Near Union in McHenry County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
The Elgin & Belvidere Electric Company/Rebirth of the Elgin & Belvidere
The E&B was completed in 1907. Connections were available at Belvidere for Rockford, Freeport, and Janesville, and in Elgin for Aurora and Chicago. Passenger locals stopped at crossroads and farmhouses, often carrying children to school or picking up the cans of fresh milk that gave the rural line its "Dairy Route" nickname.
Union was a favorite destination during the 1920's, as its taverns never shut down during Prohibition. Union was also the site of the world's first (1915) automated electrical substation, converting high voltage transmission line AC to 600 volt DC for the E&B's overhead.
With competition from the new Grant Highway (U.S. 20) and bus lines, the E&B closed down and ended all service in March, 1930.
IERM members investigated potential new sites near Joliet, Batavia, Union, and East Troy, Wisconsin. The organization (renamed Illinois Railway Museum in 1962) eventually selected a portion of the abandoned Elgin & Belvidere interurban line between Union and Coyne Station Road, and purchased the vacant right-of-way for back taxes. IRM also bought an additional 20 acres of farmland on Olson Road to provide room for a permanent building and storage yard.
In 1964, the museum's collection of 42 cars moved to the site, where members constructed over a mile of track on the old E&B right-of-way east of Union. Electric passenger operations began in 1966.
Since then, IRM has expanded to more than 120 acres, with over a dozen buildings, ten miles of operating and display track, and nearly 400 pieces of rolling stock -- all accomplished by our volunteers!
Erected by Illinois Railway Museum.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Railroads & Streetcars. A significant historical month for this entry is March 1930.
Location. 42° 13.759′ N, 88° 31.669′ W. Marker is near Union, Illinois, in McHenry Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 7000 Olson Road, Union IL 60180, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. 1851 Marengo Station (within shouting distance of this marker); Indiana Harbor Belt 1181 (within shouting distance of this marker); Simplex Type Automatic Coupler (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Couplers (about 300 feet away); Railroad Brakes / Westinghouse Automatic Air Brakes (about 300 feet away); Railroad Standard Time (about 300 feet away); Spaulding Tower / Towers and Interlocking Plants (about 300 feet away); Railroad Rails (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Union.
Also see . . .
1. Elgin & Belvidere Electric Co. Don's Rail Photos entry (Submitted on December 16, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. History of the Illinois Railway Museum. Museum website (Submitted on December 16, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
Credits. This page was last revised on January 23, 2021. It was originally submitted on December 16, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 890 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on December 16, 2010, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.