Union Depot Railroad Museum

Hours:  Saturday, AND Sunday -  Noon - 4:00 PM

 P. O. Box 433 * 783 main Street * Mendota, IL 61342-0433 * 815.539.3373*  mmhsmuseum@yahoo.com

Donation: $3.00 Adult - $2.00 Student - $5.00 Union Depot and Hume-Carnegie Museums


Union Depot Railroad Museum - 783 Main Street, Mendota, Illinois

View expanded operational HO scale model of Mendota in the 1940's with the addition of roundhouse shop and diorama built by David Beck

Personal guided tours of rolling stock:

1911 CB&Q wooden caboose

1923 CB&Q steam locomotive and tender

1938 Milwaukee Road passenger car

1949  Golden State Limited diner

Ride on the "Gandy Dancer Express" - an open air, motorized inspection car - travels on former Illinois Central tracks

Gift Shop with many train related items


Although this Southern Pacific Dining Car has been located in Mendota, IL for many years, it was not until recently that it was donated to Mendota Museum & Historical Society by Warren Lathom.

This car was built in 1949 at the Pullman Works, Chicago, IL, for Southern Pacific Railroad. It traveled through LaSalle-Peru in route from Chicago to Los Angeles.

Mendota Museum & Historical Society is planning  a fund raising campaign to restore both the inside and outside to its original condition.



Engine 4978 - located south of the Union Depot Railroad Museum.

The CB&Q steam engine # 4978 on display at the Union Depot Railroad Museum was built in 1923 at the original cost of $55,296.00. This locomotive was used in service at Mendota. The Waycar or caboose was built in 1911 at the cost of $1,582.72.


Portion of the working HO model of Mendota in the 1930's - located in the Union Depot Railroad Museum

Roundhouse, donated by Vernon Beck, has been added to the layout at the Union Depot Railroad Museum.

Union Depot Railroad Museum Viewed From the North


Mendota Railroad History

Mendota is an Indian name meaning crossing of the trails. In 1853 the Illinois Central Railroad and Chicago & Aurora Railroad crossed at this junction called Mendota. (Chicago & Aurora became the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy in 1858.)

The Illinois Central was known as a land-grant railroad, the first of its kind. The railroad was built on land granted to it by the government. The land grant for the construction of the Illinois Central was made possible by special legislation implemented by Abraham Lincoln and Stephan A. Douglas. (Abe Lincoln was an attorney for the Illinois Central before becoming president.) The Illinois Central line was at one time the longest in the world. A section is still in place on the west side of the Mendota Depot/museum. (The Illinois Central’s advertising slogan was The Mainline of Mid-America.) Mendota quickly became a big railroad town because it was a major interchange point for freight and passengers. The Illinois Central freight house, which was built in 1854, still stands in Mendota. It is the oldest brick structure in town.

The Illinois Central (I.C.) played an important part in the Civil War, hauling 30% of both troops and supplies south. One hundred troops gathered at the Mendota I.C. freight house to board the train. In 1870, a total of 39 passenger trains stopped daily in Mendota. Twenty-five by way of CB&Q and 14 via the Illinois Central. In 1904 the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad became the third line to come through Mendota. This railroad remained up to 1981.

The Passenger House a combination Hotel and depot, burned to the ground on February 20, 1885. Shortly thereafter, building was begun on the Union Depot. A banquet and ball opening the new depot was held on February 23, 1888.. The Union Depot was torn down in 1942 except for the north end which today serves as an Amtrak waiting room and the Union Depot Railroad Museum.

What is today known as  Lake Mendota was once called the Railroad Pond. Water was piped in from the pond to the Mendota R.R. water towers for the steam locomotives.

Aerial View of Union Depot Railroad Museum


Guests riding on the Gandy Dancer with the Milwaukee Combine Car in the background


Union Depot Railroad Museum Mission Statement

The purpose of the Union Depot Railroad Museum is to preserve and share with others the Mendota area's rich railroad history which includes the CB&Q, the Illinois Central, and the Milwaukee Road. We hope to accomplish this through providing an assortment of varied railroad related experiences including interactive displays and fresh programs and displays. This will attract more people to our facilities, grow our membership, and continue to raise the funds necessary for our museum to succeed long into the future.




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