Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The Fox River Trolley Museum

On July 4, the Fox River Trolley Museum was running two single-car trains. We rode on this one -- Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee No. 715 -- shown here on the weedy tracks at Castlemuir Station waiting to make its run to Blackhawk Station, about two miles away.

According to the museum, the Cincinnati Car Co. built No. 715 in 1926 and it was in service on the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee line until 1963. The car's a little worn, but otherwise in remarkably good shape. A labor of love by the museum's volunteers, I figure.

The museum's caboose, one-time property of the Illinois Central, is also in fairly good shape, though there's no indication that it's still rolling stock. The inside is open for inspection. Not luxurious, but everything an early 20th-century trainman needed: bunks, a desk and chair, small stove, WC, water tank.

The museum has maybe 10 other cars, including old CTA cars -- one not so old that I didn't ride in ones like it in the late '80s -- other passenger cars, box cars, and some very beaten-up refrigerator cars. The grounds, a slice of land between the road and a small park, also sported a couple of enormous sheltering oaks over the tracks. Grand old trees. They were probably here when the tracks carried interurban cars for real.

I sat at the base of one of them while waiting for No. 715 to be ready for our ride because it seemed like a summertime thing to do.

When the time came to ride old No. 715, this fellow took our tickets.

He wasn't the conductor, not at least for our run. That job was handled expertly by a somewhat younger volunteer likewise dressed as a trainman of yore. No doubt driving trains has been a dream of his since he was a small boy.

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