Railroad events at Glidden Homestead

DeKALB – Railroads played a key role in shaping the future of many Illinois communities, including DeKalb.

To commemorate Joseph F. Glidden’s part in bringing the railroad through DeKalb in 1853, the Glidden Homestead & Historical Center will offer special programming June 9 and 23 and July 14 and 28.

Railroad enthusiasts Bill Cummings of DeKalb and Rich DeMink of Downers Grove are featured presenters during the Glidden Railroad Days programming. Activities include a display of an early 1900s HO model steam train; screenings of the 30-minute video “Song of the Pioneer” at 1 and 2:30 p.m. June 9 and both dates in July; and a presentation on 19th-century Chicago & Northwestern railroad development in DeKalb by Cummings at 1 p.m. June 23.

“Song of the Pioneer” was produced for the centennial of the CNW in 1948 and covers the founding of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad and its early development building westward from Chicago.

Starting with a Lionel O-gauge model train, Cummings has been a rail fan most of his life.  His love of the Chicago & Northwestern stems from having been born Neenah, Wis., a CNW town, and having lived in three other CNW towns:  Evanston, Mount Prospect and DeKalb. He is collector of CNW memorabilia and CNW HO model trains. He is a member of the Chicago & Northwestern Historical Society, the Illinois Railway Museum and the Blackhawk Model Railroad Club in Oregon, Ill.

DeMink was employed in the freight rail industry for 27 years and the passenger rail industry for five years. Since his retirement in 2001, he has enjoyed volunteering in the NPS/Amtrak Trails to Rails Program, giving interpretive programs on Amtrak trains such as the Empire Builder as a volunteer docent in the summer months. DeMink’s wife, Sarah Glidden DeMink, is the great-grand-niece of Joseph F. Glidden and a member of the museum’s board of directors.

The homestead at 921 W. Lincoln Highway in DeKalb is the site where Joseph Glidden invented and manufactured “The Winner” barbed wire, for which he received a patent on Nov. 24, 1874. The house and barn, built in the 1860s, still stand on their original sites. Both are listed on the National Register of Historic Sites.

The Homestead is open for tours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and noon to 4 p.m. the second and fourth Sundays each month through October. Admission is $4 for ages 14 and older. Children younger than 14 and members are admitted free. For more information, call 815-756-7904 or visit

Railroading at the Glidden Homestead

921 W. Lincoln Highway, DeKalb

1 p.m. June 9, July 14 and July 28, screening of "Song of the Pioneer"

1 p.m. June 23, "19th-Century Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Development in DeKalb

Adults $4, children younger than 14, free

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