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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Road Trip: Illinois Railway Museum, Indiana, & Wisconsin

Our next day on the road we had a real "railroad day"- beginning and ending the day with trains! We found- by simply following road signs heading north out of Chicago- THE BEST RAILROAD MUEUM EVER: the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, IL  As “railfans” with the Elkhorn Inn, an historic inn catering to railfans, we are always either chasing trains or on the lookout for things having to do with trains, so we were stunned to realize that we didn’t even know this great museum existed! The Illinois Railroad Museum is not only an educational and historic preservation organization, it has what is probably the largest operating demonstration railroad showcase on the North American continent! This museum is truly a Museum in Motion: little streetcars clang across Depot Street on the car line, a thundering steam train whistles past on the mainline, and gleaming streamliners whisper by! The main passenger boarding and alighting area is built around an 1851 depot (from Marengo, Illinois), the oldest continuously operating passenger station west of Pittsburgh. Another visitor boarding point is the 50th Avenue rapid transit station built in 1910 and removed from Cicero, Illinois. This is truly an “interactive” museum- their artifacts don't just sit there gathering dust, they move! We had a lot of fun walking though many of the barns to see their amazing collection of railroads and engines, and talking with the volunteers who restore the engines and keep them running, and getting to tour and sit in the driver’s seat of a snow plow train. We even took a ride on one of the main-line trains!

                                                    Chef Dan, back in the galley!
                                                    Getting a tour of the snowplow train
                                           Elisse in the driver's seat of the snowplow train!

We stopped at the Warm Glow Candle Company, basically so I could be photographed with The Biggest Candle In the World: 
But wound up not only having a really great lunch there, but buying some incredibly cool hand-made Halloween light bulbs, made locally in Indiana!
It's a huge, fun store with a gazillion things to look at, touch, and smell, and we loved that everything was made right there in Indiana by real people!

On our drive north through Illinois and Indiana to Wisconsin, where we spent the night, we drove through some very, very beautiful countryside: fields of corn and farms and cows, the light changing and lighting up the fields in different ways as the day lengthened... 
See? We really Did make it to Wisconsin! LOL  
We had dinner in the Wisconsin Dells after Eagle-Eye Dan spotted a sign for Buffalo Phil’s, a restaurant offering “your dinner delivered by train”! We thus got to end our day of trains bringing back my happy 1960s childhood memories of The Hamburger Train diner on Queens Blvd. in NY! J Our super-nice waiter took pix of me with the train delivering our beers and food, too- after our phone, Nexus, AND camera batteries all died simultaneously! So much for the wonders of modern technology!                             
                                         Buffalo Phil's train, delivering beer and burgers!

Thank you to our wonderful waiter for this photo of me with the Buffalo Phil Burger Train!
Next: heading north again!

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