This rare shot of the train depot in Cropsey likely dates to the 1880s. A hamlet in the northeastern corner of McLean County, Cropsey was laid out in 1880 to serve as a stop on what would soon become the Illinois Central's “Bloomer Line" (the nearby communities of Anchor, Colfax and Cooksville all share the same origin story).
Museum Board member and railroad buff Mike Matejka tells us that this locomotive is a classic “American" 4-4-0 (The numbers refer to the wheel arrangement). Note the antlers affixed to the headlight!
Mike says that at this time engineers would personalize their locomotives with such accoutrements. Today, the old Illinois Central short line is operated by the Bloomer Shippers Connecting Railroad owned by Gibson City-based Alliance Grain Co.