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Roseland, Pullman

Enter Antique Train Cars, Control A Simulated Locomotive And More At Pullman Railroad Days

The Historic Pullman Foundation's weekend-long celebration of the iconic train company and its namesake neighborhood takes place May 14-15.

Crews work on a gate to the Pullman National Monument in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago on August 26, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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PULLMAN — Tours of antique Pullman train cars, an exhibit featuring World War II-era photos of American railways and virtual reality experiences are among the attractions during a weekend-long celebration.

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

The celebration kicks off the tourism season in the neighborhood, which hosts Chicago’s only national park, the Pullman National Monument. Attendees will be able to enjoy a mix of ticketed events and free attractions.

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

Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 the weekend of the event. Click here to buy tickets.

Without a ticket, visitors can enjoy tours of 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 how to operate a train; and a virtual reality experience exploring freight railroads.

“Pullman has the greatest concentration of historic buildings in Chicago — every corner is a building that’s well over a century old,” said Julian Jackson, Historic Pullman Foundation executive director. “There are so many fantastic stories in the Pullman neighborhood.”

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The Pullman National Monument Visitors Center during the monument’s grand opening on Sept. 3, 2021.

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

Entry to French’s presentation is free with a Pullman Railroad Days ticket or $10 on its own. Click here to buy a standalone ticket to the talk.

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

The presentation kicks off a series of monthly talks highlighting stories from Pullman. Colleen Callahan, Illinois Department of Natural Resources director, will host one 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 of Pullman company’s history, Jackson said. Three of them are returning to the neighborhood where they were built for the first time.

On hand will be the 1914 Francis L. Suter car, the 1923 NYC 3 car — which was available for tours at the national monument’s grand opening in September — the streamlined 1950 Royal Street observation car and the 1980 George M. Pullman sleeper 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 enjoy making them available to the public, Jackson said.

Click here for more information on 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 Sept. 3, 2021.

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