I was tickled when Roger Holmes of the Silver Creek & Stephenson Railroad, invited me to the Photo Special held in July, 2011. The photo session was thoughtfully scheduled between the Little River Railroad Birthday Celebration and the Rock Island Train Festival.

About the Silver Creek & Stephenson

The Silver Creek & Stephenson Railroad is located in Freeport, Illinois, and operates on the former Milwaukee Road right of way over track that was relaid by volunteer crews. The mission of the not-for-profit organization is to interpret branch line railroad operations once common across the country.


Silver Creek & Stephenson

Busy Day at Silver Creek & Stephenson Railroad Depot – Freeport, IL – Yard Goat Images Photo

Silver Creek & Stephenson operates one steam locomotive, a 1912 Heisler. This is a geared coal-fired steam locomotive which served three different wood products companies in Mississippi and South Carolina. After its industrial career ended, the locomotive moved to passenger service at the Maggie Valley Railroad in North Carolina and Whitewater Valley Railroad in Indiana before coming to the Silver Creek & Stephenson in 1986.

Silver Creek & Stephenson

Silver Creek & Stephenson Heisler #2 simmers in the morning sun – Yard Goat Images Photo

The other three locomotives on the Silver Creek & Stephenson roster are diesel powered “critters”, which are small engines normally used in industries such as mills, to pull or shove a few cars at a time around the property. The museum’s three examples are all classics, and they brought out #5 for the Photo Special, in addition to the Heisler. Brookville Locomotive Works, which is still building locomotives,  built the 150 horsepower industrial engine in 1945. Gasoline is used to start the engine, which then runs on diesel fuel.

The photo session allowed the photographers to view both engines in operation at many places along the nearly two mile long Silver Creek & Stephenson line, with the crews dressed in period clothing. There were antique cars, trucks and even a fire engine to create some nice scenes.

Following the morning photographer special, the railroad held its annual “throttle time”, which allowed paying participants to operate a steam locomotive during the afternoon.

The volunteers are a friendly bunch. We enjoyed visiting with many of them during lunch inside the large train shed, which offered some relief from the hot sun. In 1993 the museum volunteers built a depot based on plans from the Illinois Central depot in Eleroy, IL.

The video program about the Silver Creek & Stephenson Photo Special is found on our DVD, Steamin’ Summer – Volume 2!


Visit the Silver Creek & Stephenson

The Silver Creek & Stephenson is worth seeking out and visiting. Another attraction of interest directly across the road is the Silver Creek Museum. This institution exhibits items celebration America’s historical heritage. The 130-ton stationary Cooper Corliss Engine is housed in a separate building. The museum also offers lunch, including homemade pie!

There is an annual Threshing Show which operates in conjunction with both the Museum and the Silver Creek & Stephenson.

I hope you will consider a trip to the Silver Creek & Stephenson in Freeport, IL soon!

Steve Mitchell, Yard Goat Images


Silver Creek & Stephenson

Silver Creek & Stephenson Heisler #2 in action – Yard Goat Images Photo