Our History


The Prairie State Railroad Club began as an informal organization in 1982, when the Northern Illinois Steam
Power Club – an organization devoted to the preservation and exhibition of antique steam powered tractors and related farming implements, asked several persons active in the “live steam railroading” hobby if they would build and operate a small loop of track to demonstrate miniature live steam railroading at the Northern Illinois Steam Power Club's annual meet held near Sycamore, Illinois. A loop of track measuring about 500 feet in circumference was quickly built and trains were operated for that year’s meet.


In 1983, this informal group incorporated as the Prairie State Railroad Club, an Illinois not-for-profit corporation. Its primary activity continued to be the operation of the demonstration miniature railway at the Northern Illinois Steam Power Club's annual meet.


Due to limited space, however, the club began to look for another location where a more extensive track layout could be built for year-round use. In 1990, the club reached an agreement to build a track at Kenny Field (also known as Plowman’s Park) in Big Rock, Illinois. Located next to a busy Burlington Northern Railway freight line, this wooded site is the club’s main operating location. A round trip around the railroad is about one mile.


Other club facilities include a long curved trestle bridge and an engine house.