For Train Lovers
Chicago and trains go together like, well, kids and trains. From little red
streetcars to thundering steam trains, two area museums are the places
to ride the rails—and maybe even learn a bit about history.
At the Fox River Trolley Museum (www.foxtrolley.org; & 847/697-4676 )
in west suburban South Elgin, hop a trolley and ride a real electric railway
that first opened on July 4, 1896. The 3-mile ride takes you along the banks
of the scenic Fox River. The Aurora, Elgin, and Fox River Electric Co. Interur-
ban Line once connected communities along the Fox River, including
Carpentersville, Elgin, Aurora, and Yorkville. The railway was abandoned
to passenger traffic in 1935, and in 1972 the museum purchased part of
the line. At the museum you can check out antique trolleys from 1891 to
1952. The museum's most popular annual event is the Pumpkin Trolley, run
on two weekends in October. Ride the trolley to the museum's pumpkin
patch, pick your own, and head back to the museum for a picnic lunch and
a visit to the museum store.
The museum is located at 361 S. LaFox St. (Illinois Rte. 31) in South
Elgin, about 40 miles west of Chicago. Fares are $3.50 for adults, $2 for
seniors, and $2 for children 2 to 11. The museum is open Mother's Day
through November 4 on Sunday from 11am to 5pm, and June 30 to Sep-
tember 1 on Saturday from 11am to 5pm. To get there, take I-90 or U.S.
Route 20 west to Elgin, and exit on Illinois Route 31 southbound. To
make it an all-train day, take the Metra commuter train to Elgin on the
Milwaukee District West Line. Then take Pace bus no. 801 to State
Street, South Elgin, and walk 3 blocks south to the museum (or take a
taxi from the Elgin train station).
America's largest railway museum is the Illinois Railway Museum
(www.irm.org) located in Union, about 60 miles northwest of Chicago.
of whom still live in the surrounding Andersonville neighborhood. The Children's
Museum of Immigration is located on the third floor, where Swedish craft
demonstrations and classes, as well as language classes, are offered. Geared toward
kindergarteners through sixth graders, the museum lets kids experience the jour-
ney from the Old World. They can step inside an authentic Swedish farmhouse,
board a steamship for America, and begin a new life in a log cabin. A modern-day
refugee's raft connects children to today's immigration story.
The permanent exhibits on display draw on a small collection of art and artifacts
dating to the mass immigration of Swedes to Chicago 2 centuries ago. Temporary
exhibitions (usually Swedish folk art) are mounted four times a year. There's also a
nice gift shop that offers Orrefors glassware; books on Swedish folk art, decorating,
and cooking; children's toys; and holiday knickknacks. Strolling down this stretch
of Clark Street, where Swedish bakeries and gourmet-food stores are interspersed
with an attractive mix of restaurants, bars, cafes, and theater companies, is the best
reason for stopping in here.
5211 N. Clark St. (near Foster Ave.). & 773/728-8111. firstname.lastname@example.org. Suggested donation $4
adults, $2 seniors and students, $1 children. Tues-Fri 10am-4pm; Sat-Sun 11am-4pm. Subway/El: Red Line
to Bryn Mawr, then walk several blocks west to Clark. Bus: 22.