The JOHN EMERY RAIL HERITAGE TRUST is pleased to announce the following grants for this year. John Emery was a long-time Chicago resident who was an avid rail enthusiast who loved to ride trains around the world, and wanted to help preserve rail equipment and infrastructure that will allow future generations to share his experiences during what he considered the “Golden Age” of railway travel, from 1920 to 1960.

Twenty-nine (29) applications were received requesting almost $ 875,000.00. After extensive research and serious consideration by advisors of the Trust, nineteen (19) grants were awarded grants totaling $ 250,000. The John Emery Rail Heritage Trust is the largest trust in the US that makes 100% of its awards solely for railroad restoration purposes.

For 2023, grants were approved for the following organizations/projects:

  1. Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad Association: $ 15,000.00 to help refurbish their C&NW passenger car.
  2. Danbury Railway Museum: $ 12,000.00 to aid in rebuilding the engines of their 1953 New Haven Budd car.
  3. East Troy Railroad Museum: $ 10,000.00 for work on their CSS&SB car #107.
  4. Friends of the SP4449: $ 10,000.00 of their Shasta SP 2395 coach.
  5. Illinois Railway Museum: $ 10,000.00 for electrical and air brake workon their Milwaukee coach 649.
  6. Michigan State Trust for Railway Preservation: $ 1,000.00 to help start work on their C&NW steam locomotive #175.
  7. Mid-Continent Railway Museum: $ 10,000.00 for continued work on the DSS&A sleeping car Duluth.
  8. Nashville Steam Preservation Society: $ 15,000.00 to help refurbish the crossheads, guides and one wrist pin on the steam locomotive NC&StL #576.
  9. National Railway Museum: $ 8,500.00 to update their ex-Reading car Josephine.
  10. Pacific Locomotive Association: $ 31,000.00 for purchasing staybolts for use on the SP steam engine #1744.
  11. Pacific Railroad Preservation Association: $ 10,500.00 for replacement of three blowdowns for the SP&S steam locomotive #700.
  12. Railroaders Memorial Museum: $ 11,000.00 for work on the PRR observation car Mountain View, once used on the Broadway Limited.
  13. Railroad Heritage of Midwest America: $ 25,000.00 for a HEP generator to power their UP coaches at Silvis, Illinois.
  14. Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum: $ 11,500.00 for structural repairs to their Erie Stillwell coach #2103.
  15. Southern Michigan Railroad Society: $ 10,000.00 for work on their heavyweight Pullman Emerald Vale.
  16. Sumpter Valley Railroad Restoration: $ 15,000.00 toward their Sumpter Valley Railway steam locomotive #19.
  17. Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum: $ 20,000,00 for work on their dining car #899.
  18. United Railroad Historical Society: $ 14,500.00 toward replacing the generator on their ex-NYC Hickory Creek observation car.
  19. Watauga Valley Railroad Historical Society and Museum: $ 10,000.00 for truck repair on the ex-Clinchfield Railroad office car #100.

Congratulations to all the groups who received a grant and the best of luck as they continue to preserve our railroad heritage!

First Option Bank, Trustee of the Emery Rail Heritage Trust, continues to provide ongoing support during the application/selection process and due to their investment management the Advisory Committee is able to continually increase the effect this Trust has on the preservation of rail passenger travel. If you would like more information about how to set up a Foundation or are interested in donating to the Emery Rail Heritage Trust, please contact them directly at 913-294- 9222.

Applications for the next round of grants will be due not later than February 1, 2024.


Questions? Send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.


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