Chicago with Kids: Fox River Trolley Museum

Take a step back in time at the Fox River Trolley Museum!  The Fox River Trolley Line dates back to 1896 and the Chicago, Aurora and Elgin Railway went out of business in 1961.  Visitors today are transported to a time when both passenger and freight electric rail service operated from Chicago, Aurora, Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles, and Elgin.  The museum is located on Illinois Route 31 (365 South LaFox Street), three blocks south of State Street in South Elgin, IL.

Fox River Trolley Museum

Our Experience: We visited the Fox River Trolley Museum in early June and were quite surprised at what we saw.  Honestly, I almost wanted to turn around and head back to the car.  We were greeted by what looked like an old war camp, complete with tents and military vehicles!  I should say that I did little to no research before we visited and had no idea that we just so happened to be there during the Fox River Trolley Museum’s “Rails to Victory” WWII Living History Reenactment event that takes place each year in early June.  What a treat!

Fox River Trolley - Military Camp

As we got closer to the “camp”, I quickly shed my reservations when I realized what a gem we just walked into.  My son, and my husband, were both enamored with the WWII weaponry and supplies on display.

Fox River Trolley - Camp

Soldiers were dressed in full uniform, and many were delighted to speak with us about the event and explained the items exhibited.  I even learned that a traditional sock hop was held the night before and heard it was a lot of fun!

Fox River Trolley - Military Ambulance

Since the Rails to Victory celebration is a special event, regular trolley rides (normally $4/adult and $2/child) were not in service and, instead, the WWII reenactment was held along the trolley line.  The actors for the reenactment all wore fashions from the 1940’s (and looked very, very cool!) and passengers all played a role in the reenactment and were issued “passports” upon boarding.

Fox River Trolley - WWII Period Attire

I would have really enjoyed watching it since the events surrounding WWII fascinate me, but at $15 per person (including my 2-year-old), we just weren’t prepared to splurge $45 for the show.  At times we could also hear gunfire nearby and thought that my toddler might be freaked out by it all anyway.  We are already planning for next year’s event though!

Fox River Trolley Car

We did, however, get to tour a few of the rail cars on display and my son was so excited to get to explore them all.

Fox River Trolley - Explore Rail Car

After our visit to the Fox River Trolley Museum, we took a short walk over to the Fox River, where my son was equally fascinated by throwing rocks in the river.  Boys…go figure!

Fox River Tossing Rocks

The Fox River Trolley Museum is generally only open on Saturdays and Sundays from 11am – 5pm.  If you’re planning a visit, be sure to pack a lunch to enjoy at one of the many picnic tables nearby.

This post is part of the Best of the Midwest Blog Hop.  Check out the sites below to see more great museums in the Midwest!



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  1. Aww will visit it with my family. thank you for sharing!
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