Volo Museum chuggin’ along toward train tour and museum debut in 2022

Moving train cars from California to Illinois proves to be monumental task

VOLO – Three train cars, each weighing tens of thousands of pounds, recently arrived on the grounds of the Volo Museum.

The train cars are part of a new attraction at the museum, 27582 Volo Village Road.

Several more train cars are expected to arrive from California.

“It’s crazy. It’s stressful, but it’s fun,” Volo Museum Director Brian Grams said, noting that several sections of new fencing had to be removed, tons of rock brought in and graded and a segment of track laid for the initial installation, which is visible to passing motorists near Route 12 and Fox Lake Road.

This summer, Grams envisions guests lining up to board the museum’s trackless trains and enjoy the new Chuggin’ Along Train Tour and Museum. Featured will be the Jupiter 4-4-0 steam locomotive and tender used in Disney’s 2013 film “The Lone Ranger.” Also on view will be the parlor car from another train in the same movie, as well as the baggage and parlor cars made famous by Will Smith in “Wild Wild West.”

Leonardo DiCaprio fans will recognize the sinister locomotive from “Inception,” and Denzel Washington fans will recognize the cab from the heart-pounding thriller “Unstoppable.” There are even a couple of handcars from “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”

It was only a few weeks ago when Grams first spied his new treasures on eBay. The train cars were posted for sale by their former owner, the Fillmore & Western Railway Co. in Fillmore, California, with the caveat that they needed the train cars removed before the end of December, Grams said.

Grams clicked “buy now” and plunged full steam ahead into the logistics quagmire of shipping several train cars 2,035 miles over the road.

Finding trucks that can bear the weight, with trailers that sit low enough not to exceed height restrictions once loaded and then choreographing the dance between crane operators, riggers and truckers was mind-bending, Grams said.

Doing it in such a tight time frame and in the midst of the holiday season wasn’t a project for the faint of heart, he said.

“It’s not like shipping a car,” Grams said. “Getting the train cars here has far exceeded the cost of the purchase. We’ll be into it for more than $1 million by the time we’re done.”

Featuring TV and movie cars, vintage muscle cars and other attractions, the Volo Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission for adults is $19.95. Admission is $12.95 for children ages 5 to 12; the museum is free for those 4 and younger.

Those looking to add a visit to Jurassic Gardens, an indoor, animatronic dinosaur park that opened in 2021, can buy a combo ticket for $24.95 for children ages 5 to 12 or $31.95 for adults. Combo tickets are good for both parks for two consecutive days. A separate admission fee will be established in the summer for those looking to take in solely the train museum and tour. A new combo ticket also will be offered.

For information, visit volocars.com, find Volo Auto Museum or Chuggin’ Along Train Tour and Museum on Facebook, or call 815-385-3644.