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 Post subject: Re: Visiting the Illionis Railway Museum
PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 1:57 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:58 am
Posts: 728
So there isn't commuter train service close to IRM... is there any bus service nearby that might help Joshua get there?

Steve Hunter


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 Post subject: Re: Visiting the Illionis Railway Museum
PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 2:10 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2126
Location: Northern Illinois
sbhunterca wrote:
So there isn't commuter train service close to IRM... is there any bus service nearby that might help Joshua get there?

Steve Hunter


In a word, No. Forty years ago Greyhound had a route on US 20 that would stop, I am told, and that put you within three or four miles of the museum, but the "running dog" is gone, and anyway no one will pick up a hitchhiker anymore.

What is so hard to grasp about the concept of being out in the country? Do you expect to take a bus to Wall Drug?

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 Post subject: Re: Visiting the Illinois Railway Museum
PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 2:36 pm 

Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2007 12:45 am
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Location: Illinois
Dennis Storzek wrote:
What is so hard to grasp about the concept of being out in the country? Do you expect to take a bus to Wall Drug?

Actually...
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 Post subject: Re: Visiting the Illionis Railway Museum
PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 3:22 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 12:59 pm
Posts: 525
Getting there by public transit is still a legitimate question.

Greyhound may be moribund, but there are a lot of local public transit agencies (at least in California), and Greyhound's web site can plan interline trips with them to some rural destinations.

For example, Rio Vista RR Museum, CA is in Greyhound's system. One has to know that they mean the Western Railway Museum, but the trip is possible. The last leg is via the Delta Breeze, our local bus line.


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 Post subject: Re: Visiting the Illionis Railway Museum
PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 3:55 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:25 pm
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Dennis Storzek wrote:
Les Beckman wrote:
All this talk about visiting the Illinois Railway Museum via train out of Chicago and then finding a way to Union via taxi or rental car, got me to thinking about an IRM plan I once heard about, running a train to Union on a Saturday morning, direct from Chicago. The story I heard was that the Nebraska Zephyr was supposed to be used for this (the recent operation over common carrier trackage indicates that it could have been done). Anyway, I wonder if any serious thought was ever given to this, perhaps using a regular METRA train to its final destination, and then continuing with the train set to the museum. A return trip a number of hours later, and then using the train set for a regular METRA run back to the Windy City. Would need to put a platform in at Union on the old C&NW (now UP) line, which seems doable. But I'm sure there are other things (insurance, crew costs, etc.) that may not be able to be addressed for such an operation to actually be done.

Les


That would be a logistical nightmare, as I don't think any equipment stays downtown overnight, so that train would have to deadhead in from the end of the line, then deadhead back out afterwards to be in position for Monday morning. Probably only get four hours at the museum out of a twelve hour crew day. For what, eight or ten riders? Nobody expects to ride Metra out to the country; they all have cars.



Dennis -

I'm a bit confused about your explanation here. First of all, I agree that 99.99% of those visiting IRM come by car. No argument there. But what I was suggesting (even if illogical, which it probably is) is this:

METRA train 2703 departs Chicago on a Saturday at 8:30 a.m.
Scheduled to arrive in Elgin, Illinois at 9:43 a.m.

METRA train 2718 departs Elgin on a Saturday at 3:55 p.m.
Scheduled to arrive back in Chicago at 5:09 p.m.

All regularly scheduled service with normal METRA employees. I admit that I don't know that much about Elgin, Illinois to know if a connection exists between the METRA station location there and the ex-C&NW line that runs out to Union. But let's just say that some kind of connection does exist. And let's say that the train set, after discharging its regular ridership in Elgin, can somehow negotiate that connecting track and run out to Union and arrive there in say, an hour; or 10:43 a.m. Riders detrain and have about 4 hours to visit IRM. The METRA trainset then departs Union at 2:55 p.m. and using the same connection trackage, makes it back to Elgin to operate as regularly scheduled train number 2718 as listed above, departing for Chicago at 3:55 p.m. Riders would be back in Chicago at 5:09 p.m. I think that this is a decent timed outing for a family who doesn't want to jump in the car and head out for a visit to IRM. Or for out of town visitors. I don't understand where your argument of deadheading, or equipment staying downtown overnight, comes into it. But, maybe I'm just being a dunderhead. Please enlighten me when you get the chance. Thanks.

Les


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 Post subject: Re: Visiting the Illionis Railway Museum
PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:54 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2126
Location: Northern Illinois
Yeah, I see your point, Les. The problem is, the connection in Elgin doesn't currently exist, although it could. The UP (ex CNW Belvidere branch) and Metra (ex MILW mainline to Savanna) are parallel, adjacent, and on the same grade just east of the Big Timber terminal, although not on the same gradient. The MILW is descending eastward into downtown Elgin in the Fox River valley, while the CNW stays higher up the hillside and crosses the river much higher above the water. Westward, the CNW is descending to cross under the MILW at a place called Almora. There was never a connection here because all interchange was handled further east by the EJ&E, or in transfers between Bensenville and Proviso yards. But there is a place a connection could be installed just east of the station, at about where McClean Blvd. crosses the tracks. I's my prediction that this connection will eventually go in to allow Metra service to Huntley, but I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for it.

The problem currently is the Belvidere branch goes much further south to meet the Metra west line in West Chicago, so the dog leg makes for a longer trip. And, it meets the west line midway between terminals, sixty five minutes from Chicago, forty minutes from Elburn (Saturday local schedule). I don't see any weekend trains that short turn at West Chicago, or anywhere for that matter.

Anyway, running a weekend only Metra service through Huntley is just going to get all the Huntley commuters who currently drive to Big Timber (Elgin) asking, "Why not during the week?" I'm not particularly sure the UP would be interested in this at this point. Of course, if the Belvidere Chrysler plant ever shuts down, they'd likely want to dump the whole branch on Metra, but that's still in the future.

It will come, someday.

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 Post subject: Re: Visiting the Illionis Railway Museum
PostPosted: Thu Jul 25, 2013 11:09 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:25 pm
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Dennis -

Appreciate the explanation.


Les


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 Post subject: Re: Visiting the Illionis Railway Museum
PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:19 am 

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 5:46 am
Posts: 2455
Location: S.F. Bay Area
Being out in the sticks is normal for railroad museums. Particularly those few with land. Because the classic winning formula has been "be 50 miles out of town", far enough away for cheap land or a cheap rail line, and to keep the vandals and encroachment at bay, but still close enough to draw customers from a metro area of millions.

The very thing which recommends this type of location for a railroad museum, defeats its accessibility on transit. It's too far out and too low density for transit to viably serve the location.

What saved Rio Vista Jct. is the spindly nature of the Bay Area, with huge swaths of mountains, conservation land and bay leaving only skinny corridors of developable land.* This caused the "metro area" to ooze outward much farther than most cities of comparable size. That, and the Rio Vista (proper) dial-a-ride had enough demand for the 23-mile ride into Fairfield to just make it a scheduled run.


*Statistically, the Bay Area has slightly fewer people per square mile than metro Detroit, shocking when you figure the typical suburban Detroit yard takes 2 hours to mow, and the Bay Area is famous for its cheek to jowl density.


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 Post subject: Re: Visiting the Illionis Railway Museum
PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:35 am 

Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2012 12:11 am
Posts: 141
Location: North Carolina USA
This reminds me of the museum at Monticello that originally ran on former IT track much like IRM on the former E&B which a parallel line that was eventually folded into the museum and became, the main line, which may be a remote if impractical extension of track for IRM further East rather than the focus being the expense of bridge building along the lower E&B grade next to the UP. Being completely ignorant of public transit options further East, are there any? My own counterpoint is the maintainability of more track in light of the potential downfall of limited resources being over extended...although I see that the streetcar loop is being extended.


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 Post subject: Re: Visiting the Illionis Railway Museum
PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2013 11:48 am 

Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 12:58 pm
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Location: Chicago USA
It would be a fairly simple matter to set up a ride board on the IRM's or some other site. Make it clear the the museum (or operator of other site) bears no liability for accidents or unfulfilled commitments.

Someone would post that they want to get from someplace to the museum the morning of whenever and someone who might already be going that way anyway can go a little out of their way in exchange for some money towards gas. I'm sure there are plenty of folks who would visit in this way but not enough to fill trains or justify regular shuttle buses.

Steve


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 Post subject: Re: Visiting the Illionis Railway Museum
PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:00 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 12:59 pm
Posts: 525
Bruce Duensing wrote:
Being completely ignorant of public transit options further East, are there any?

One web site to check is the
American Public Transit Association's list of links by state.


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 Post subject: Re: Visiting the Illionis Railway Museum
PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:42 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8399
Location: Baltimore, MD
This is not to pick on the IRM, or anyone in general, but how often have any of us really, REALLY examined how "alternative-transport-friendly" our places are?

I happen to be in the Northeast. Let me look at some of the places I work or have worked with:

Baltimore Streetcar Museum: Two blocks from multiple bus routes (including a free downtown Circulator route), Amtrak/MARC Penn Station, and a few blocks further from Light Rail.
B&O Museum: On or near a couple bus lines, including a different free downtown Circulator route, connecting the tourist areas to it for free. (At one point the Museum experimented with a free vintage shuttle bus from Inner Harbor to the Museum.)
Wilmington & Western:About a 500-foot walk from a major Wilmington-Newark bus route.
Ellicott City Station: not readily accessible (not a surprise to anyone who's seen downtown Ellicott City's narrow streets)
Strasburg: Ironically, I can ride a Red Rose Route 14 transit bus to Leaman Place, but not to Strasburg, and after all these years, the Strasburg STILL can't handle walk-up riders at Leaman Place, let alone Amtrak interchange......

Never mind visitors, how about your volunteers or docents? We have volunteers at the BSM who ride in on buses, and one library volunteer who rides MARC up from D.C. regularly to help at weekday work parties.

Of course, asking for bus connections to the WW&F, East Broad Top, or Cumbres & Toltec is unreasonable. But at least look at the possibilities.


Last edited by Alexander D. Mitchell IV on Thu Aug 01, 2013 3:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Visiting the Illionis Railway Museum
PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2013 2:11 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2126
Location: Northern Illinois
Bruce Duensing wrote:
...Being completely ignorant of public transit options further East, are there any?


Transit options? You mean like bus? What'sa bus?

Your question prompted me to do something I have never done in the thirty five years I've lived outside the city... find a system map for the PACE suburban bus service. View it here:

http://www.pacebus.com/pdf/RTA_System_map.pdf

For reference, Union is a couple inches off the left edge of the map between D and E, where highways 20 and 176 converge.

I noticed a couple things of interest; There is a lot of service between the Fox River towns, from Carpentersville down to Aurora. This is effectively the area once served by the Aurora Elgin & Fox River Electric, so that area has a tradition of public transit for the last hundred twenty or so years. It also has population density sufficient to support the service. More interesting is the service on Highway 14 between Crystal Lake, Woodstock, and Harvard... Apparently, in Mc Henry County, cows ride buses. More likely, the route was put on when service on the Metra rail line to Harvard was cut.

As you can see, not a lot of options.

Just as an aside, I live off the left edge of the map, too, and I'd rather not pay for something I'll never use.

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 Post subject: Re: Visiting the Illionis Railway Museum
PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2013 2:31 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2012 12:11 am
Posts: 141
Location: North Carolina USA
I can recall (before moving South) that the Chicago Tribune ( on many an occasion ) ballyhooed the growth of the suburbs in the general area of IRM before real estate and banking took a nosedive and heaven only knows what growth, if any, will occur to expand public transit options in that still mostly agricultural area. I suppose for all practical purposes, the possible advent of public transport to IRM is a moot point.
Outside of alternative transport for volunteers, in this automobile culture, I wonder if there would be a significant traffic increase in visitors to IRM if there was an easier route to get there, as I tend to doubt that PACE as a "slow boat to China" would have much appeal or use for others who would have to pay for it via taxes.What is probably not so ironic is the E&B served this area and went bust without any takers. Not much has changed since then.


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 Post subject: Re: Visiting the Illionis Railway Museum
PostPosted: Fri Jul 26, 2013 3:50 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2126
Location: Northern Illinois
Well, I would imagine that by this time Joshua has made his rental car arrangements, so I guess we can just continue this discussion in the direction it's going...

Back thirty or forty years ago, when I was active at IRM, I would occasionally eschew the tollway and drive the "Huntley Blacktop" into the Fox Valley. At that time it was all rural except for the six blocks through Huntley, over hill and dale, until the last rise gave a beautiful panorama of the Fox Valley, an orchard-like nursery providing the foreground. That is the area the Trib was crowing about; it is now entirely packed full of houses, condos, strip malls, and fast food joints. IRM is still another seven or eight miles beyond the western fringes, although some "estate housing" (read, big lots) has been springing up in the surrounding area, which is why IRM is buying the surrounding farmland as fast as they can. If and when this development resumes, it will eventually push west along the former Milwaukee Road, too, and there will be a push to extend Metra service to Hampshire, which still won't get to IRM. However, since the area around Huntley has a head start, I'm banking on a lot of pressure to turn the Metra line northwest past Elgin and that could put the end of the line within sight of the end of IRM track.

The Elgin & Belvidere is the quintessential interurban electric railway. Conceived when the automobile was still nothing more than a rich man's toy, its purpose was to provide better service than the parallel "steam road" could ever hope to compete with, and take all its passenger business. The fact that there were two brand new technologies developing concurrently is what makes the story of the interurban so compelling; the people who bet on the 'lectric cars lost.

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