Railroading Heritage of Midwest America to expand operations to Silvis Illinois shop & rail complex
The rail complex will be developed as a multiuse commercial development, historic preservation, restoration and future transportation museum.
In 1902, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad (Rock Island) chose the town of Silvis as the site of its largest locomotive repair shop, a central hub for its network that would eventually include a general stores department, repair shop, roundhouse, and large freight yard. Rock Island continued to use the shop until it shut down in March 1980. It was later acquired by National Railway Equipment.
NRE closed the Silvis shop in March 2021 as part of a plan to consolidate rail operations to its shops in Mt. Vernon, Ill. and Paducah, Ky. Since its inception in 1984, NRE has grown to become the world’s largest independent supplier of leased locomotives; new and remanufactured locomotives; new and rebuilt mechanical materials; electrical components; technical support; and field services.
Sandberg said at this time there are no plans to move Milwaukee Road steam locomotive No. 261 from its home base in Minneapolis, although it could be moved to Illinois to pull excursion trains on a temporary basis if necessary. The famous locomotive, built in 1944 by American Locomotive Company, has pulled excursion trains around the United States, including the Quad Cities since it was restored to operating condition in 1993. “We hope to someday construct a railroad museum in part of the complex,” said Sandberg. In addition to No. 261, the Friends owns a large fleet of historic passenger train cars and an E9 streamlined diesel locomotive. Some of the equipment could be displayed at the museum when not in use.
The Friends of the 261 is accepting donations to offset the cost of the project and is urging supporters of historic rail preservation to donate and become members of the organization.
The information can also be obtained at the organization’s new website www.rrhma.com