Location: Galesburg, Illinois
General Description: From its beginnings in 1854 Galesburg was the central hub of all trains heading west. With multiple daily runs to and from Chicago and other points east, as well as, shipments both north and south, they all came through Galesburg to be configured for trains heading into the western territories. The resulting rail yard in Galesburg is truly massive and can only be appreciated from the air. The rail yard began with the merger of Aurora Branch, Central Military Tract, Peoria & Oquawka, and the Northern cross railroads into the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy in 1854 with Galesburg the hub with railroads in all four directions. With the merger of the CB&Q along with the Great Northern, the Northern Pacific and the Spokane, Portland, and Seattle and Railroad Companies into the Burlington Northern Railroad Company in 1970 it became the largest railroad in terms of miles of track and coverage. The Galesburg Railroad Museum was dedicated in 1982 to house the collection of railroad memorabilia growing out of the annual Galesburg Railroad Days that began in 1974. The museum started with a restored Pullman parlor car donated by BN in 1981 and the locomotive engine 3006 that had been donated to the city in 1960. In 1984, BN donated a 1930 caboose or waycar, CB&Q 13501 which was one of the first all steel waycars in the system. In 1988 the museum purchased CB&Q 3006, a combination Railway Post Office and Express Baggage Car. Finally, in 2004 the museum constructed a new museum to house the treasure trove of memorabilia which was dedicated in time for the 150th anniversary of the first train into Galesburg on December 7, 1854.
1) At first glance the museum appears to be a small museum that would only take a few minutes to explore. However, it is jammed packed with railroad memorabilia and artifacts that took well over an hour to even begin to explore. It is truly an impressive collection and deserves at least twice the space to truly display the history of the railroad in Galesburg.
2) Be sure to take advantage of the guided tour of the four cars they have outside the museum. Our guide was very knowledgeable and provided a lot more details then you would get on a self guided tour. He described the operation of the mail car, the steam locomotive, the parlor car, and the caboose in wonderful detail. We greatly enjoyed the more than 2 hours we spent at the museum.