6 months after vandalism, community gets beloved trolley museum back on track

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SOUTH ELGIN, Ill. – Six months after two boys caused $110,000 worth of damage, the Fox River Trolley Museum is back on track.

The South Elgin museum said dozens of windows were broken sometime between July 4 to July 7 and additional damage was done to eight cars. The museum says one car had 26 windows that were punched out by pick axes and spikes.

When the public heard about the vandalism, the small museum with an even smaller budget and minimal insurance, felt a wave of goodwill.

A GoFundMe page so far has raised nearly $51,000 dollars and a Joliet glass maker donated tens of thousands of dollars in custom made replacement windows.

And a security firm, Imperial Surveillance, donated a high-tech camera system.

“If we hadn’t had the outpouring of resources, we wouldn’t be sitting here right now,” the museum’s Jeff Bennett said. “We have to pass this on to the next generation. This is the history of Elgin and a Fox River Valley.”

It is a history Bennett hopes even the boys who broke in over the summer can become a part of.

“We did make the offer that we would very much love the opportunity to have the boys come out and do some community service to see and appreciate what they damaged,” he said. “They had no idea what they damaged.”

But for those who did and who put hundreds of hours over the past six months to rebuild, it’s a history back on track.

“There is just satisfaction that everything that people have put their life into, maintaining and restoring and passing onto my children, the next generation to come,” Bennett said. “Just knowing we’re becoming whole again.”

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