Enter antique train cars, drive a simulated locomotive and more on Pullman Railroad Days

Block Club Chicago

PULLMAN — Guided tours of antique Pullman railcars, a World War II exhibit of American railroads and virtual reality experiences are among the attractions of a weekend-long celebration.

The Historic Pullman Foundation will host the Pullman Railroad Days from May 14-15. The festival honors decades of railroad innovation in Chicago and the United States.

The celebration kicks off the tourist season in the neighborhood, which is home to Chicago’s only national park, the Pullman National Monument. Visitors can enjoy a mix of events with tickets and free attractions.

Tickets include tours of the Pullman factory grounds and surrounding neighborhood; entrance to Hotel Florence at 11111 S. Forrestville Ave. for self-guided tours; and admission to the “Railroaders: Jack Delano’s Homefront Photography” exhibit in the Pullman Exhibit Hall, 11141 S. Cottage Grove Ave.

Tickets cost $20 in presale or $25 on the weekend of the event. click here to buy tickets.

Without a ticket, visitors can enjoy guided tours by Pullman passenger cars built 1914-1980 at the 111th Street Metra station; a trip to the Pullman National Monument Visitors Center, in the historic clock tower building; a locomotive simulator to learn to drive a train; and a virtual reality experience exploring freight railways.

“Pullman has the greatest concentration of historic buildings in Chicago — every corner is a building that is more than a century old,” said Julian Jackson, Executive Director of the Historic Pullman Foundation. “There are so many great stories in the Pullman neighborhood.”

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Pullman National Monument Visitor Center during the memorial’s grand opening on September 3, 2021.

A Ford Model A car club will attend the celebration Saturday, while photographer and model railroader Bon French will present the Jack Delano exhibit Sunday at 4 p.m. at Greenstone Church, 11211 S. Saint Lawrence Ave.

Admission to French’s presentation is free with a Pullman Railroad Days ticket or $10 alone. click here to purchase a separate ticket for the call.

French will “go into Jack Delano’s railroad photography and the stories he was able to discover” [about] families working on the railroads,” with a focus on the role the railroad industry played in World War II, Jackson said.

The presentation kicks off a series of monthly lectures highlighting Pullman’s stories. Colleen Callahan, director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, will give a presentation, while another will focus on the experiences of Filipino immigrants who moved to Pullman for factory jobs.

The four passenger cars stationed at the 111th Street Metra stop for the celebration represent different eras in the history of the Pullman company, Jackson said. Three of them return to the neighborhood where they were first built.

At hand will be the . to be 1914 Francis L. Suter carthe 1923 NYC 3 car – which was available for tours at the grand opening of the national monument in September – the streamlined 1950 Royal Street observation car and the 1980 George M. Pullman sleeping car.

The George M. Pullman car is owned by Amtrak, which still operates the car, Jackson said.

The other cars are owned by members of the American Association of Private Rail Car Owners, who “are stewards of these historic artifacts” and are happy to make them available to the public, Jackson said.

click here for more information about Pullman Railroad Days.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
People tour the NYC3, which was built by Pullman in 1928 for Harold Sterling Vanderbilt, is stationed at the 11th Street Metra station during the grand opening of the Pullman National Monument on September 3, 2021.

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