Monday, June 20, 2016

For the first time in over a decade, a steam-powered passenger excursion will depart downtown Chicago Union Station on June 25th and 26th.

Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive no. 765 will operate The Galesburg Zephyr between Union Station and Galesburg, Illinois for the Galesburg Railroad Days. These all-day, round-trip excursions will feature vintage passenger cars from the 1940s and 50s and include accommodations in standard coach, deluxe coach, and first class and dome car.

No. 765 was originally built in 1944, restored in 1979 and completely rebuilt in 2005 and is maintained by an all-volunteer crew.

The Galesburg Zephyr, a 16 car excursion train, is a nod to the fleets of passenger trains that the Burlington Route operated “EVERYWHERE WEST” starting in the 1930’s. The Burlington Route was an early innovator in diesel locomotives, stainless steel passenger cars and the development of the dome car with superior visibility. This train will carry two vintage dome cars from the 1950’s.

“These trips represent our first partnership with Amtrak and BNSF to bring the magic of the 765 to thousands of people,” said Bill Otter, president of the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society (FWRHS). “Passengers aboard this trip will be the first to experience the 765 at high-speed in many years.”

Throughout its history, Galesburg has been heavily linked to the railroad industry. The state's first railroads to connect Quincy and Chicago (the two largest cities at the time) went straight through Galesburg, as did the late 19th century Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway.

Though the old stations have been closed down, citizens of Galesburg remain very knowledgeable and proud of their history. The Galesburg Railroad Days is not only our grandest celebration, it's a way to keep alive the stories of our ancestors and those who have laid the tracks for us today. This is our way of continuing to pass down our heritage to our children.

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