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Friday, June 13, 2014

Warrenville: St. James' Farm Caboose

Warrenville, Illinois -- A few weekends ago, my family was introduced to the gem that is St. James Farm. The property, now part of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, originally served as a private retreat for the McCormick family of International Harvester fame. They left behind remarkable dairy and equestrian facilities, as well as an impressive collection of sculpture. Visitors can now enjoy the preserve's more than 600 acres by trail, or by simply enjoying fishing or picnicking.

Of special interest to my group, of course, was the 1906 Burlington & Quincy Caboose. This railcar first came to St. James Farm during the McCormick family's days here to entertain children and it still fulfills its mission. Kids rush to board the caboose and see the equipment still featured from its' days as working rail stock. On the day we visited, a hay-ride guide told us a push button sets the caboose to rocking to emulate the feel of a train really rolling down the track. (We could only find plenty of kids to wiggle it on the rails in their own way.)

Love this vintage
Burlington dish towel!
To learn more about what really went on in the caboose during its operational days and why it ended up at St. James Farm, make a trip to the farm Saturday, June 14 between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Visitors will hear about the jobs of the brakeman and conductor and the CA & E Railroad. The program is free for kids under 5, $2 for kids 5-12 and $5 for adults. 

Enter St James Farm at Winfield Road. The preserve is just north of Butterfield Road (Illinois 56). For a map, click here

Inside the caboose

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