.  Thanks to the Kruszecki family for their efforts.   Joseph Hazinski photo

    It’s Saturday October 16th and the first Ghost Story Train unloads at Blackhawk Station in the Jon Duerr Forest Preserve under the watchful eyes of a skeleton.   George Barreto photo

    Our story teller spins her scary yarns to a spellbound audience.   George Barreto photo

    And of course after the spooky tails it is time to make Smore’s over the fire.  Additional photos taken at Blackhawk can be seen on the museum’s Facebook page.   George Barreto photo

    On October 23rd, Fred Biederman along with Jeff started the process of removal of the seat frames from 458.  Along with removing the seats, the baggage racks are also coming down so that efforts can be started to prepare, prime and repaint the interior of the car.  After that the next step will be to replace the linoleum flooring.  Fortunately, the wood underneath appears to be in solid shape unlike the CTA 4000 cars.   Jeff Bennett photo

    458’s interior as of October 31st, with only three seat frames left that need to be detached, once the temporary work table can be put on saw horses.  Canvas is on hand to cover both 458 and CTA 4288’s roofs.  The encouraging thing about 458 is that all the necessary seat backs and seat cushions have been recovered and are in storage.  With enough volunteer help to install the canvas and roof appliances, renew the interior and repaint the exterior, the museum can add another operating car to the fleet.  The car can be heated during the winter season for inside work.  Contact Jeff Bennett, Chief Car Officer, to find out when and how you can help.   Joseph Hazinski photo   

  • August 20, 2021 9:13 PM | Anonymous member

    For the last three months most of the heavy work in the car barn has centered around the IC caboose but now that the metal work, welding repairs and fabrication is essentially complete our forces have turned back to CTA rapid transit car 4288.

    On May 9th, 2021, when CTA 4451 returned to service there was a void in the car barn which was soon filled with Illinois Central caboose 9648.    Joseph Hazinski photo

    4288 sits a little forlorn in the barn with some of its parts stored on the shelving next to it.   Joseph Hazinski photo

    While most of the efforts were focused on its sister 4451 some work was always being done in 4288 as here, we see seat frames being detached and heaters being disconnected.   Joseph Hazinski photo

    But on Saturday August 14th work restarted in earnest as our crew shifted from the IC caboose to 4288.    Joseph Hazinski photo

    We find John VanPaseuth and Bill Wright busy removing insulation from interior walls below the window sills.   Jeff Bennett photo

    This removal will aid in replacing the side sheets and expose the carlines for inspection.  Eventually the insulation will be replaced with modern material as the goal is to make the car usable in all seasons.   Jeff Bennett photo

    Thee has been removing the last of the heaters under the longitudinal seat and marking the connections for the units as well as connections for the door engine.   Jeff Bennett photo

    By the time I got on the scene the debris was starting to pile up from the insulation removal process.   Joseph Hazinski photo

    Bill had mastered the art of insulation removal as he and John are on their last sections.   Joseph Hazinski photo

    The last batten of 1922 horse hair insulation just before its removal.   Joseph Hazinski photo

    One of the door engines awaiting removal for overhaul and to allow for floor removal and replacement.   Joseph Hazinski photo

    On the work bench we find one of the door engines from 4288.  The part in the red box is the cylinder and piston assembly which actually opens one of the car’s side doors.  Jeff took it apart, cleaned it up and reassembled it with the goal of swapping it out for one that is leaking air on 4451 so he can service the leaking unit.  The Skokie shop tag states this door engine was last overhauled in May of 1957.   Joseph Hazinski photo

    Meanwhile in the back of the barn Mike Gilles is taking apart the heater elements which will be replaced with modern units just as was done on 4451.   Joseph Hazinski photo 

     While clearing out all the seats in 4288 all the heat shields on the bottom of the cushions were salvaged and here Jeff is applying heat resistant paint to the primed panels.  When dry they will go into storage until it is time to install them on the reupholstered cushions.   Joseph Hazinski photo

    Assorted vestibule ceiling panels are hanging from the car awaiting either cleanup or use as patterns for replacements as necessary.   Joseph Hazinski photo

    Another productive day winds down as we view the #2 end of 4288 which will one day couple with 4451 to make a two-car train.   Joseph Hazinski photo



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 (312) 473-0993

365 S La Fox St, South Elgin, IL 60177           

P.O. Box 315

The Fox River Trolley Museum is an IRS 501(c)(3) Illinois Not for Profit Corporation.
Donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. 

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