Chatham Railroad Museum
100 N. State St.
Chatham, IL 62629
Find us on Facebook at Chatham-IL-Depot & Railroad Museum
Open Second and Fourth Sunday of the
month from 2:00 until 4:00
Open other times upon request.
Group tours welcome with advance notice.
Contact Bill Shannon at (217) 483-7792
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The first railroad through Chatham was the Alton and Sangamon Railroad, chartered by the Illinois General Assembly in 1847 to build a railroad from Alton to Springfield by way of Carlinville and New Berlin where it would connect with the Northern Cross, Illinois' first railroad, using their track to enter Springfield. In 1851 the General Assembly authorized the Alton and Sangamon to construct their railroad using the most direct route from Carlinville to Springfield, thus paving the way for the railroad to go through Chatham.
The first train from Alton to Springfield went through Chatham on September 9, 1852, but by then the railroad's name had been changed to Chicago and Mississippi. It was changed again in 1855 to Chicago, Alton and Mississippi and in 1861 to Chicago and Alton, then in 1931 it became the Alton Railroad. The name changed again in 1947 when it was purchased by the Mobile and Ohio and became the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio.
The current station was built in 1902 to replace an earlier station, just north of the present location, that had burned. An early 1900's timetable lists 12 passenger trains a day through Chatham with 2 in each direction stopping at the station. Western Union Telegraph and United States Express services were both available at the station and local residents could ship and receive freight such as furniture, farm supplies, etc. After 70 years of service, the station was closed with the merger of Illinois Central and the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio in 1972. The railroad is currently owned by Union Pacific and is used for freight and Amtrak passenger trains.
The station is owned by the Village of Chatham and was restored by the Friends of the Depot in 1991. In 1999 the Chicago & Illinois Midland Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society signed an agreement with Chatham to re-restore the station and create the Chatham Railroad Museum. The museum will preserve the station and area railroad history for the benefit of the community.