2016 Top Stories Countdown — No. 7: The Curious Incident of the Great Galesburg Zephyr
- Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series counting down the top 10 Kane County Connects stories of 2016.
Kane County Connects’ seventh-most-read story of 2016 was about an event that never happened.
How is such a thing possible? Let’s recount the June events that led to the mystery of the great Galesburg Zephyr.
The story started with a simple tip from Jake Zimmerman, superintendent of the Kane County Veterans Assistance Commission, who is a bit of a railroad history buff. Jake pointed out that a steam locomotive would be “passing through Aurora on its way to Galesburg from Chicago,” and he included links to a couple news releases, which we posted on Kane County Connects.
Apparently, there are a lot of people in Kane County with a keen interest in classic locomotives, because this particular post ultimately garnered 7,119 page views. Curiosity was piqued, too, because this would be the first time in more than a decade that a steam-powered passenger excursion would depart from downtown Chicago’s Union Station — and travel through Kane County along the way.
Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive No. 765 was to operate The Galesburg Zephyr from Union Station to Galesburg, IL, for the Galesburg Railroad Days. And round-trip passenger rides were going to fund the excursion.
Unfortunately, the best laid plans of mice and railroad men often go awry. Ticket sales for the Galesburg Zephyr turned out to be “less than satisfactory,” according to a subsequent news release from the Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, which had sponsored the trip.
In the end, ticket purchases were refunded, and all customers were offered “a 10 percent discount on an equivalent ticket for any future excursion sponsored by the organization.” We updated the article to let everyone know the excursion was canceled, and as you can imagine, folks who wanted to see the steam-powered train chugging through Kane County were disappointed.
But the hope remains that, someday, the Galesburg Zephyr will ride again.
2016 Top Stories Countdown
- No. 10: Middle School Student Threatens Shooting
- No. 9: Free Wood Chips!
- No. 8: Kane County Mourns Loss of Steve Chidester