Written by Dan Miotti
The Illinois Live Steamers will be celebrating our 50th year as an organization on August 17-20 (Thu-Sun), 2017. This year’s meet will have auctions of live steam items, raffles, vendors, food, music and a host of characters.
Originally formed as the Northern Illinois Live Steamers, the group has come a long way since we were founded back in 1967. The idea was to have a place where live steamers could gather to share their interests in trains and enjoy outdoor miniature railroading.
At that time, the members of the NILS decided to purchase two pieces of adjoining property, each 165 feet wide, totaling almost 7-1/2 acres of land. This property was formerly used as an apple orchard. The 7.5″ gauge track was not as common in 1967 as it is today. The 3.5″ and 4.75″ gauge tracks came first. The club name was later shortened to Illinois Live Steamers or ILS.
The ILS club grounds are private property and, therefore, are not open to the general public! Fellow live steamers and those truly interested in the live steam and miniature railroading hobby are welcome.
The ILS club grounds are located approximately 30 miles southwest of Chicago. The club has tracks in four (4) gauges including: 6000+ feet of 7.5” gauge track, 5000+ feet of 4.75” track and approximately 500 feet of elevated 3.5”and G gauge track combination. Various scale structures have been built by members and placed along the track right-of-way to enhance the appearance of the railroad. Other track facilities include a turntable, steaming/engine repair bays and a hydraulic loading/un-loading hoist (also used as turntable).
Membership today exceeds 150 in various membership categories and operates a wide variety of equipment including live steam, electric, gas, gas-electric and gas-hydraulic/hydrostatic powered locomotives. Steam locomotives are fueled with either coal, propane or oil. Various types of rolling stock can be seen behind locomotives during train operations. Rolling stock was either purchased or built by the members themselves.
For those interested in attending our 50th Annual Meet, please contact the meet chairman (below). Additional information is also on our website http://www.illinoislivesteamers.com/50th
Dan Miotti – ILS 50th Anniversary Meet Chairman