Monticello Railway Museum

The Monticello Railway Museum is a not-for-profit, all-volunteer organization founded in 1966 with a goal to maintain and operate steam powered passenger train trips. SPUR (Society for the Perpetuation of Unretired Railfans) as the organization was originally called, purchased five miles of former Illinois Terminal track between Monticello and White Heath (this span of track is now known as Terminal Division) and a former popcorn field to be used as yard area. The first engine to arrive was #1, a 0-4-0 steam engine from 1930.

In 1969 the name was changed to Monticello & Sangamon Valley Railroad Historical Society, Inc., and in 1982 the name changed again to the current Monticello Railway Museum. An additional 7.5 miles of track were added in 1987, known as the Central Division, and this is where rides take place today.

The Monticello Railway Museum allows guests to wander around an operational railroad yard, view exhibits of materials and artifacts related to the history of trains and railroads, and ride on a historical train. The museum and train rides are in regular operation on weekends from early May until mid October. A train travels from the museum site to downtown Monticello during the morning and early afternoon and passengers may board and dismount at either location. The cost for one round trip ticket is $10 if a regular engine is pulling the cars or $14 if the 1907 steam engine is in operation.

The 1907 Southern 2-8-0 steam locomotive, #401, is used about one weekend every month to pull the passenger cars on route. This particular engine was one of the first purchased by SPUR and was on display at the museum from 1971 until 1995, when a donor stepped forward with a proposal to return an operating steam locomotive to Monticello Railway Museum. It took 15 years to restore this very special locomotive to operational status. To see when the #401 is running check the schedule on the website.

In addition to the regular hours, the museum also offers special events including school trips, a mother’s and father’s day weekend special, fireworks for the 4th of July, Railroad Days in September, A ghost train in October, and a Polar Express one-hour train ride in December where the guests are entertained by a reading of the Polar Express and a special visit by Santa! Check the events schedule on the Monticello Railway Museum website for more information.

Images

Monticello Railway Museum

Monticello Railway Museum

The Wabash Railroad F7A #1189, the museum's most notable engine, pulls a passenger car into the station. Image copyright Daniel Schwen, used under the GNU Free Documentation License. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Monticello_Railway_Museum_1.jpg View File Details Page

Completed Train Shed

Completed Train Shed

With the train shed complete, the engines are now protected from inclement weather. Image courtesy of the Monticello Railway Museum View File Details Page

Construction of train shed

Construction of train shed

The Monticello Railway Museum built a new train shed in 2008. Here, the bones of the shed are going up around a few of the trains. Image courtesy of the Monticello Railway Museum View File Details Page

Southern #401 as it arrived in 1968

Southern #401 as it arrived in 1968

Built in December 1907, this engine probably saw a lot of use before being purchased by the museum in 1968. It spent the next two decades on display only at the museum. Image courtesy of the Monticello Railway Museum View File Details Page

Deconstruction of #401

Deconstruction of #401

In order to restore #401 for use, the engine had to be almost completely dismantled. Also in this picture is a Tennessee Central engine. Image courtesy of the Monticello Railway Museum View File Details Page

Rivets get sanded

Rivets get sanded

Image courtesy of the Monticello Railway Museum View File Details Page

#401

#401

Part way through the refurbishment of the #401 steam engine. Image courtesy of the Monticello Railway Museum View File Details Page

#401

#401

More repairs for the steam engine. Image courtesy of the Monticello Railway Museum View File Details Page

Testing the Steam!

Testing the Steam!

Image courtesy of the Monticello Railway Museum View File Details Page

Completed #401

Completed #401

Returned to its splendor and ready for usage, the 401 2-0-8 engine pulls passenger cars about weekend every month when the museum is open. Image courtesy of the Monticello Railway Museum View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Kara Brehm, “Monticello Railway Museum,” ExploreCU, accessed May 23, 2017, http://explorecu.org/items/show/200.
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