Illinois Railway Museum's Diesel Day
July 20, 2013

by J. David Ingles

One weekend each summer, Illinois Railway Museum declares "diesel days," and in early afternoon stages a "parade" in which unit or units proceed east from a staging area, pause in front of the depot building while a P.A. announcer describes their type, age, duties, etc., to the crowd, and then proceed east, either into the yard or along the museum's 5-mile main line (built on the old right-of-way of the Elgin & Belvidere interurban), which parallels UP's ex-C&NW line from West Chicago to Rockford (originally to Freeport), Ill. 
Jeff Madden and I left Waukesha about 10 a.m. for the 90-minute drive to Union, and stopped in the Subway in Marengo to get a sandwich and put in our cooler, as the lines at IRM's diner can be horrendous when its crowded. We parked, entered the museum (Seniors, $12), and made some photos. I ate lunch at a picnic table by the trolley loop, then when they were getting organized for the parade, returned to the car and parked along the lot's exit road, west of Spalding Tower (home of IRM's dispatcher -- they use AAR Channel 11, 160.275), which was sited east of Elgin at the MILW-EJ&E crossing. Most of the photos were made in this region. The road crossing just to the west is Olson Road, and the road crossing 4 miles out is Seeman Road, at the east switch of Johnson Siding, the main line's only passing siding. The highlight for me was to see Green Bay & Western 2407, an ex-Santa Fe Alco "Alligator" RSD15, in use by IRM for the first time (for me, maybe not them). This unit is still in Lake Superior & Ishpeming maroon, with "GBW" initials. It went from ATSF to LS&I to Fox River Valley to GB&W (WC ownership), then was donated to IRM by Wisconsin Central, I believe. I'm not sure it ever operated with "GBW" initials, though it did see some use with "FRV" lettering. The 2nd unit is IRM's recently repainted (from BN green) CB&Q SD24 504
The parade began at 1:30 and concluded at 2:19 p.m. The GB&W/CB&Q-powered 20-car freight had wound up being parked east of Johnson siding, so before we left for home we went out to Seaman Road and were treated to a meet with the Nebraska Zephyr, then made a couple of farewell photos back at the museum before heading out. We were home before 5 p.m. Hope you enjoy the photos -- I shot 100 digitals and almost 2 rolls of slides. -- Dave Ingles

Diesel Days parade, in order; all moves were eastbound.

1.  United States Army 8537 (45-Ton, live), Joy Manufacturing (Mich. City, Ind.)  critter No. 2 (dead), 1:30 pm, from yard and Spalding

2.  Commonwealth Edison 15 (SW1, live), Nekoosa Paper 14 (S3, dead – trucks are S3, not S1), from yard and Spalding

3.  Burlington Northern 9908 (E9Am), from staging, siding

4.  Burlington Northern 1 (F9A), 2 (F9B), from staging, siding

5.  SP 1518 (SD7) and 4-caboose train (MILW 01984, CGW 601, CB&Q 13572, UP 3786) from staging w. of Olson Rd.

6.  Milwaukee Road 760 (H10-44) from staging w. of Olson Rd.

7.  Chicago Burlington & Quincy 9255 (SW7), from staging w. of Olson Rd.

8.  Green Bay & Western 2407 (RSD15), CB&Q 504 (SD24), both live, 20-car freight train incl. RI transfer caboose 19135, 1:56 pm, from staging w. of Olson Rd.

9.  Minnesota Transfer 200 (RS3), from staging, siding

10.    Chicago & North Western 411 (F7A) with 4-coach train (C&NW combine, 3 DL&W coaches), from staging, main line

11.    Illinois Terminal 1605 (GP7), from staging w. of Olson Rd.

12.    Milwaukee Road 37A (E9, live), Milwaukee Road118C (F7A, dead), from staging, siding

13.    Chicago Burlington & Quincy 9911A (E5A) Nebraska Zephyr, from staging w. of Olson Rd.

14.    Wisconsin Central 7525 (SD45), 2:11 pm, from staging w. of Olson Rd.

15.    Chicago & North Western 4160 (GP7R), with UP Burro crane, from staging w. of Olson Rd.

16.    Chicago & North Western 6847 (SD40-2, live), Burlington Northern 5383 (U30C, dead), 2:19 p.m., from staging w. of Olson Rd.

Johnson siding meet of Nebraska Zephyr with waiting SP SD7-led freight, 12:30 pm

This SP SD7 was a demonstrator, IIRC.

Nebraska Zephyr, after unloading, backs past Spalding Tower (ex-MILW) to stage for parade

From my picnic table lunch spot, MILW 760, FM's first diesel, seesaws out to the main line to back up for staging.

Volunteer engineer in "Com Ed" SW1 15 backs up it, and the not-running Nekoosa Paper Alco S3 14 (IRM mistakenly calls this an S1, but the trucks say it's an S3), to seesaw out to the main line to back west of Spalding for staging. I then left my lunch table.

MILW E9 37A, badly in need of paint, backs itself and the non-running F7 118C up on the siding to stage next to C&NW F7 411 and the "heavyweight" passenger train, a C&NW combine and 3 DL&W coaches. The MILW E-F combo parked in front of my vantage point (where I enjoyed the a/c in my van; it was 85 degrees) for most of the parade.

Minnesota Transfer RS3 200 gives some classic Alco smoke as it backs up to stage ahead of the MILW cab units.

A study in F's: C&NW F7 411 and BN "executive" F9 BN-1. IRM also has the BN executive E9 BN-3 but it did not participate this year.

BN E9 9908, whose solid white front end needs some paint work, stages next to the C&NW F7 and passenger train.

Portrait of the BN F9 A-B executive duo, BN-1 and BN-2

Portrait of the BN E9 9908

The two "critters," engineer in the US Army 45-tonner (with side-rods), with Joy Mfg. critter (Plymouth? Whitcomb?), are ready to begin the parade.

The switcher duo is ready to parade past the depot.

The C&NW F7-led passenger train takes its turn. The C&NW commuter bilevels were listed but were no-shows, just like a few weeks ago when the UP Safety Train was at IRM for shuttle trips with the C&NW and MP Heritage units over toward Belvidere. IRM called it UP Family Days, employees got in free or at a discount, and this same  passenger train was led by C&NW SD40-2 6847.

Portrait of BN-2, the executive F9B.

Portrait of MILW 118C, not running this day.

The caboose train starts its move to the depot; sorry but I had to cut off the UP caboose.

MILW 760 emits some good white FM smoke as it clears Olson Road to move up to the depot. I chose the smoky view, pole obstructions or not, over the "clean" portrait.

The CB&Q SW7, painted a couple of years ago, takes its turn.

As the 20-car freight accelerates across Olson Road to begin its run to the depot, it's EMD smoke from the SD24 "losing badly" to the good old Alco smoke from GB&W Alligator 2407.

Bulldog (EMD) vs. Alligator (Alco), a study in noses.

First and third (?) generations of Alcos.

Some of the best cars in the 20-car freight; a bit more than half were painted nicely and worth photographing.

The good road cabooses were on the SP-led caboose train, which before and after the parade hauled passengers, so the big freight got this RI transfer hack.

Illinois Terminal 1605 looks right at home under wires. In fact, when delivered in a different, but also complex, green and yellow as 1506 in 1953, she hauled freights under wires still used by IT's passenger trains. I had to change slide rolls here and missed a slide of this unit moving, but she's been a regular for years and I've shot her active at IRM several times. 

The Nebraska Zephyr's E5 crosses Olson Road to begin her runby. She has been to Quincy, Ill., on the BNSF this year, and in past years, up the Wisconsin Central to Oshkosh, and to Fort Worth on the then BN.

The Zephyr is bracketed between MILW 37A and Spaulding Tower as she nears the "stage" on the main line.

Next up is Wisconsin Central SD45 7525.

C&NW GP7R 4160, ex-Rock Island, in a coming-and-going sequence as it totes a UP Burro crane toward the depot.

Last but not least, a two-unit "light engine" of C&NW SD40-2 6847 and BN U30C 5383, with only the C&NW running, leave the west-end staging area for their pause at the depot.

There is one private farm crossing just east of the museum across the UP and iRM tracks, and the foliage is not the best for shots of longer than a single engine or trolley car. With the parade over, as we headed for Seaman Road to shoot the big freight, we found the C&NW 4160 and the UP crane parked just west of this private crossing. \

We waited at Seaman Road crossing -- the only photographers there other than 1 IRM guy who drove west along the tracks for a few hundred yards -- for about 20 minutes before the congestion at IRM cleared and the freight, parked east of the road, was OK'ed to back up. As it went by and into the siding for a meet, I snapped some of the freight cars, having shot only the Borden milk tank car earlier. Here are 8, a group which I have entitled "Tanks a Lot!"

The freight backed across the road and stopped with the engines perfectly spotted for photos, still fouling the east switch. An IRM volunteer on the GB&W 2407 dismounted and walked around, taking a few pictures. Soon the Nebraska Zephyr showed up for the meet, and the freight accelerated in reverse, showing lots of good Alco smoke! Note the Illinois Terminal "No Trespassing" sign.

After the freight cleared, backing up westbound, the Zephyr pulled by on a regular passenger run, heading for the east end of the track a half mile away or so. Apparently, to judge from the kids and mom in "Vesta," the air conditioning was functioning well.

As we reached the Olson Road crossing, the big freight had not cleared yet, still backing across. The views from the north show Spalding Tower and a final "smoke salute."

Heading into Union proper, I  made this farewell photo looking east from the end of IRM's track. Behind the BN U30C and C&NW SD40-2 is the 20-car freight. The interchange track with the UP is visible, and the crane is parked on it, which makes me wonder if it's still a UP piece of equipment. Time here is 3:05, and we were back in Waukesha well before 5, satisfied with our luck for the day. The next day Sunday, turned out cloudy with some rain later on, so we were glad we made the choice to go on the first day.


TRAINS Editor Jim Wrinn and new Assistant Editor Steve Sweeney went to Sunday's Diesel Day at IRM. Among the changes from Saturday's lineup were these:
• The 20-car freight was led by the CB&Q SD24 504, which was wyed and coupled ahead of the GB&W "Alligator." About 10 cars back, the Minnesota Transfer RS3 200 was inserted as a "mid-train helper," I suspect to make it easier to cut the train in two when it came time to disassemble.
• The C&NW bilevel commuter cars were operated, in push-mode eastbound, with the BN Executive paint E9A BN-3 pushing. The C&NW F7 411 continued to haul the combine and three DL&W coaches. The caboose train still had the grubby SP SD7.
• The C&NW Geep 4160 did not have the UP crane.
I "think" that's all the significant differences, other than their sky clouded up some during the parade.
-- Dave Ingles

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